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‘Boomerang Kids’: Portraits of Millennials Living Back Home with Mom and Dad

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Mikey Billings, 29, Statesville, N.C.
Degree: B.A., Film studies, Full Sail University
Career Goal: Film or music industry
Current Job: Working part time at a malt shop
Student Loans: $80,000

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Jacqueline Boubion, 30, Diamond Bar, Calif.
Degree: B.A. Communications, California State University, Fullerton
Career goal: Film director 
Current job: Production assisting in commercials and music videos
Student Loans: None, but $22,000 in credit-card debt

According to the The New York Times Magazine, 1 in 5 people in their 20s and early 30s find themselves living with their parents. Photographer Damon Casarez contextualizes the struggle for independence in his series Boomerang Kids. Shot in 8 states and over 14 cities, the work is a revealing and compassionate story of Millennials in the United States. A recent graduate with an excessive amount of student loan debt himself, Casarez moved back in with his parents and was inspired to connect with others in his same situation. The perfect storm of economic crises places many young people in a surreal limbo of re-adolescence, the metamorphasis from teenager to independent adult no longer a straight line.

The desired goals and hope of a bright future are frequently in direct contrast to the harsh reality that surrounds graduates. Should one be embarrassed about moving in with their parents again? Is the decision a wise financial choice or simply delaying the inevitable of getting out on their own? With college tuition and debt burden skyrocketing, a competitive market, and an economy full of part-time jobs, questioning what you want feels a luxury. Even those who do manage to obtain a “starter” white collar job are barely able to make ends meet, the higher paying wages possibly never an option in the current climate. With uncertainty and challenge at every turn, there is a surprising endurance to Casarez’s home-bound heros.

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Adrianne Smith, 28, Seminole, Fla.
Degree: B.A., Psychology, University of Central Florida; M.S., Counseling, Nova Southeasern University
Career goal: Expanding her business
Current job: Entrepreneur and therapist (whose clients include autistic children)
Student Loans: $40,000 (for graduate school)

28-year-old Adrianne Smith was fortunate enough to secure a job as a behavioral analyst treating children who suffered with varying degrees of autism, but still found the job insufficient to pay her more than $40,000 of student loan debt. As Smith explained to the Times, moving back home with her parents in order to absorb start up costs has allowed her to built her own business for autism care. She nows runs her own clinic and has part-time therapists make house calls, declaring the choice to live at home “a business incubator”.

Though perhaps from a humble vantage point, Millennials are still striving for an idea of the American Dream. The long gone “land of opportunity” looks extremely different than that of their parents, but this current generation must navigate its waters anyway, producing innovative and uncertain methods of survival where sleeping in your childhood bedroom is an economically sound choice. The interim between university to adulthood is perhaps a bit longer, but in no way denotes failure. Despite the shaky ground, Boomerang Kids proves there is still a vision and possibility of something better.

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Annie Kasinecz, 27, Downers Grove, Ill.
Degree: B.A., Advertising and public relations, Loyola University, Chicago
Student Loans: $75,000

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Ari Hoque, 22, Brooklyn
Degree: B.A., Economics, Hunter College
Career goal: Banker
Current job: Rental-car-company worker
Student Loans: $12,000

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Alexandria Romo, 28, Austin, Tex.
Degree: B.A., Economics, Loyola University, Chicago
Career goal: Environmentalist
Current Job: Working at a corporate-security firm
Student Loans: $90,000

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Eric Curran, 23, Wahoo, Nebr.
Degree: B.A., history and religion, Midland University
Career goal: Professor of Lutheran theology or history professor
Current job: Education assistant at local public schools
Student Loans: $11,000

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Monica Navarro, 24, Escondido, Calif.
Degree: B.A., Literature and writing, University of California, San Diego. 
Career Goal: Librarian 
Current Job: Library volunteer, Home Depot Worker
Student Loans: $44,000

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Ashley Chang, 25, Queens
Degree: B.A., Comparative literature, Hamilton College
Career goal: Digital media manager
Current job: Digital-media analyst
Student Loans: $20,000

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Gabriel Gonzalez, 22, Suffern, N.Y.
Degree: B.F.A., Graphic design, School of Visual Arts
Career goal: Graphic designer
Current job: Graphic designer and production assistant
Student Loans: $130,000

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Jessica Meyer, 23, Pacifica, Calif.
Degree: B.A., Art history, Sonoma State University
Career goal: Veterinarian
Current job: Veterinary assistant
Student Loans: $27,000

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Lila Ash, 24, Washington Heights, N.Y.
Degree: B.F.A., painting, Rhode Island School of Design
Career goal: Cartoonist
Current job: Decorative finisher for an interior designer
Student Loans: $25,000

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Robert Shane Ellis, 29, Alhambra, Calif.
Degree: B.A., Asian humanities, University of California, Los Angeles
Career goal: Film director or actor
Current job: Looking for voice-over work; recently enrolled in an M.F.A. program
Student Loans: $10,000

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Sarah Van Eck, 24, Hendricks, Minn.
Degree: B.A., Biology, Northwestern College
Career goal: Social Worker
Current job: Dietary worker at a hospital
Student Loans: $50,000

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