All posts by Sock Robot

Erin Shinneman

Name: Erin Mikel Shinneman
Age: 26
Location: Brooklyn, NY
Occupation: Law student

If you want to see someone working to improve the world as a whole, from her friends to society, you can ring up Erin Shinneman. Not only does this law student boast tales of Tanzania, she can also knit you a super-cute hat.

Erin has always looked ahead. In second grade she decided that she wanted to be someone that the third graders read biographies on. Then, she decided she wanted to be anything with a fancy name, like a neonatologist . Born in New Jersey and raised there until she was eleven, she always had street smarts and an understanding that the world was bigger than her tiny neighborhood. Following her parents’ divorce, Erin attended junior high and high school in Washington State, spitting distance from the hip, urban enclave of Seattle. The move and the divorce were tough on her, though to this day she values her relationship with both of her parents, and still has warm feelings for both the soggy Pacific Northwest and Dirty Jerz.

While finishing up her undergraduate degree at NYU, Erin began working on communications projects for non-profit organizations. Working for social change on a large scale made her feel useful, passionate, and like she had found her true calling. Inspired, Erin decided to join Students Partnership Worldwide and live in Africa for a year, where she worked for a development organization doing HIV prevention and health education. She lived in a tiny village off of the main road in the area, where she had running water from a spigot outside of her house on most days, but no electricity. Though she lacked the creature comforts of her home, she still found that the hardest part of the work was battling with the bureaucratic administration in order to be permitted to teach HIV prevention to the young women in the area. She also was able to travel around Tanzania, an experience which she describes as “amazing.” Her Swahili allowed her to converse with the locals, and she had many memorable conversations that a year before would have been impossible. “Meeting people all over the country was by far the best part of my trip,” she adds.

When Erin returned to New York, she worked for a grant-making foundation, and found herself doing communications yet again, along with tedious office work. Although Erin regarded the foundation’s work as powerful and inspiring, she knew it wasn’t for her. She needed a change of approach, and she realized that this would require redefining her career track. “Law school found me, more than me choosing it,” Erin says. After countless long nights of studying for the LSATs, taking them, applying, and finally choosing a school, Erin now finds herself in her second year at Brooklyn Law.

Erin has taken to law school like a proverbial fish to water. “I enjoy the analytical challenge and the finality of it. Law gives you the tools to reach a solution and make changes in areas that need improvement.” These days, she continues to study through the dog days of summer, while also working for a Human Rights organization. “It’s really interesting to be working on some of the same issues I worked on before law school, but now I see them through a legal lens,” she says. She’s also the head of a student group at school, but that doesn’t mean that she’s able to make her daily life predictable. “That’s one of the great things about being in school, there are no “typical” days.” Her friend, and fellow student, Josie Colomar nominated her to be a Cool Girl because of the fact that Erin takes on so much, and keeps a cool head.

On top of law school and saving the world, Erin has four jobs and “no time.” As she puts it, “I’ve found that I need to limit my work load, to make time to knit, read a non-law-school book, see friends, and generally have “quiet time.”‘ Don’t expect her to slow down, though. “I have a hard time turning down good opportunities and projects that I think are exciting.” Considering how she seems to be a magnet for opportunities and excitement, it looks like Erin’s load as a Cool Girl isn’t about to get any lighter!

Kika Sales

Name: Kika Sales

Kika Sales was raised in bucolic Scarsdale, New York and Rome, Italy. Her childhood was filled with exploration, even when under the watchful eye of strict parents. At eighteen she left Rome, allowing her wanderlust to take her to Fordham University in New York. She was unsure of what she would do with her life, though she knew both that she wanted to help people, and that she loved to sing. Attempting to balance her studies and herserenading stage presence was extraordinarily taxing on both Kika’s body and her mind, she found it difficult to apply herself at school when she had been out performing the night before. After the strain became too much to bear, Kika left school and started her own band, opting to indulge in her passion instead of the more traditional scholarly path. Her band performed in New York City, and on the side Kika tended bar in order to make extra money. One day, on a whim, she took a yoga class. “I got hooked and fell in love with it. Not just the physical part of it, but more the philosophy behind it.” The anxiety that had taken hold of her during nursing school, and had plagued her following her departure, lifted. Cured of her nerves, but addicted to yoga, Kika began a different path, taking her new-found practice off of the mat and into the professional realm.

Applying her love of helping people and her desire to heal others to her yoga asana, Kika studied with gurus including the legendary Alan Finger, Leslie Kaminoff, and Paul Grilley. Becoming a yoga instructor united Kika’s playful nature with her comforting core. Today she teaches on Long Island, New York, and her instruction includes a vibrant mix of mediums, including flow-based Vinyasa yoga and the nurturing, supported stretching of Yin yoga. Her pursuit of whole body-and-mind healing has also led Kika to become a practitioner of Reiki,callanetics, and a spiritual healing practice that is often referred to as “soul memory discovery.” Typically her days are filled with at least four sessions of yoga, both as private lessons and group classes, but her life outside of the studio is equally rich and fulfilling.

“I love riding my Ducati,” Kika gushes. Other than her motorcycle, her favorite things to do include playing guitar and hanging out with her cat, Dr. Boo Boo. Every part of Kika’s life informs her practice. “Everything inspires and impacts my yoga,” she says.  Even with all of this, she still has something she wishes for, namely that she’s California dreaming. Her boyfriend, who is a dog whisperer, lives out west. Between her heart being in San Diego, and her family being in Rome, Kika does wish she had more opportunity to travel. “My future goal is to have a family, get back into music, go surfing, and, of course, continue to raise the vibration on the earth plane, and continue healing whoever I can help!” Lofty goals, but if anybody can achieve them it’s this rockstar-turned-yogi, who is one Cool Girl!

If you live in the New York area and would like to take a yoga class with Kika, feel free to email her: francesca777@gmail.com. You can also attend one of her classes at Om Sweet Om http://omsweetomyoga.com/, which is one of the many studios blessed to count Kika among their teachers.

Eliana Andrea Space

Name: Eliana Andrea Space

As someone who fidgeted in school and was anxious to explore beyond books, Eliana Space never took class for granted. Originally a young girl with a desire to grow up and become a teacher, this Queens, New York native didn’t allow her wanderlust to lead her thirst for knowledge out of the classroom, thanks in part to her mother, who emphasized the importance of education. Over the years, this quest for understanding extended beyond the dream of pounding erasers…