A Life-Changing Summer in California

What started as a marshmallow-filled bonfire night at my friend’s house in New Jersey, turned into the greatest decision I made since going to Sydney, Australia for a few months. Hey. It’s been a while since I’ve written but I’m back. *insert Arnold impersonation [here]* I feel an obligation to share just how amazing of a summer I had and how life post-Sydney ended up being alright after all. This post is filled with life-shattering realizations and other casual stuff.

After a couple weeks home and the perpetual living-out-of-suitcases phase of my life seemed over, I got a job in California and it was time to pack it up all over again. “How” and “what” you may ask? “Well,” I will say. It started like this:

My friend participated in a high-school National Youth Leadership Conference through Lead America a few years ago that he said was both an amazing social and educational experience that changed his life thanks to his team leader. Interested in pursuing other career avenues besides my seasoned experience with the slave-I mean food industry, I decided to see if I could be that person that changes lives. Within ten minutes of hearing about his story, I was on their website (they had just merged with Envision) and applying as quickly as I could. I could not have spent another second serving pina coladas to creepy 60 year old men at a country club, weighing people’s salads, and wearing a yellow t-shirt serving hot dogs and hamburgers at a water park. That yellow t-shirt really put me over the edge. It was time for a change and this was it. Within a couple of days, I had applied, had an interview, and got hired. They were desperate and so was I.

After a 5 day training session at the University of Maryland–College Park, filled with excessive information, “interesting” coworkers (more on that later), and nights out in DC, we were in the airport and ready to fly to California. But not before a few minor airport crisis situations happen. Forget about me almost missing my flight, seeing my soon-to-be dapper dude-friend James throwing out all of his hangers for all the dapper clothes he brought, or watching my soon-to-be-bb Joe stressing about the fact that the airline didn’t have a ticket for him, what I’m really here to tell you is about this 40 year-old lawyer that was also on the program. The weight limit is 50 lbs. He had maybe around 52. While I’m over here figuring out how to distribute the weight of my luggage so I don’t have to pay fees, he’s over there throwing EVERYTHING out of his luggage, taking out 6 bath towels and 9 hand towels and pleading for Joe to take them in his suitcase, and just looking like an overall mess on the floor of this airport. BRUH, YOU WERE TWO POUNDS OVER. So many questions; like, why does one need 15 towels? How many pounds difference do you think 52 to 50 is? Why are you on your knees, distraught and hovering over your suitcase like it’s a family member’s casket?

blog 1

This is when the White House security said “MA’AM STEP BACK ON THE CURB IMMEDIATELY.” Some issue of national security or something. pft.

I get to California. Three missed flights later and HE gets to California. He doesn’t last the whole summer and I can only imagine how his trip back home went.

blog 4a

Somewhere over the Rockies.

Getting back to the point of this post…

I was scared beyond belief the first day. I was going to be a faculty advisor which meant I was in charge of 20-25 high-school scholars and teaching them about business. I’m a film major. I knew absolutely nothing about business prior to this summer. Why, you may ask, did I take a job where I’d be teaching students about business then? Well, it brought me completely out of my comfort zone, onto a plane, and living/working at Stanford University in California for a few months. So why not? I’ll learn and I did. The persistence and dedication that came from me during these sessions was something I never knew existed. I was so devoted to making sure these kids were having the best experience possible and I tried everyday to bring my A-game, even though I was sleeping about 5 hours a night and yelling at the Law program kids for 2 hours a night.

This wasn’t always easy. We ended up working 15-17 hour days with little time when a scholar wasn’t annoying you or you weren’t annoying a scholar. But you learned to love these teenagers and everything they had going for them. I had never acted as a teacher figure before but I felt this overwhelming desire to see nothing but good things happen to these kids. I wanted to change their lives in the best way possible and make sure that they felt more confident and knowledgable leaving this program. They were my family for that week, which felt like an eternity.

blog 13

Just some of the many scholars I had from this summer. We walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and they were lookin’ so cute!

Now, the people I worked with. I was with the business team but there was also a law team sharing the space with us through the same program. They were classic, stuffy, stereotypical lawyers and we were a fun, charismatic, boisterous assortment of characters. Through all the set-backs, mishaps, and mistakes, our team helped each other out every step of the way and it truly made us feel like family. By the end of the summer, I had grown so close to these group of people that I didn’t know how I would ever do anything without them. We ate together, we laughed together, we even fell asleep in the same common room together! These people were my rocks, my best friends, and my family. Anything I wanted to do, wanted to say, or needed to laugh about, it was with them. Our days off felt weird without them and we’d always be thankful when work started up again so we could see each other once more. We sound truly dysfunctional written down. I will never forget those weeks with some of the FUNNIEST, smartest, and kindest people I’ve ever met. When I say funny, I mean that there were moments every single day of the summer where I couldn’t breathe. I probably should have seen a doctor to make sure I was still healthy, honestly.

blog 6

Raven and Dylan were Law people but still normal. Thank you for being you and so ridiculous, inappropriate, and ridiculously inappropriate ❤ I love you both. Damali is like a second sister/mother to me. I love her with my whole heart and she gives the best advice in the entire world. If you want to feel good about yourself and life, talk to her. She will lift you up no matter what day it is. I miss her, her genuine laughter, and her sassy spunk she brought to that office.


To James. Who always looked SO DANG HANDSOME AND DAPPER ALL THE TIME. If you wanted to know who the best dresser was all summer, it was this guy. My fellow photographer and film-lover. One of the kindest and gentlest souls I’ve met who can throw down rhymes like no other. My brother and friend, love you James <

I’m wrapping up this 20 page long dissertation, don’t worry.

Among the people who changed my life, the lives I changed, and the never-forgotten experiences I had, I wanted to leave you with some amazing advice from a speaker we had–Ranessa Boley Lane. This intelligent, funny, well-spoken woman rocked my world with these few tips and helped shape the conferences and lives of these students.

  1. Own your gifts
    1. Your gifts don’t become gifts until you get good at them. Pay attention to your passion and to what you hate. Follow your passion, that is where your heart is and that is where you’ll love life.
  2. Play courageously
    1. Show up for your dreams. Be ambitious. You may be scared out of your mind to try something new, something you love, or deviate from your comfort zone but do it anyway. Do it scared.
  3. Bring your A-game
    1. Life goes how it’s supposed to go. You can’t control the outcome so you might as well learn from it. Come to give.   Remove judgment from people. The more you ask for advice, the more you’ll grow. Don’t be afraid to speak up, make your presence known, and display your confidence.
If I could wrap up this summer in a few points, it’d be the ones I listed above. I had no idea I had a gift or passion for teaching/dealing with youths. They’re our future and I’m part of that. This summer gave me something to think about in terms of alternative career paths post-college. I’m not so scared anymore. That being said, I’m scared out of my wits. But that’s not stopping me from going to Los Angeles this spring for my final semester at BU. It’s not stopping me from getting an internship in a place that’s intimidating or company that has created my favorite films. It’s not stopping me from getting on a plane and leaving behind what I know and am comfortable with. I’m doing it scared. And I will do it with gusto. I will be present, engaged, and all-around amazing so I get what I want. I will get coffee for who I need to, drive to where I need to, and talk to who I need to to make things happen for myself. I want to pursue film in Los Angeles and I will do it. Or just fake it till ya make it.
This summer helped in my leadership skills and my confidence and gave me some of the best experiences of my life. What’d you do with your summer?

blog 9

My sisters from another misters. These ladies were too much. From late-night conversations that should have not been yelled for the entire building to hear but whispered, to our last night sobbing in Burbank hall together. I love them both and they have changed my life forever. Hilarious, smart, KIND women who I can only aspire to be like. ❤

blog 12

Us. I love us. These people were my everything. Joe. My BB. The OG with me and Torrie. My O’La Tutu king. I had never met someone who could make me smile and laugh as much as he did.  Torrie. My sister. My O’La Tutu queen. My tribe leader. I was scared of her at first but thank god for our bonding experiences the first day at Pier 39. She was my girl through and through and I love her to death. Thank you for always saying “you know what” instead of laughing, hollering at inappropriate times, and being my dance partner and occasionally forgetting where we were at times (oh, a high-school student filled function? Let’s play Love Me by Lil Wayne.) It killed me leaving them and I cannot wait to see them again. They are my family. The kind of people you cannot be in the same room with for fear of laughing and being rude to someone. The kind of people you cannot eat your lunch or dinner with because you will choke and die. The kind of people you want to spend every waking moment with because they’re just that amazing. My brother and sister through this entire journey. My mentors and teachers. My supporters. I owe them so much. Love y’all ❤ o’la o’la tutu o’la o’la tutu. 


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s