By RAY QUIROGA
South Padre Parade
Part scholar, part activist, part athlete, part spiritualist, Hartwell is a renaissance woman in her own right. In fact, her impressive resume includes working as an events promoter, organizer, marketer, model, competitive surfer, Beach Patroller, and environmentalist…And, oh yeah, she’s one heck of an all-around athlete to boot.
And while surfing and kiteboarding remain Aarin’s greatest passions, she can easily switch the conversation to politics, the state of the Island and the environment in a heartbeat.
Originally from Brownsville, Aarin’s lust for the water and surfing has led her to destinations such as Hawaii and Central America.
“I’ve been surfing since I was a teenager. I decided that I wanted to learn how to surf so I started paddling out and teaching myself, and it became a passion of mine,” Hartwell explained, adding that her mother, a biology teacher of 35 years from Brownsville and environmentalist instilled in Aarin a respect for nature.
“She coordinated all the Earth Day and beach clean-ups for the first 15 years of my life, so I put in a bunch of volunteer hours,” Hartwell added.
Harwell, 26, is also a member of the local chapter of the Surfrider Foundation, a grassroots organization whose mission is to educate the public about environmental issues concerning the ocean and beaches as well as being engaged in issues that affect the local coastline.
For the past three years, Aarin has also been a member of the local Beach Patrol outfit, a 15-person unit which is a sub-agency of the SPI Fire Department. The Beach Patrol’s mission is to patrol beach and respond to any water and safety issues on the beach.
“We are the first responders on the beach. We respond to anything from a jellyfish sting to a swimmer in distress,” Hartwell explained.
A communications student at the University of Texas at Brownsville, Hartwell hopes to one day be involved in media production and to find herself in a field that incorporates all of her interests. “I initially was trying to go for broadcast journalism, but I realized through the events I’ve coordinated here like the music festival that I’m more a behind-the-scenes kind of person. I like to do the fieldwork. I like to be the director, calling the shots instead of being in front of the camera,” Hartwell said.
Hartwell also has musical talents. In fact, she studied as a classical flutist but decided that avenue wasn’t for her. She has since done everything from promoting and organizing events and concerts to modeling, and she can even be spotted in television commercials and ad campaigns. She’s hoping to parlay those experiences into bigger and better opportunities. “I did a commercial for Rio Bravo Productions in McAllen last week, and I mentioned to them that I would like to shoot a pilot for Fuel Television, because it’s an established network that’s all about sports so that’s kind of where I want to be and who I want to work for, so we’ll see,” Harwell said.
And while Hartwell partially credits genetics for that lean surfer’s physic that garners so much attention on the beach and in front of the camera, she’s also a big believer in healthy living, as she enjoys everything from beach volleyball to yoga. “I really started practicing yoga last year, and I have one of my best friends who has a yoga studio and is a personal trainer helping me with eating the right things,” Hartwell said.