“It’s so rejuvenating and makes you so enthusiastic and happy. It sets you for the rest of your day. You want to live your entire life that way once you’ve felt that feeling,” said Katie McLean, about the experience that is surfing.

McLean, 22, has surfed since she attended Santa Barbara High School, and her longtime love for catching waves has brought her to where she is now: one of 25 — out of an original 3,000 worldwide — young women competing to represent the Americas in Roxy’s “Live the Dream of a Roxy Girl” contest. Three women from around the world will win the opportunity to compete in the Roxy Pro Surf Competition in Biarritz, France, to travel to another, undisclosed location, and to represent the Roxy brand and meet the team behind it. To put those waves in motion, McLean needs to get the most on-line votes by Monday, June 11.

“People can vote every day, on every device, on every browser,” she said, explaining that, if she is one of the 10 girls to receive the most votes, she will then move on to the judging phase that determines the three winners. “That would be amazing to me. I would be so stoked. I’ve never been to Europe, but whenever I travel, I get so much inspiration,” gushed the regular foot.

McLean, it seems, has been inspired her whole life. Born and raised in Santa Barbara’s Funk Zone, she has many passions and an endless supply of energy to fuel them. In addition to surfing, she makes jewelry, owns an art gallery near the ocean end of Helena Street, practices yoga, and writes for Carpinteria-based DEEP Magazine. Even more impressive, all of these interests, she said, flow into her overarching passion for philanthropy. Partial proceeds from her gallery, Latitude, and her self-made jewelry always go to “some sort of cause,” she said, citing the Surfrider Foundation and Habitat for Humanity as just some of the nonprofits that she has recently partnered with. She has also, for the past eight years, drawn “ocean-inspired” pieces for the annual I Madonnari Festival, which benefits local arts education. “Any time I’m going to put energy into something,” she said, “it always needs to be for something else — it can’t just be for me.”

And McLean’s desire to give and get inspiration knows no bounds. “Anywhere can be a canvas,” she said. “Everywhere can be an open road.”

After high school, eager to create her own canvas and pave her own road, McLean took some classes on motion picture graphics at SBCC. From there, she attended Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where she recently received a degree in digital media. McLean’s skills are evident in the video submission she created for the Roxy contest.

Having advanced so far in the competition “feels amazing,” she said. “It’s really hard to believe. It’s really cool they put this competition on because it gave so many girls the opportunity to express themselves.”

Saying she was happy to have met so many “like-minded girls” in the process, McLean is excited to see what happens and grateful for all of those that have helped her along the way. “The local support has been amazing,” she said.

To watch McLean’s submission video and vote for her, check out the contest website.


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