What are the odds of running into Katherine Berman and Sophie LaMontogne, sisters and owners of the LEGENDARY and INSPIRATIONAL cupcake shop:
A few minutes ago, my best friends Andrea and Axelle decided to stop by the Georgetown Cupcake store in New York City. As they were rattling off about how cool the store was, how good the cupcakes were, and how much they wanted me to see all of it, the stores clerk asked them if they watched the show DC Cupcakes. And before they knew it, Katherine and Sophie were standing in front of them and they were taking a picture with them. They talked for a while and Andrea told them about about me and my business and how they had been a huge inspiration throughout the entire process. They told them to wish me the best of luck with my business and they even signed an autograph for me! As soon as they left, Andrea and Axelle contacted me and I literally freaked out. I started running around my house screaming of excitement!
I was #jelous #freakingout #excited #inspired #hashtagscan'tdescribetheexcitmentIfeltatthemoment
Thank you Drew and Ax! You guys really made my day!
To continue developing my American Dream, I began looking for the best liberal art schools in the US. I was mainly looking for universities in the East Coast because my two sisters are studying there and most of my family lives there. So my list was looking a little like this:
As I began looking into each school and going through the programs they offered, I realized that I really had no idea what a liberal arts school was. To me, a liberal arts school was one where I could focus my undergraduate studies in business as well as in other topic areas. But after doing some research into the schools shown above, I realized that it really means getting an overview of the arts, humanities, social sciences, mathematics and natural sciences. And although I do have some interest in these areas, I know that I want to focus most of my studies in business. But at the same time, I don't want to attend a business school because I don't want to only take business courses.
As you can see, by now, I was pretty confused and I asked my mom, a college prep teacher, for some help. She explained to me that just because I attended a business school did not mean that I was only going to be taking business courses. As a freshman, I would be taking both business and liberal arts courses in order to develop expertise in historical, cultural, and contemporary issues, which is something employers greatly value. And in certain colleges I would even get the opportunity to do a concentration or a minor in a liberal arts area.
Now that I knew this, I switched gears and began looking for that "dream" business university. As I did this, I realized that there are so many great universities out there but we only tend to focus on the Yale, Harvard, and Stanford that everyone knows. I, however, was looking for a university that was not necessarily the most prestigious, but that had excellent academics and a good location. One where your teachers are accessible and where there is a sports culture, one that's innovative and that believes in experiential learning, and one thats affordable and realistic.
After sitting down with my mom to discuss what schools I should apply to, she gave me a list of six schools which have recognized business programs and that would probably offer me some financial aid. I added three more schools of my own choice and spent the rest of the afternoon looking into each of their websites to get a feel for the programs they offered.
For instance, at Babson, when you're a Freshman, you invent, develop, launch, and manage your own business with 10 other students and 3000 dollars granted by the university. Pretty cool right? But the best part of it all is that each group must donate 80 hours of community service as well as the business's profits to an organization. In Northeastern, on the other hand, you are given the opportunity to do 18 months of your five years in college as internships where you work with real business's and actually get payed! I found this really cool because it provides you with real world experience, and that is ultimately what employers are looking for in student graduates.
Looking through each university and the programs they offer has also made me aware of majors that I may wish to pursue. Majors such as Management, Marketing, Entrepreneurship and Innovation are ones that have really called my name. But I don't plan on deciding on one, or declaring my major, until I get a feel on each one of them. Luckily, in most universities you don't need to declare your major until your second year in college. Thus, this gives me the opportunity to take different courses and experiment with them to see what area of business I would like to focus on.
Having looked into universities also taught me a lot about the importance of a positive online presence. For most students, especially foreigners, the way they learn about a university is through their webpage. What I've noticed is that the schools which least called my attention where those that didn't have very detailed explanations of their programs in their websites. Schools like Babson, however, managed to "sell" their university to me through their website because it was extremely detailed and user friendly.
The next step in finding my American Dream is to narrow down my list of nine schools to the three that I like the most. In order to do this, however, I need to continue researching into each of the nine universities to see which one fulfills my criteria of a "dream university" the best.
Last semester, my friend Gabriel Barreto--a 16-year-old professional photographer--was asked by Casa Gourmet to take pictures of all their products (over 400). After being asked, Gabriel contacted my friend Andrea, treasurer of photography club, and Karen, a member of the club, to see if they would like to help him shoot the pictures. He also asked me if I would like to be the "food styler" and although I had never really styled food before, he said that I would be perfect for the position because I had so much experience decorating cupcakes. So I decided to give it a shot, and around December of last year, we had a meeting with Claudia, the restaurants owner, to understand what type of pictures she wanted, when she need them for, what days we could shoot, and how much all of it would cost. We agreed that since so many products had to be photographed, it would be best to shoot over several days in summer.
Before I knew it, it was summer, and our first shooting day had finally arrived! We worked from 11:00 am to 5:00 pm. To be completely honest, my favorite part of the experience was being able to see how the restaurant worked "behind the scenes". There was an entire area designed for the preparation of the food, another for the decorating of the desserts, and a final one for the packaging. And while I thought the restaurant was only a story high, it was actually a lot bigger because there were offices were the owners handled all of the businesses logistics.
After having chosen the best space to work in, we set up all of the lights and I was amazed by how much equipment you could use to simply take a picture of a dessert or a meal. Once the lights had been set up, the desserts we had to shoot first were brought up (it was so hard not to eat them because they looked so good)! The first picture was definitely the hardest because we had to modify the light until it was perfect. But after the first picture, it was simply a matter of changing the desserts and placing them in the right angle for Gabriel and Karen to take the picture. Claudia and I, on the other hand, were in charge of placing the dish in the right position, making sure that the plates decorations complemented the dessert and making sure that the right plate was being used for each picture. We were also able to give our opinion about each picture and suggest ways in which Gabriel and Karen could photograph the desserts. It was definitely a long day but I had an amazing time and I got to enjoy of some really good desserts at the end!
At the beginning of January I began to take ACT classes with my mom. And after almost a month of these classes, I learned three main things:
For some reason, adults love to ask kids what they want to be when they grow up. I guess it's because they love to hear the innocent jobs that they can come up with. When I was small, I remember telling everyone I wanted to be an actress. As for most kids, however, I didn't really know what being an actress implied, and this dream job of mine didn't last very long. I went from wanting to be an actress to a teacher, from a teacher to a vet, and from a vet to a McDonalds cashier (I heard that you got free meals for working there). The funny thing is that although I was frequently changing my mind, I always had an idea of what I wanted to be. But if you were to ask me the same question today, I wouldn't know what to answer. I know business is something that interests me, but at the same time I feel that by just studying business I'm pushing myself away from hundreds of topic areas that I may want to pursue in the future.
Today was the first day that I worked on my American Dream project, and to be honest, I thought that by the end of the day I'd have a pretty clear idea of what career I'd want to pursue. I planned on taking online personality tests to then find the careers that best suited those personality types. But by the end of the day I realized that it wasn't as easy as I had anticipated.
I took the Briggs Myers test three different times, in three different websites, but every time I got a personality type that was different and none of them matched my own. According to the tests I was an ESTP, an ENTJ, or an ENTP and would be successful as a military leader, lawyer, freelancer, athlete, crisis manager, etc. Nonetheless, I couldn't really picture myself pursuing any of the mentioned careers and I didn't feel that a personality test could truly define what I would be good at and what I would enjoy doing.
I talked to my mom about the entire process and she agreed that those personalities or careers where not right for me. So I started to worry, and I started asking myself and my mom how I was ever going to choose the universities I wanted to apply to if I had no idea of what I wanted to study. That's when my mom made me realize that to a certain extent, that's what college is for, to help me understand what I want to do with the rest of my life. She suggested that if I really don't know what I want to do, applying to a liberal arts schools would be a good idea because it would give me an all-round education until I am ready to declare a major.
So now, the next step in determining my American Dream is finding the liberal arts schools that I would be interested in applying to!