My Most Challenging Academic Pursuit

My journey to finishing my Babson Honors Thesis Project.

Without a doubt, writing my honors thesis at Babson was one of the most rewarding- and most challenging- experiences of my entire academic career. I applied for Babson’s Honors Program when I was a Sophomore in college by recommendation from my Business Law Professor, who encouraged me to apply, thinking that I would be a good fit for the program. Once I was selected to participate in the program, I knew the hard work was just beginning.

I remember sitting with my peers at the Honors Retreat later in the year, looking anxiously around at my talented and ambitious classmates. I had no idea what I wanted to write about and with every brainstorming session and idea-generating conversation, I fell deeper and deeper into a whirlwind of confusion. When I finally considered studying music for my project, I encountered yet another obstacle: who was going to be my advisor? To describe finding someone who has knowledge about music, musicians, and passion at a business school as merely challenging is a vast understatement. I spoke to upwards of ten professors from Olin and Babson with no avail. How I found my advisor at the end of my Junior year still remains to be a bit of a mystery to me. I distinctly remember walking into her office in the basement of Tomasso thinking:

“this is my last hope, if she says that she cannot advise me I am not sure what I am going to do,” as I crossed my fingers under the table.

To my relief, she was truly the most interesting, genuine, generous, and kind professors I had met at Babson. I knew that if she said no to advising my project I would not only have to continue looking for an advisor but, more importantly, I would be missing out on the chance to work with such an incredible scholar. 

I could not have been more overjoyed when my advisor agreed to work with me on my honors thesis during my Senior year. The fact that I would be her first advisee made the experience all the more special. It made me feel as though we were walking into uncharted territory together and that we could both make mistakes and laugh about them. We would always figure it out, but we had the joy of figuring it out together. 

When I returned from summer break, I was excited to revisit the project, yet, undeniably, apprehensive. I had spent the whole summer searching for inspiration. Whatever I read, watched, or experienced I thought about how I could generate a thesis idea from it. With no luck, I returned to school with a pit in my stomach. I was still so confused as to what to write about. This confusion soon turned into frustration, as I used this conflict to define other parts of my life. How come I do not know what I am passionate about? Maybe I don’t know myself? If I could not choose a research topic of interest, how was I going to choose a profession after college?

Who is Ursula?

Yet, I was always comforted by my advisor’s simple and warm words “your project does not have to be perfect and, in fact, no project is”. It was as though these words allowed me permission to make mistakes, knowing that floundering was part of the process. It was my advisor’s continued faith in me that convinced me that I was capable of moving forward and, without it, I would not have believed that I could finish. 

It was at the Honors Reception in October of 2019 that my confidence during the process was at an all-time low. At this point, I had limited faith in my project. I still had not developed a research question or methodology. I found that my thoughts were constantly spinning in circles, butterflies in my stomach as I entered the dining hall. I knew that, at the reception, I would be forced to talk about my ideas and how I would be accomplishing my goals, but I simply did not have any answers. I clearly recall, when we had to stand up and present our projects, my advisor leaning over to tell me to have confidence because my preliminary idea was inherently interesting, words which gave me enough encouragement to stumble along and explain my project to the room. 

Yet, despite my discouragement, that semester my advisor helped me to press on, motivating me to continue to make mistakes, discover, and ask questions. I think that some of the best advice she gave me was that if I kept circling back to the same idea it meant that this was the idea that I should pursue. Another piece of advice I found incredibly helpful was that I should just start talking to people- diving in even though I did not have all the answers. She helped me to realize that I did not have to have everything figured out before I began and that this project would be an iterative process of discovery, learning, and adaptation. 

Despite my progress’s interruption from my college having to close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I felt certain of the completion of my thesis. I knew that my advisor and I would see our project to the end, knowing that if we had come this far there was no stopping us now. After many long nights in my house writing away, I finally finished my honors thesis at the end of April, just weeks before I was supposed to have my graduation.

Now that I had completed the thesis, my mind was drawn to the other aspects of the project that I would now be missing out on: the presentation of my work at the Honors Thesis showcase, my advisor and my weekly catch ups, and having my parents see me graduate with honors. What hurt the most? The fact that my advisor would not be seeing me, along with all of the other honors students, walk across the stage to receive my diploma. I would miss out on the moment where I would find my advisor and family in the crowd as I stood on stage with my honors degree in hand, thinking about how proud I was that we finally finished this long journey together. 

Nevertheless, this day will come at some point in the future, but if it doesn’t that would be O.K. too. I have realized walking across a stage or showcasing my work some place would have been nice, but it wouldn’t change the research already done and the experience already had.

Neal Jeup on Becoming a Model

Life can lead us on unexpected twists and turns, Neal’s twist was modeling.

I’m sure it would surprise many to know that model Neal Jeup was an entrepreneur well before all of the jet setting and photographing began. Neal is one of eight siblings, who grew up in Grosse Pointe, Michigan, a suburb right outside Detroit. In Neal’s house entrepreneurship was always at the center and, when he was only 19 years old, Neal started his own iOS device repair service business, which serviced between 2,000 to 3,000 devices by the time he graduated from high school. Neal credits this repair business in leading him to pursue entrepreneurship full time one day. Neal went on to study finance at Clemson University in South Carolina, yet his career path would become anything but straight. The summer after his Freshman year in college, Neal taught English at Tsinghua University in Beijing. Following this experience, he would travel to Shanghai and work with some of the founding members of Über, as the company navigated their entrance into the Chinese market and developed the initial framework for ÜberEnglish. After such engaging and unique summer experiences, Neal found it difficult to re-enter a traditional classroom setting and decided to take a leave from school to return to work with Uber in Shanghai. Fate had other plans for Neal when, at a modeling gig for his girlfriend at the time, he was asked to step in for a missing model. Soon, Neal was signed with a local agency called AMAX, which was required to participate in the shoot, and so his modeling career began! 

Although he never imagined he would become a full time model, Neal thought he would at least participate in the modeling agency’s annual showcase, where they flew in scouts from across the globe to view their models. At the end of the showcase, Neal was surprised to find many offers from agencies in Los Angeles, New York, and Miami that he thought modeling might play a part in his future. Putting his return to Shanghai on hold, Neal took a leap of faith and moved to Seoul, South Korea, to build up his modeling portfolio. He views this time as being instrumental in his development as a model, learning to become comfortable on set and in front of a camera. After living in Seoul, Neal lived in Tokyo, Japan, Sydney, Australia and Los Angeles, California until settling in New York City, which is when he began to land high profile jobs with Vince, Cole Haan, Tommy Hilfiger, Rag & Bone, and Christian Dior. Neal says that his favorite shoot was for Dior’s newest fragrance at the time “Joy,” where he got to work with Jennifer Lawrence as well as DP, Emmanuel Lubezki and director, Francis Lawrence. 

When asked about some advice he wishes he knew before getting into modeling? Neal responds that he wished he would have focused more on personal growth in the beginning of his career, than comparing himself to other people in the industry. “There is so much about the industry that you personally can’t change, the agents handling almost everything. And you look the way you look,” Neal mentions. “After entering the modeling industry, I quickly realized that no matter how far you take a career, there will always be someone with a leg up. Designers might like you one day, and run cold the next. It was incredibly disheartening out of the gate.” It was only when Neal acknowledged this fact and decided to focus on personal development that he became truly happy. “We’re inadvertently taught to idolize the fictitious, continuously euphoric, lives we see through social media – like a revolving door of jealousy,” he notes.

All things considered, unlike other models, Neal was able to find comfort in the fact that he would one day return to school and finish his degree, making it easier for him to put less pressure on himself to perform and find work. Neal was hyper focused on the fact that poor decisions regarding reckless behavior would yield underwhelming results in the future. As a model, Neal found himself in a world where the only factor of relevance was appearance and, therefore, saw other models take advantage of being careless with their health through partying and other means- a live fast die young mindset.  “When you think that you are going to be a model forever, you don’t hedge that long term bet with the need for stability and health in the future,” Neal mentions. Neal finds himself fortunate to have been able to connect with like-minded people in the industry who prioritized their wellbeing overall and have become long time friends.

Neal knew that it might be time for a change when he reached the middle of his twenties and decided that, if he was going to go back to school, he was going to go back now. Neal applied to Babson College, the number one school for entrepreneurship, got in, and the rest is history! 

When reflecting back on his modeling career, Neal realized that he went from controlling everything he did in entrepreneurship- meticulously planning and organizing his life- to having to succumb to a lack of control. Modeling taught Neal that you have no control and that if the agency didn’t send an email with a job that day, you had the day off and hoped for work the next. In modeling, you can control so few things, which is something that Neal wishes was different within the industry. Neal notes that he wishes that models were able to have a greater say in terms of advocacy, where the agency has all of the control in representing you as a model. All things considered, Neal has watched the power of social media disrupt the traditional structure of the business, where models can craft their own persona on social platforms – most notably, Instagram.

Although Neal is currently finishing up school, he notes that he wants to incorporate the global exposure he had in modeling to the work that he does full time as an entrepreneur. For Neal, that may look like many different things- only time will tell- for now, Neal strives to “become an advocate for introspection, personal growth and overwhelming gratitude above all else.” 

Sharing My Top 9 Beauty Items (Part X of the Series)

👋 The last beauty items of the series.

Friends, the time has come at last to reveal to you my nine beauty favorites! Every product that is listed is linked to a friend, the inspiration behind this series to begin with! Without my tried and true friends, I would have never found my tried and true favorite beauty products. For that- and so much more- I am forever grateful. Public Service Announcement: reach out to a friend, call a long time buddy, Facetime with a cousin, send a letter to your grandma, give an air-hug to your loved one. When the make up remover comes out and it’s just us revealed to the world, it’s our true friends that see us for who we are and love us, not in spite of our imperfections, but because of them. (So, air hug!)


#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Gloss Bomb in Fu$$y by Fenty Beauty

How often you use it

Whenever I put on make up for a night out. 

What you like about the product

Where do I even begin! This lipgloss is light, moisturizing, and shimmery- really a trifecta. This product also smells and- dare I say- tastes amazing. It comes in a range of shades, my favorite being Fu$$y, and lasts all night long. 10/10 on this one. 

How you found it

My friend Ola’s recommendation!

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Stretch Concealer in G8 by Glossier

How often you use it

Every time I put on make up. 

What you like about the product

The consistency of this product is what makes it for me. The product is creamy, which is ideal for application with your fingers. The difference between my under eyes with this product versus without is night and day, the coverage being pretty remarkable. I also like to use the concealer on my trouble areas, covering up any spots to make my skin matte before I go in and apply powder. 

How you found it

After going into the Glossier store in Soho with my friend Sabrina for the first time; I bought everything in the store.

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Clear Brow Gel by Anastasia Beverly Hills

How often you use it

Every time I put on make up. 

What you like about the product

I really like the fact that the applicator brush is as big as a mascara brush and that there is a fair amount of gel in the tube, which means it lasts forever. The gel also doesn’t make my eyebrows super stiff, making for a more natural, yet stylized look. 

How you found it

Recommended by the Sephora queen Alana 

#4 Favorite Beauty Product

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Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart Mascara by Tarte

How often you use it

Every time I wear make up. 

What you like about the product

I love the fact that this mascara is not super clumpy, but also still adds volume. The mascara also comes off easily, doesn’t flake, and doesn’t hurt your lashes. Those babies need special care!

How you found it

Jahnvi’s recommendation

#5 Favorite Beauty Product

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Limited Edition Love, Trust, and Fairy Dust Palette by Tarte

How often you use it

On a night out

What you like about the product

I love the mix of shimmery and matte eyeshadows that this palette offers as well as the product’s range of colors. I especially like Flitter, the metallic light pink, which pairs really nicely with Twinkle, the metallic gold if you are going for a complete shimmery look. 

How you found it

A Jahnvi special again

#6 Favorite Beauty Product

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Vitamin E Moisturizer by Malin + Goetz 

How often you use it

Every day 

What you like about the product

I love that this product has a very light, fresh scent that doesn’t linger all day on your face. I also like the fact that the product isn’t very oily and absorbs super well right into the skin, almost leaving a dewy feeling. 

How you found it

My brother, the moisturizer king!

#7 Favorite Beauty Product

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Rose Water Facial Toner by Trader Joes

How often you use it

In the morning, every day right when I wake up. 

What you like about the product

The subtle rose scent is really beautiful and lingers for a little while after it is sprayed. The toner is also light and refreshing, helping to tighten your pores thanks to the witch hazel. The best part? It’s only $3.99. 

How you found it

A stocking stuffer from my best friend… my mommy.

#8 Favorite Beauty Product

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3D Hydra Clear Gloss by Kiko Milano

How often you use it

Whenever I am dressing up for a more formal outing. 

What you like about the product

This gloss really packs a punch in the glossy department, delivering on the shine it promises. What I love about the clear is that it can amplify any lipstick by being applied overtop, but it is also great on its own to highlight your natural lip color. 

How you found it

Jahnvi my beauty plug

#9 Favorite Beauty Product

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Lidstar Liquid Eyeshadow in Cub and Lily by Glossier

How often you use it

Whenever I am looking for a really concentrated eyeshadow look. 

What you like about the product

I really like the application of this product, for someone who isn’t very proficient with make up, this one is fool proof. I also really love the colors that Lidstar comes in, Cub and Lily being my favorites because they compliment my skin tone and light features the best. If you are looking for your eyes to really pop, this product might be for you.

How you found it

Walking into the Glossier store and buying up the store with Ola.


Hope you enjoyed learning about my favorite beauty products as well as my friends’. Stay tuned for more fun series in the future!

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Joe Conforti on Life as an Artist, Activist, and Creator

When life throws you lemons, make art.

Joe Conforti originally dreamt of being an art teacher, initially majoring in art and education at the University of Richmond in Virginia. However, Joe changed his major to marketing and public relations, when he saw others becoming interested in the exciting world of business in the early 1980s. After graduating, Joe worked in advertising, one of his projects being designing toys for fast food restaurants. Life turned upside down for Joe in 1992, when he was diagnosed with the AIDS virus and was told that he only had 18 months to live. Quitting the corporate world, Joe knew that he needed to return to what he loves: art. After his partner gifted him a class at a local ceramic studio, Joe realized this was the push that he needed in order to start creating his own art again. 

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 6.55.08 PMJoe’s ceramic wall art

Joe frequently gave his art as gifts to friends, which even caught the eye of designer Donna Karan, who reached out to Joe to create pieces for her new home collection. Joe’s pieces were soon seen all over Barneys and Bendels in New York City- an artist’s dream I think! Keeping up with demand, Joe quickly got an art studio in SoHo and even began experimenting with wall mounted ceramics. Joe used the traditional Japanese Raku style in his ceramics, showcasing organic textures and colorful tones. Joe mentions that much of his art is inspired by the hectic pace and colorful landscape of New York City, a city he loves to call home. At the same time he was pursuing his art, Joe became heavily involved in the ACT UP movement, an AIDs activist group, as a street activist and cites the rapid improvement in the effectiveness of AIDs medications in helping him to continue to live and focus on his art. 

Joe’s art practice has changed dramatically over the course of his art career, the most significant change being in his medium, as he transitioned from ceramic to painting. Joe notes that he was gentrified out of his ceramic studio, as it was made into office spaces, and, shortly after, took a hiatus from his art to take a screenwriting class. Despite writing two screen plays, Joe missed the fine arts too much and enrolled in painting classes at the New School. Joe hadn’t turned from paints since, until this summer. 

Screen Shot 2020-09-18 at 7.00.12 PMMy favorite paintings from Joe’s Color, Order, and Choas collection 

In the earlier part of the year, Joe had planned on having a show called Color, Order, and Chaos and found a gallery that was going to show his latest collection in May. This collection of 14 paintings was inspired by today’s political climate in The United States, the textures and bright colors captured in his ceramics carrying over into these paintings. However, when the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in Joe’s husband losing his job, the pair packed up their New York City apartment and moved to Fire Island, a small island just off the coast of Long Island. In Fire Island, Joe and his partner sought some much needed space from crowded New York, but, unfortunately, Joe couldn’t fit his paints and canvases into the packing. Nevertheless, Joe found a new creative outlet- sculpture. Joe spent his quarantine building a 40 foot long beach sculpture out of driftwood he calls Serenity, which helped to bring Joe an incredible amount of peace during such a challenging time. On the island, Joe also held a gallery opening for his loyal followers, during which he sold almost all of his pieces from his Color, Order, and Chaos collection. 

When asked about the best piece of professional advice someone has given to him, Joe recalled the comment of a fellow marketer, who told him early on in his career to bring something physical for his audience to touch and see when giving a pitch. Joe credits much of his experience in marketing and sales to helping him tremendously in his art career, especially when it comes to selling his art. Joe mentions that the most important thing an emerging artist can do is just get their art out into the world in any way possible. When Joe worked out of his studio, among a community of artists, he sold significantly more than all of the art students in the lofts. Joe says that the difference between himself and them was that he was not afraid to go to the local coffee shop and give them pieces on consignment or even give his art away as gifts. Exposure for Joe was key to building a reputation in the New York art community and what he suggests other artists do in order to stand out.  

What about the future excites Joe? “Young people like you,” he says “the energy of young people to be able to change the world for the better excites me.” What excites me? The boldness and fearlessness of artists like Joe, who have chosen to pursue an unconventional path to paint the world a brighter place. 

CEO Sit Down: Kai Han on Cardea

A company that is interrupting the traditional job search process one job at a time.

Finding a job is tough. Finding a job in today’s economy is even tougher. Cardea‘s entrance into the job search space couldn’t have been better timed, with new job seekers, like myself, eager to seek new and exciting opportunities. Having used many different job searching platforms, I consider Cardea to be one of my favorites, as the website’s user experience is incredibly intuitive and simple. I am so happy to have gotten the chance to interview Kai, Cardea’s CEO and a budding entrepreneur, on his new business and hope that you sign up to access the site too!


Kai! Tell us a little bit about yourself. 

Sure thing! I’m 22 years old, and recently graduated from the University of Oxford in June. I was born and raised in New York City, which unfortunately makes up about 55% of my entire personal identity. Besides my hometown, I also like talking about startups, sports, and anime.

What was the inspiration behind starting Cardea and tell us a little bit about the business?

I was looking for an internship last summer and found myself extremely frustrated with the process. I wanted to work in venture capital, and remember conducting an entire mini-research project just to find out where to apply. I often caught myself wishing that someone could just present me with a list of all the firms that were currently hiring interns in New York City. Talking to some of my friends, it seemed that everyone hated the process of finding the right places to apply to as well (particularly those who didn’t want to go the banking, big tech, consulting type of route).

Traditional job finding platforms really place the burden of discovery entirely on the user. You’re given a giant database of jobs and nothing but a search bar and some rudimentary filters to sift through all of those jobs. What ends up happening is an experience that feels extremely clunky, with low personalization and tons of irrelevant jobs being shown to users.

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Zooming out a bit, I’d say there are broadly two types of content platforms: Search (Amazon) and discovery (Spotify, Reddit, Twitter) based platforms. Search works really well when the user knows exactly what they’re looking for, whereas discovery is optimally suited when a user has a set of interests but doesn’t know the exact specific pieces of information they want. From that angle, jobs should really be discovery based, but they’ve been search products since Monster.com in the 90’s. We set out to build a jobs platform that prioritized highly curated discovery over anything else.

To do that, we curate Spotify-style “playlists” of jobs. These can center around anything, whether it’s something like “Fintech’s Top Startups”, “Breaking into Product Management” or even something like “Last minute internships for procrastinating students”. Users can explore our selection of playlists and follow the ones they like. Anytime a job is posted to one of their followed playlists it’s displayed in their stream tab, creating an intuitive and easy to navigate job finding experience. Once you’re set up with us, all you have  to do is occasionally check your stream, we’ll handle all the rest.

What do you believe the biggest challenge is in finding employment online?

I could write an entire essay on this question alone. There’s a lot of problems in a lot of different areas, but we’re focusing on the discoverability aspect of it. Studies have shown that over 40% of qualified applicants won’t apply to a job simply because they don’t ever see it. In this age of technologically connected societies, that’s a pretty jarring number.

How does Cardea stand out from competing platforms such as LinkedIn or Creatively?

At this current stage, we’re strictly focused on job discovery, rather than professional social networking. For both LinkedIn and Creatively, job search is a small part of their product, and it’s pretty easy to tell that from looking at their platforms (search bar, big database, low curation, bad filters). We think by directing our efforts to just one aspect of these types of larger horizontal platforms, we can deliver a superior experience that we can then be built further features off of.

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What has been one “high” and one “low” in starting Cardea?

Definitely a high was letting our first users onto the platform.  We’re still in the process of testing and building but that was the culmination of so much work and planning so that was a big moment. As far as lows, we initially had a solution for adding jobs to the platform that we quickly realized was impossible to scale, and that was definitely a tough pill to swallow. Thankfully, we were able to get our heads together and figure something out on the fly.

What are future goals or milestones you hope Cardea to achieve?

We’re viewing this next year as a “building” phase for us. We want to really build the best product possible without needing to rush that market. Thankfully we’ve generated enough user demand for us to continue to test and validate our ideas around. In that sense, I’d say our goals for the immediate future are making the people that do get access to our private beta extremely happy. To us, this looks like high engagement, high retention and positive word of mouth growth. While the initial signs have been encouraging, there’s a lot more we can do to get even better.

Cardea targets recent college graduates and junior level positions, why have you chosen this market?

It’s really a scaling issue. To handle the amount of content we’d need to pump out to service older candidates is something we can’t really do right now. That being said, I think the current model is well suited for anyone up until their 3rd or 4th job, at which point people are usually moving around strictly via word-of-mouth referral. We might actually be even better off for people a little later in their career, as they usually have slightly more market awareness and a better understanding of what they’re looking for in their next step. One thing I will say about the younger demographic is that our UX is something they’re extremely comfortable with. Our entire generation has become accustomed to the act of following niche content channels, then scrolling through a central feed that aggregates all of that content.

What features are you rolling out on the site in the near future that you are excited about?

We’re working on a lot of really exciting things. In the near term, we really want to beef up our core consumer offering. This means expanding into different industries, allowing users to favorite and save companies instead of just lists, bringing in a search aspect (that doesn’t take away from our core model), and revamping the entire design of the platform. In addition, we’re currently building a machine learning tool that should allow us to increase our volume of jobs by a significant margin.

What is your advice for recent graduates applying for jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Don’t be discouraged! COVID-19 has hit businesses hard, but there are still plenty of companies hiring out there and plenty of positions that need to be filled.

In terms of how to go about the search process, you should have a few companies you’re particularly excited about, and at least begin to think about what it is you want to do with your career. We spend arguably the most amount of time in our adult life doing things for our employers, so finding companies that align with your goals, values and interests is crucial. There are a ton of companies out there that are doing really amazing work, you just need to find them.

 

Jenna Willis on being a Personal Trainer to the Stars

From actor to personal trainer, Jenna keeps fit and her clients fitter in sunny California.

Jenna Willis is a Jersey girl, born and raised, who grew up with three older brothers. With familial competition running deep in her veins, Jenna notes that athleticism was not a choice for her. While attending college, Jenna was the shortest Division 1 collegiate volleyball player in the nation, a credit to her natural knack for sports. However, Jenna involved herself in competitive sports as much as in theater and dreamt of becoming an actor one day. Jenna’s pursuit of professional acting led her to ultimately move to California to chase her dreams. 

Working as an actress in Los Angeles, Jenna never abandoned exercise and used it as a coping mechanism to deal with stress and anxiety. She mentions that exercise was especially crucial for her when she was dealing with a difficult break up a few years ago. Jenna began exploring strength training and lifting more during this time, which helped to strengthen her body and clear her mind. As Jenna’s career took off and she was able to book more jobs in TV and modeling, she noticed that she was also attracting greater attention in the gym. On three separate occasions, Jenna had fellow gym-goers ask her for help with fitness techniques, using machines, and targeting parts of their body. Jenna took this as a sign that all of her dedication to fitness had led to a greater purpose: helping others achieve personal success in their health and wellness journeys. 

Jenna BandsImmediately, Jenna signed up for a course to become a certified personal trainer. Soon after, along with auditioning and booking acting jobs, Jenna started to train clients on the side in 2017, getting paid for what she loves to do. A win-win I would say! Jenna credits hard work and preparation in enabling her to be successful in her personal training business as well as the support she received from her friends. Since she started personal training, Jenna’s business has been growing tremendously, capturing the attention of celebrities like Tara Reid, Lala Kent, and Liza Koshy, all of whom she has trained.  

What differentiates Jenna from other personal trainers? Not many incorporate the mind, body, and spirit as she does, Jenna says. Jenna is adamant about the fact that what you see on the outside is only a fraction of what is important. The true magic is when the mind, body, and spirit are aligned in terms of healthy and holistic living. Jenna also wasn’t shy to mention that she is a natural goofball that isn’t afraid to show people who she truly is in front of her audience. Like all of us, she pokes fun at herself and embraces the awkwardness that can come along with working out. “We are all growing together. Fitness is not perfection” she states during our conversation, an important reminder for all of us to take to heart. 

IMG_5995 (1)Even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, Jenna was doing virtual training sessions to people all over the world, which has made her exclusive transition to digital so smooth. Yet, Jenna notes that her biggest motivation in starting her newest program “Don’t Sweat It Alone” was her lack of motivation in the beginning of the pandemic. Jenna was having a hard time getting excited about doing her training and couldn’t imagine that if she couldn’t get up and do some squats, what others must be feeling like. As a result, Jenna made a promise to show up, not only for herself, but for her followers by going live on Instagram with her workouts. Jenna received such positive feedback from doing those sessions, which motivated her viewers to get out of bed in the morning, that she turned the Instagram Live sessions into a regular occurrence. Jenna has since formalized “Don’t Sweat It Alone” into a virtual fitness and healthy living membership and community that is all online. Jenna goes live three times a week within the community, with workouts that are tailored to working out home with minimal equipment. Jenna also ends every workout with a meditation and brings in nutritionists and experts from across the fitness spectrum to talk on the platform. If you sign up for the program get ready for sweaty selfies, free giveaways, and a lot of plank rows and squat presses- two of Jenna’s favorite at-home moves! 

What has been the most challenging part of starting this venture of personal training? Jenna mentions that there is always going to be road bumps, but it’s figuring out how to pave them. Every time you take two steps forward, be prepared to take five steps back, but be motivated enough to make the leap forward again. “Trust the process” is what Jenna says, a mantra that we can all use to benefit from.


Want to get in on all that “Don’t Sweat It Alone” has to offer?

Head to the website and follow her on Instagram

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A Semester at Sea with Justin Williamson

Have you ever thought that a semester at sea was right for you? Read all about Justin’s experience to find out!

Although studying abroad is not at the front of any student’s mind right now, it really should be! Planning your academic career around your study abroad experience is critical in making sure you graduate on time and taking the classes you need to. My good friend Justin is one of those people who definitely benefitted from looking ahead, packing in two semesters abroad during his time in college. One of them was Babson’s BRIC program, which I also participated in, and the other was the Semester at Sea program. Justin notes that his semester at sea was a unique and unforgettable experience that he hopes others will consider too. If you think you might be interested or want to know what the program is all about, this will be worth the read!


 

Justin grew up in Los Angeles, California and was heavily involved in the local Jewish community, which he credits to instilling in him a curiosity about the world and teaching him how to ask questions. Justin brought his passion for learning to Babson, where he attended business school. In high school, Justin focused on associating with a close circle of friends, however, at Babson things changed dramatically. Justin realized the value of forming relationships with people distinctly different from himself. Babson College is ranked by Forbes as the number one college for international students and is home to an international student population that makes up 26% of the undergraduate student body, making it the perfect place to meet people from across the globe. When Justin formed friendships with those from different backgrounds, his perspective on life and the world around him grew exponentially. 

Like myself, Justin went on Babson’s BRIC Program his junior year, which only expanded his mind further, as he lived and traveled to Russia, India, and China over the course of three months. Despite having lived in Israel for a summer and having traveled extensively with his family, Justin found that his experience on BRIC was different. On BRIC he was able to learn more in-depth about the cultures that surrounded him through embedded excursions and personal exploration. To him, the classroom was coming alive. From this experience, Justin knew that he wanted to continue to learn while he traveled. He valued the experience of learning about a topic and then going to experience it for himself, which inspired him to apply and participate in the Semester At Sea study abroad program his first semester senior year. Semester At Sea is a study abroad experience where a cohort of students from across the globe study and travel on a ship over the course of one semester. With some extra advanced placement credits from high school, Justin was able to squeeze this extra semester of study abroad into his college curriculum- and it was well worth it. 

While on Semester At Sea, Justin visited the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Croatia, Morocco, Ghana, Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago, Ecuador, and Costa Rica over the course of his semester. Although this might seem intimidating to many, Justin had no apprehensions about this next adventure and was excited to see what this new opportunity had in store for him. When reflecting on his experience, however, Justin highlighted the importance of taking the time to process all of the incredible experiences that he had during his travels. “You are having so many unique experiences that are so different from one another, if you don’t take the time to deconstruct what you did, you miss the opportunity to learn and grow” Justin mentions as a take away. “When on Semester At Sea, you have to take the time yourself to turn experiences into learning experiences” and, as a result, Justin kept a journal to document every day spent on and off the ship. 

Justin’s notes that his favorite part of this unique study abroad experience was living on the ship. Surrounded by water for days at a time and with no distractions, Justin highlights that you are able to forge deep and meaningful relationships with the people around you, whether it be with peers or professors. Through this, Justin was able to create strong friendships and global understandings.

A typical day at sea for Justin consisted of waking up, having breakfast, taking classes, eating lunch, and then attending more classes. In the evening, Justin had time to complete his assignments and hang out with friends before having dinner and then attending a speaker series that Semester At Sea sponsored nightly. The speaker’s topic ranged based on the upcoming country that the ship would be docking at. For example, Justin notes attending a talk on the history of the Panama Canal shortly before the ship traveled down the canal itself. On land, when the ship had docked, students took part in a field experience based on what they learned in the classroom. When they were not having a field experience, students were free to roam about the country and explore for themselves. Justin notes his trip to Ecuador being one of his favorites, as he stayed with his Semester At Sea friends at an Ecuadorian host family’s house, living like a true local. 

Overall, Justin’s Semester At Sea experience helped him to understand that people from other cultures have a distinct way of viewing the world and there is a reason for that, being in the way that they live, their political system, their culture- you name it. In experiencing the people and their respective country first hand, Justin was allowed to relate and connect with people in a new way. “The experience as a whole has made me want to experience the globe even more, making me eager to travel and work with people who are from different countries. There is no doubt that you grow more when you are around people different other than yourself” Justin says. 

What is some advice Justin would give to someone who is also interested in Semester At Sea?

Justin suggests that you ask yourself: are you willing to embrace the unknown? And what is your tolerance for uncertainty? There is so much out of a Semester At Sea student’s control that you have to be open minded and willing to challenge your perceptions and beliefs. Justin also mentions that if you prioritize experiential learning, Semester At Sea might be perfect for you. What Justin learned in terms of life skills and experience during this semester abroad is more than he could have ever achieved in the classroom. The most impactful statement Justin made during our conversation was the fact that “Semester At Sea is so unique because, despite such uncertainty and discomfort that can come with travel, you are able to take that step out of your comfort zone because you know you are only a few days away from returning to comfort back on the ship. That is what helps students learn and grow in ways they would have never imagined.” If you ask me, that is a deep dive worth taking. 

 

3 Friends Picking their Top 3 Beauty Items Part IX

The 3 beauty products 3 of my friends swear by.

Friends, friends, friends, the time has come at last to say goodbye! 27 friends and 27 products later, here we are! This will be the last traditional post of the series, which only leaves next week when, I- your friend- share 9 of my favorite products with you! Thank you so much for coming along for the ride. I hope you took away some new beauty recommendations, cracked a smile ever Friday morning, and remembered how important your friends are. Without our friends and the ones we love, what fun would this world be? Who would we share make up tips with, who would help us choose eye shadow colors, and who would lend us a make up wipe at the end of the night? Lipstick doesn’t last forever, but with enough care, time, and attention friends can.

Srishti Soni

@srishtisoni

#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Les beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Blush Stick in N°24 by Chanel

How often you use it

Everyday- the only makeup I use

What you like about the product

It looks super natural and is perfect for everyday use. Bonus it smells great!

How you found it

At the Heathrow Airport. As someone who doesn’t use / like a full face of makeup, Im always looking for a product that looks and feels natural but put together. Im also very lazy when it comes to makeup so this is perfect and I just apply by hand. 

#2 Favorite Beauty Product and company that sells it 

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Skin perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant by Paula’s Choice

How often you use it

Twice a week

What you like about the product

Skincare is very important to me as I rarely use makeup and exfoliating is the key to having bright, fresh and clear skin. I used to use scrubs in the past which are really rough and therefore bad for your skin. Chemical exfoliants on the other hand are amazing at getting rid of dead skin and debris making my skin look clear and smooth.

How you found it

I’ve been binging skincare TikTok and came across this product a few months ago. Game changer!

#3 Favorite Beauty Product and company that sells it

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Lip Butter Balm by Summer Fridays

How often you use it

Everyday and Night

What you like about the product

Again with the no makeup look, this is a great product that doesnt make you look too dressed up but adds a glossy shine to your lips. I used to be obsessed with lip gloss growing up and Im very much going back to that look. Not to mention it keeps your lips hydrated and smells delicious.

How you found it

Browsing through Sephora


Grace Tao

@gtaotao

#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Double Eyelid Tape by Daiso

How often you use it

Everyday

What you like about the product

I have natural double eyelids, however, I like to have it look more apparent without the surgery so I use double eyelid tape everyday. This is absolutely my number one favorite beauty product because I swear by it everyday!

How you found it

Amazon

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Tarte Tartelette in Bloom Clay EyeShadow Palette by Tarte Cosmetics

How often you use it

Every time I put on makeup

What you like about the product

I love the neutral/pinkish color tones. This is the only eye shadow palette I use, and I’ve already used up and repurchased 3.

How you found it

My cousin recommended to me

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Anessa Shiseido Sunscreen by Shiseido

How often you use it

Everyday

What you like about the product

It is a lightweight sunscreen that is SPF 50+ PA++++.  Sunscreen is an essential part of my beauty routine, and this is by far my favorite sunscreen. I can layer primer and foundation on top of it and still have a nice finish. It does its job and doesn’t make my face cakey!

How you found it

I first discovered it when I travelled to Japan, and loved it ever since.    


Bianca Phillips

@biancaavictoria

#1 Favorite Beauty Product

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Super Shock Highlighter in Flexitarian by Colourpop

How often you use it

Whenever i want a fresh, highlighted look (you only need a tiny bit) or when I am going out with full makeup

What you like about the product

It is the absolute BRIGHTEST and SPARKLIEST highlighter I’ve ever tried AND it’s only $8. It is a great dupe for the Becca highlighters but better and cheaper!

How you found it

Youtube    

#2 Favorite Beauty Product

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Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution by The Ordinary 

How often you use it

1-2x a week, at night

What you like about the product

It’s only $7 and it does a great job of cleaning your skin at the end of the day without stripping the skin of its natural oils. 

How you found it

TikTok

#3 Favorite Beauty Product

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Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum

How often you use it

Once a day, in the morning

What you like about the product: it does SUCH an amazing job of brightening your skin, smoothing out the texture, and preventing fine lines. Its ingredients are all natural, and also the packaging is adorable.

How you found it

My older sister 🙂


Stay tuned for next week where I share nine of my favorites!

Advice on a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul during Quarantine with Christine Porr (Part III)

Self-care is important, which is why Christine and I have brought you our favorite ways to navigate the challenges of quarantine.

Time sure flies when you are having fun! We have finally come to the last post of Christine and my series on wholistic health during quarantine. It has been such a joy to share some of the things that we are doing to make this time more manageable and constructive. Christine is a wealth of knowledge and I am so happy to have collaborated with her on these posts- trust me I have learned more in these few posts than I have all of quarantine. This week, we talk about one of the most important aspects of our being: our spirit. Whether you are a religious person, spiritual person, or you are just going along for the ride, there is something nestled in this post just for you. 🙏

Spirit

Christine

  1. Find a quiet uninterrupted place, and set aside time each morning, noon, or evening to read the Bible and pray. I know I’ve had times when I’ve struggled with loneliness during this period, but it helps me to remember that I can find fellowship with God, anytime, anywhere.
  2. Identify an accountability partner to do a Bible Study with you. I recently did Breaking Free by Beth Moore with one of my friends. We each completed the daily studies on our own and then texted each other screenshots of the parts that challenged us most or just our general reflections on the content.
  3. Stay consistent with attending church, even if it’s virtual. Pour your morning cup of coffee, sit down, and prioritize this period of worship, as you would in person. If your church offers virtual connect hours and/or small groups, I would highly recommend attending these as well. Each Sunday morning, I tune into my church’s virtual service and then join the Zoom “coffee hour.” It’s been such an encouraging time of meeting new friends, reconnecting with old ones, and praying over our respective requests and praises.

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A few final thoughts. It’s okay not to be okay some days and to just cut yourself some slack. The world and our personal worlds are all in flux. Everyone is going through something. Don’t feel like you have to minimize your own experience because someone else “has it so much worse.” Take time for yourself and turn for support to family, friends, and most importantly God. He has the world in His hands and will always supply your daily bread, whether you anticipate it or not.

Ursula 

During this challenging time we are facing, getting in touch with our spirituality is super important, thanks for reminding us Christine! It is crucial for us to be able to clear our minds and find stillness, which can come through prayer, meditation, yoga, or some deep belly breathes. When we hold tight to things, it can only bring on more frustration and anxiousness. Sometimes it is best to just let go and see what happens. I have also found that talking it out with someone can really help bring light to the stresses I am facing. In doing so, I have felt that some of the things that I was so stressed about, were all made up in my head! I am no stranger to the fact that I often stand in my own way. It is important to find someone you can speak to and confide in to help with your mental well being. Trusted therapists, family members, and close friends are important people to have on standby that can help you to gain a new perspective, offer some helpful advice, and lend an ear. 

Calm and Headspace are two popular meditation apps that might be useful to you. Headspace’s Chief Music Officer is John Legend, so if that doesn’t spell success I don’t know what does!


My parting words? 

 
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