Professional SpotlightSpotlight

Being part of the online world means searching tirelessly and endlessly for other people who can provide us with fresh perspectives and new inspiration. Someone who continues to inspire us post after post is Carly Heitlinger of The College Prepster. We’ve been long time fans and were excited to meet Carly in person when we moved to New York City last winter. One of our favorite things about The College Prepster is how authentic her writing is and how much she shares with her online family (and we can’t forget Teddy!). When we sat down with her at a coffee shop on the Upper East Side, she was engaging, relatable, and outgoing.

From starting a blog in her college dorm room at Georgetown University to building it into a self-established brand and career, we are so impressed with everything Carly has done and can’t wait to see what she does next!

Name: Carly Heitlinger
Education: B.S. in Marketing from Georgetown University
Follow: TheCollegePrepster.com / Instagram / Twitter / Facebook

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Carly Heitlinger: I definitely think that the idea that there will always be a tomorrow and there’s only one today is great. We are so young and we have everything to gain and nothing to lose – so I’m so glad I started my company when I was 19 because for one I was a little bit naïve and I didn’t know what I was doing, and there was no fear because I literally had nothing to lose. I didn’t have to make money right away, I didn’t have to be financially independent, and I didn’t have to worry about a mortgage or a family. I think that the more you figure out now, the better off you’re going to be later. Make a lot of mistakes now.

CJ: You are the blogger behind The College Prepster, which you started when you were a freshman at Georgetown as a creative outlet. What are three most important skills that you use on a daily basis?

CH: I would say some sort of public speaking element is useful. I’m very introverted – I think that’s why I started a blog so that I could be behind the computer rather than in front of people – the fact is that I do have to go out and speak to people even though that’s not my natural inclination. But I’ve practiced so much that meeting strangers five years ago would have been horrifying, but now it’s normal and I don’t get as nervous. So being able to effectively communicate with people you don’t know is a huge thing.

Another skill is being hyper-organized. I think a big issue that a lot of people face is letting things slip through the cracks because they’re not organized. I think it’s the easiest thing you can do to set yourself up for success. Making sure you have a calendar, transferring things from your computer to your phone with iCalendar. Staying on top of your email. Making sure you’re paying bills on time. It’s boring being an adult, but at the very least you save yourself from a few headaches and embarrassment down the line. You don’t want financial mistakes you made when you were 18 or 20 to haunt you. Organization is a habit.

I also think that effectively managing stress is a big skill. It’s not as tangible of as skill as staying organized, but I think that a lot of people our age are prone to letting stress either freeze them or stop them from doing things that they want to do. There will always be stressful situations that come up from now until the day we die. If you come up with good strategies and mechanisms to deal with those now and get in the habit now, that will really help. Problems that seem big now and would become huge later won’t be nearly as big. For me, knowing that I need to wake up every morning and walk my dog, talk to my mom, go to yoga, eat healthy, and cut back on caffeine – doing little things that help minimize stress – you just work so much more effectively if you’re not going a mile a minute with your internal thoughts.

CJ: You have gotten really into yoga. How do you stay healthy and do you have a fitness routine?

CH: I don’t really have one, but I was on the crew team for seven and a half years. The first year I was actually a rower and ran – I was never actually boated because I was terrible – but I would run all day. And then I fell out of the habit and I was an athlete in the mental sense but not physically. I do think that keeping your mind active is a huge skill. But I’ve been really bad in the past about being healthy.

Part of it is a quarter life crisis and realizing that this is the one body I have. I need to be thankful for having my health. I think making the choice and decision and really committing to being healthy has been the biggest thing – before I wasn’t committed but now for some reason I feel like I really care. I try to only eat bad things in moderation. Yoga has been a great way to get back into it, and now I try to walk for 45 minutes or more, which I think is pretty easy in New York. And taking the stairs versus the elevator – little changes like that all add up. One big thing is that I’ve been trying to drink more water.

Carly - by Bekka Palmer 2

CJ: How do you do about setting and tracking goals?

CH: I’m a very visual person. I learn visually – I use big number lines to track things that I want to achieve. I’ll set goals in my calendar. I’m very number driven. Getting other people involved helps too. I also break things down into quarters. I think you can set goals for the week, goals for the day. Those are really tangible goals that can add up. I also set quarter goals for my business and it percolates down into my personal life, too. For example, a year seems like such a long time to me, but 90 days seems manageable. Three months – that’s totally doable. With the quarter system you can track things more easily.

CJ: What is a memorable Spring Break trip you’ve had?

CH: I’ve actually only ever had one Spring Break ever. I was always on a crew team so our Spring Breaks were training trips, which were actually a lot of fun. They were two-a-days, but when you’re with your friends it’s so much fun. Then my senior year I wasn’t on the crew team anymore and my family went on a trip together. That was my best spring break because it was my only real spring break.

Carly - CH Insta

CJ: What are some travel tips that you would recommend?

CH: The biggest tip I would have is traveling with people who are like-minded with what is important to you. If you don’t want to get wasted and drink a lot, don’t go with people who are going to drink a lot. You’ll be in an environment where you’re not having a good time for making that decision not to drink, or you’ll feel like you have to play along even if that’s not what you want to do. Maybe you find two girl friends who want to plan a crazy quick week-long turnaround trip to Paris and you don’t want to drink at all. Make sure that you’re surrounding yourself with people who make decisions that you want to make.

I would also say spend Spring Break with your family because you don’t see your family as much when you’re an adult. If you don’t want to spend it with your immediate family, spend time with people you love and who you want to spend time with.

CJ: How do you combat really hard days? What do you do to keep yourself positive?

CH: Sometimes I need to surround myself with great friends or call my mom to vent. And other times I need to just spend time alone. Going for a long walk or spending a night curled up in bed reading can do wonders for my mental health! I also repeat to myself, “this too shall pass.”

Carly - by Bekka Palmer 3

CJ: Is there a cause or issue that you care greatly about? If so, why?

CH: Mental health on college campuses! I contribute in small ways to specific organizations, but I know there’s more that I want to do. I personally had such a hard time adjusting to college life and really struggled. There were some very dark days, especially in the beginning. Luckily, I found help on campus that helped me get back on track.

CJ: What advice would you give your 19-year-old self?

CH: I would remind her that things work out. I spent too much time convinced that my world was going to end, or that one little problem was going to throw off everything. Everything resets, or you find a new course that was better than one you would’ve taken otherwise. Everything happens for a reason. You’ll figure it out as you go. It doesn’t matter if you don’t know where you’re going as long as you’re going.

Carly Heitlinger Qs

Images by Bekka Palmer and Carly Heitlinger

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

If the first interaction you have with Roxanne Goldberg is reading through her C.V., be prepared for extreme intimidation. It reads fluidly and cohesively, with her incredible experiences fully show-cased and ready to inspire jaw-dropping moments of awe and admiration. While her career-oriented endeavors have been extensive in length and type, they have been equally passion-driven and purposeful in their makeup. Roxanne’s ongoing pursuits of intellectual and professional improvement are revealed in the hard work and commitment she delivers to every responsibility she takes on.

But when you sit down with Roxanne in person, nearly all traces of seriousness and intimidation fade – engaging, warm, and curious, Roxanne directs her efforts at trying to find out about what matters to the people around her. (Half an hour could pass before you realize you’ve spent more time talking about yourself and attempting to answer any number of thought-provoking questions Roxanne has sent your way.) Incredibly thoughtful and eager to discover, it’s no wonder that Roxanne has managed to cultivate such a strong network of personal and professional ties.

We hope you enjoy this wonderful Spotlight of Roxanne as much as we enjoyed having the opportunity to put it together. She is, quite simply, inspiring.

Name: Roxanne Goldberg
Age: 21
Education: B.A. in Art History from The George Washington University (Graduating Dec. 2014) | Art and Its Markets at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London | Human Relations and Effective Communications at the Dale Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC
Work: Curator at Gallery 102 at The George Washington University | Contributing Writer for Hi-Fructose Magazine | Curatorial Intern at The Walters Art Museum
Follow: Website | LinkedIn

Carpe Juvenis: How would you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Roxanne Goldberg: To seize your youth is to be honest with yourself and to do want you want to do when it feels right for you in your head, your heart and your stomach.

To seize your youth is to forget the immense pressures put on young people by their parents, by their teachers, and by their overachieving peers, and to take time for self reflection, to understand what is best for not just your academic or professional goals, but for what is equally and often more important, your personal health and inner desires.

CJ: What drew you to art to begin with? What keeps you hooked?

RG: Growing up, I was always surrounded by art. My mother was an interior designer and some of my earliest memories are picking out pieces of granite in stone yards. Whenever my family traveled, we visited museums and my parents always bought art from local artisans. I hadn’t thought about art as playing a central role in my life (in fact, I came to GW to study political science), but I now realize early exposure to art has largely shaped who I am and how I perceive the world today.

Art history is such a fascinating field of study because there is always something new to learn. A former boss of mine once said art history is what all the cool nerds end up studying. In many ways, I think he was right. A good art historian is an expert not only on methods and materials, but also on the social sciences, economics and political history, among other topics like languages, religion and philosophy. And yet, it’s a very social field. There is always an active discourse and it is impossible to be bored.

CJ: Could you please tell me more about your work as a curator? Do you have a favorite exhibition you’ve put together?

RG: While I have been very fortunate to have the opportunity to produce exhibitions at GW and one while studying abroad in Berlin, I think the term curator gets thrown around a bit too easily. Everyone is a curator, you curate your closet, you curate your blog, but in fact, the word curator means “overseer, manager, guardian,” and what real curators do is care for, cultivate and preserve collections for posterity. Yes, I call myself a curator because if I called myself a producer or organizer that would be confusing. My greatest respect is for the true curators, those who have the expertise and devotion that so few people have in the world, necessary to perform their jobs as civil servants, caring for and nurturing the material culture of our societies and the ones that came before us.

For that reason, I’d rather speak to an upcoming loan exhibition I am assisting with at The Walters Art Museum. The exhibition looks at the later Islamic empires—Safavid Iran, Mughal India and Ottoman Turkey—through a biographical lens. We are used to thinking about Western art history in terms of blue-chip names like Rubens or Picasso, but Islamic art tends to occupy a strange place between fine art and utilitarian object, where the artists and their patrons are too often forgotten, and the stage becomes set for the viewer to create a paradigm of the ‘other.’ This exhibition humanizes the Islamic world and tells the stories of some fairly unique and interesting characters. Working on this exhibition has been the single most rewarding experience of my undergraduate years. I’ve learned quite a lot about the process of exhibition making at a major institution and have been heavily involved in the research, which has been wildly enriching. For example, my first project was researching the exchange between the Ottoman Empire and European powers in the 18th century, and then selecting objects in the Walters’ collections that exemplify the types of diplomatic gifts King Louis XV would have given to Sultan Mahmud I. It might not sound that thrilling to your readers, but to me it was the most fascinating experience, and actually motivated me to apply for a Fulbright grant to Turkey.

CJ: Out of every course you’ve taken at any institution, which has been your favorite and why?

RG: This is such a difficult question. I have a horrible habit of becoming entirely obsessed with whatever I am studying at the moment, which makes nearly every course my favorite. For that reason, I’m going to alter your question a bit. If I had to re-take a course, and re-take it again and again indefinitely, it would be a sound art course I participated in at New York University Berlin. The professor was a very talented and extraordinarily smart sound artist named Andy Graydon. The course was very theory-based and thinking through and attempting to practice such concepts as reductive listening raptured me. We also learned how to use AbletonLive, which is a software program many DJs use, so that was very cool. But what had the greatest effect on me, was spending a lot of time just listening—taking sound walks and listening to the environment; listening to interstitial spaces like whispers and feet shuffling in museums or wind passing under bridges; and listening to sound art (the abundance of which made Berlin such an inspiring city in which to study this subject). The power of observation is profound, and the impact this course continues to have on my daily life has been remarkable. It sounds corny, but I’ve literally learned to stop and smell (and listen to) the roses.

I also should note some courses and professors I feel indebted to: Modern and Post-Modern Art and Art Theory, which sealed my fate as an art history major; Black Mountain College and Beyond, which introduced me to John Cage; Professor Phil Jacks, with whom I’ve taken four courses at GW and who has become an important mentor; and Professor Mika Natif who exposed me to the wonders of Islamic art and encouraged me to pursue my current curatorial internship at The Walters Art Museum.

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CJ: As a student, what pushes you to diversify your schedule with more than just academics?

RG: I believe life is one long educational journey, so in many ways, my formal academic studies are just one small part of my identity as a student.

CJ: You recently curated LEGAL: Branco, Gen Duarte Nick Alive, Tikka, and Vermelho. What was that experience like?

RG: The process began in October 2013 when an artist I exhibited as part of Caged In, Corcoran professor Jeff Huntington, introduced me to his friend Roberta Pardo, who would become my co-curator for LEGAL. It was a very long and very exciting process and I learned quite a lot. I am excited to say it is still continuing, and the show is now traveling to Porter Contemporary in New York.

I am now working on an entirely different exhibition, Sensorium: The Art of Perception, which has been a very rewarding and creative exercise. I am collaborating with an artist friend I met at NYU Berlin, Talia Kirsh, who is an exceptional personality and a stunning photographer, videographer and sound artist. We are both interested in topics of wellness and Eastern philosophy, and the exhibition we are producing investigates both of these issues by creating an environment in which visitors are encouraged to learn about and explore these themes through sound installations, a smell sculpture, video works, and socially engaged works, in addition to more traditional media like painting and drawing. In addition to Talia, Sijae Byun, winner of the 2013 Phillips Collection Emerging Artist Prize, and Ryan McDonnell, GWU MFA candidate are included in the exhibition.

On Thursday, December 4 and Friday, December 5, we will be hosting Sensorium: The Symposium, which includes a conference featuring scholars from such diverse fields as art history, philosophy, English, Turkish, and medicine, from GW, Georgetown University and American University, as well as such activities as breathe work and sacred movement workshops. (We might also have a Cuban Shaman performing a healing ceremony, but this is not yet confirmed.)

CJ: What future advice would you give to yourself about working with international artists?

RG: Always be curious and remember a smile is recognized in all languages and cultures.

CJ: Why did you decide to travel and work abroad in Berlin?

RG: Berlin is arguably the most important center for contemporary art. The only other contender would be New York. However, because there is no or very little art market in Berlin, the city is much more susceptible to experimental and exploratory art practices. No one expects to sell his or her artwork, and therefore people aren’t afraid to take risks. There is a wonderfully contagious air of collaboration and it is an overall very supportive environment. I hadn’t thought about it before going, but the intellectual and cultural history of the country makes the German people, and Berliners in particular, very interested and supportive of the arts and humanities. I found it so exciting that I could be sitting next to a construction worker in a bar and he could speak intelligently about Deleuze and debate the merits of a recent exhibition.

CJ: Do you have a favorite museum?

RG: There are so many. In Berlin, KW Institute for Contemporary Art has what I think is one of the most ambitious and critically interesting programs for contemporary art, and the Pergamonmuseum fuels my love for Islamic art. All the museums in Vienna, particularly the Belvedere, Albertina and Kunsthistorisches Museum are absolutely stunning, and I have wonderful memories of visiting the Rubens House in Antwerp. In DC, nothing compares to the intimacy of the Phillips Collection. It also largely depends on what exhibitions are showing at the moment. For example, one of my most memorable museum experiences has been in the Pierre Huyghe exhibition at Museum Ludwig in Cologne, which although is a wonderful institution with a great collection, was eclipsed by the Huyghe show itself, which could have been anywhere.

CJ: How do you stay organized? What tools do you use?

RG: I owe my organizational skills to being a product of the Montessori school system. I make lists for everything and then make lists for my lists. I often don’t follow these checklists and time schedules, but seeing what needs to get done, hand-written on paper, keeps these to-do items at the front of my mind. And they get done. This includes scheduling time for things like preparing and eating three proper meals a day, exercising, and doing things that are important to my personal life, like seeing live music and hosting dinner parties.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

RG: Nothing is impossible, only some things are temporarily inconvenient.

CJ: Do you think the career advice to “Follow your passion” is effective?

RG: I think I’m much too young to be giving career advice, but this is something that today, I believe in full-heartedly. Ask me again in ten years.

Roxanne Goldberg Qs

CJ: Your work with Caged In: DC Painters Explore the Aesthetic Influences of John Cage was a labor of love. Not only did you source artists to provide original artwork, but you also created a 34-page catalog and ran a panel discussion with scholars and composers. What did you learn from this project? How has it influenced your future work?

RG: I recently went to the opening for a solo exhibition of an artist I exhibited at Caged In, Jeff Huntington—the same artist who introduced me to Roberta Pardo, co-curator of LEGAL. One of the works, a layered collage piece, was titled “Xenia/John,” a direct reference to John Cage and his early lover Xenia Andreyevna Kashevaroff, whose portrait was the subject of Jeff’s painting for Caged In. When I spoke with Jeff about the work, he said my assignment—to paint a work of specific dimensions while listening exclusively to a given set of John Cage’s music—was a catalyst to a new process and a new body of work, and that he still to this day sometimes listens to John Cage while working.

One of the most inspiring parts of the exhibition has been the aftermath. And thus, one of the greatest lessons of Caged In has been to always remain open and receptive and to allow past influences affect me in surprising, unexpected, and sometimes uncomfortable ways. On a more practical level, it has also taught me the importance and value of following-up and staying in touch with people from my past.

It is impossible to talk about Caged In without talking about the man himself, John Cage. Arguably the single most influential person in both visual art and music of the 20th century, John Cage continues to incite profound responses, more than twenty years after his death. This is the hypothesis I sought to test, and the results speak for themselves. Getting back to your question, yes, the exhibition was a labor of love. I spent the entire summer of 2013 reading John Cage’s books and listening to his music. I was abroad at the time, so the selection of artists was a bit more hands-off than I typically prefer, but miraculously, things melded together quite naturally and each of the artists I reached out to was very receptive to the idea of the project, which required each artist to not only produce an original artwork, but also to create an original piece of writing to be juxtaposed reproductions of their artworks in the catalog. The responses were overwhelming and quite surprising. Another lesson I learned is to encourage myself and others to think outside the box. I asked for painting and got photographs, charcoal drawings and glitter.

Caged In was the first occasion I organized and moderated a panel discussion. I actually really love public speaking—I always have—so I was excited to have this opportunity, but I was incredibly intimidated at the prospect of posing questions and creating an intellectual discourse with three people I admire so deeply for their brilliance and expertise. The rewards were enormous however, as I learned so much from that one-hour, and have since relished in opportunities to bring interesting individuals together for the sake of conversation and intellectual challenge (hence Sensorium: The Symposium on Dec. 4 and 5). I also learned to never be afraid to say, “I don’t know,” be genuinely curious about everything, and that a bit of professionalism goes a long way.

CJ: Who – from the past or present – inspires you?

RG: This is another difficult question. I’m continually inspired, not just by people, but also by objects, spaces, sensory experiences. If you hadn’t already asked the question about Caged In, I would say John Cage without hesitation. But I won’t bore you with more praises of Cage.

I am incredibly inspired by my intern supervisor at The Walters Art Museum, associate curator of Islamic and South Asian Art Dr. Amy Landau. Amy is one of the most brilliant and poised people I have ever met and her level of commitment to and care for her curatorial projects and scholarly pursuits is unparalleled. I feel so fortunate to have had such a thoughtful individual not only as a boss, but also as a mentor and a teacher. I am really quite devastated that as my time at GW is coming to an end, so too is my internship.

IMG_8236CJ: Would you agree with the thought that the “Art World” can be characterized as inaccessible? How would you respond to that type of critique?

RG: Sure, the “art world” can be inaccessible. But so can music or food, technology or finance, or any other field or subject for that matter.

CJ: What is your dream job?

RG: My major goal is to earn a Ph.D. in art history. I want to advance knowledge as an academic, and I aspire to be a curator at a major museum institution, where I will aim to create compelling exhibitions that contribute innovative approaches to the field, while also educating and enriching individual viewers and the larger community.

CJ: Who is your favorite artist?

RG: In terms of contemporary artists, I can never say I have a favorite because I am always learning about and being exposed to new individuals. At this moment however, I am very interested in Camille Henrot, a French artist whose exhibition Snake Grass (Schinkel Pavillion, Berlin) continues to haunt me; Susan Phillipz, Janet Cardiff, Angela Bulloch, and Fatima Al Qadiri are dizzyingly brilliant women working in sound; Anri Sala, Pipolotti Rist, Fang Lu, and Shirin Neshat all primarily work in video and are quite remarkable. Currently, I am deeply immersed in writing my honors thesis, which focuses on the artist collective Slavs and Tatars, and through my research, I’ve come to be highly interested in the socially engaged practices of Pedro Reyes, Francis Alÿs, Tino Seghal, and Pierre Huyghe. Other contemporary artists of current intrigue include: Alicja Kwade, Danh Vo, Double Fly Art Center, Olafur Eliasson, Afruz Amighi, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rachid Koraïchi, Faig Ahmed, and Hassan Hajjaj.

Going a bit further back in history, Franz Kline captured my heart long ago; I have a penchant for Dark Romanticism, particularly the works of Henry Füssli, Goya, Gauguin and Caspar David Friedrich; and though they often cannot be attributed to single artists, Islamic manuscripts are among the most captivating objects ever created.

CJ: Have you ever made art yourself?

RG: I make great two-dimensional boxes.

CJ: If you were to make art yourself, which medium would you use? (Painting, Drawing, Ceramics, installation, etc.)

RG: It would depend on the project! Probably something very intricate and detail oriented, like Jianzhi, which is the ancient art of Chinese paper cutting.

CJ: You’ve mentioned that you intend to earn a Ph.D. in art history. When would this happen and how would it benefit you? What would deter you from earning it?

RG: At this time, my focus is on honing my language skills before I commit to a Ph.D. program. Ideally, I would like to complete the Ph.D. before I am 30. If there were one word to describe me, it would be student. I love learning and there is nothing I can think of which could be more rewarding than fully dedicating myself to an academic study and contributing nuanced thought to a field about which I am highly zealous. I understand there are few things as arduous as writing a dissertation, however I crave that intellectual challenge and do not believe there is anything that would deter me.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 17-year-old self?

RG: Be confident, but be open and receptive to new influences and the possibility of change. Your beliefs and values are important, but they are not fixed. College is not a means to a job; it is a medium through which to gain a particular world perspective, one of an infinite number of lenses through which to see the world. This tinted perspective may challenge your previously held convictions, but this is good, this is a sign of growth.

Images: Courtesy of Roxanne Goldberg and Donna Ra’anan-Lerner

Professional SpotlightSpotlight

We met up with Shavanna Miller, the Co-Founder and CEO of Bloompop, earlier this fall in a coffee shop in the middle of bustling downtown Washington, D.C. Having grown up in the area, Shavanna knew the in’s and out’s of the metropolitan streets and kindly helped point lost passerbys in the right direction. It’s no wonder that she now runs an online marketplace that connects consumers with the best local florists across the country (think ‘Etsy for flowers’) – she is a natural community builder. Apart from providing beautiful flowers and an incredibly easy and enjoyable browsing and purchasing experience, Bloompop’s true success is in helping small businesses and consumers build a stronger community network.

Shavanna graciously shares her career trajectory, how she stays organized, and why she ultimately decided to come back to D.C. after having lived in so many great cities. This entrepreneur is making the world a better place one bouquet at a time, and we’re so excited to share her interview and introduce the face behind the flowers.

Name: Shavanna Miller
Occupation: Co-Founder/CEO, Bloompop
Age: 29
Education: The German School of Washington D.C.,B.S. in Environmental Science and Film Studies from Columbia University, London School of Economics and Political Science
Follow Shavanna: Facebook | Twitter |LinkedIn
Follow Bloompop: Bloompop | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define ‘Seizing Your Youth’?

Shavanna Miller: One thing I’ve tried to do is always say yes to opportunities. Whenever I’ve had to make a decision on something that could be important – whether its deciding to take a new job, making a leap into entrepreneurship, taking on additional work for a committee, or even helping someone else out – I’ve never regretted taking those opportunities – even if not everything pans out. There are a few times I’ve regretted not taking them for some reason or another, and that kind of regret is much worse. So my definition of Seizing Your Youth would be to act rationally about the opportunities you might take, but to ultimately take those opportunities, especially early on.

CJ: You studied film and environmental science at Columbia University – How did you decide what to study?

SM: Those were two topics I really loved on a personal level. For a while I thought that I was going to be working in film so a lot of my internships in school were related to that. I worked at a production company and an agency for actors. Those experiences were very fun and I still have many friends working in that industry. But somewhere along the lines I realized it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. The environmental side of things was a personal interest that I’ve always had. When I was growing up I raised and bred aquarium fish. My parent’s basement was filled with aquariums; I think I had 30 aquariums or so when I left for college. That was a lot of fun and it was how I learned about basic genetics, water quality, etc. I probably started that in the fifth grade and it’s something I hope to get back to when I have the space again.

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CJ: What did you do after you finished studying at the London School of Economics and Political science?

SM: When I finished graduate school I went back to New York. I started my career at Meetup, which was a great introduction to both the startup and tech worlds. It was smaller then than it is now, so I really had a chance to interact with every department. Eventually I left Meetup to go to Rosetta Stone in Washington, D.C., which was a fantastic experience as well and is also a great company. I was promoted there to ultimately be the head of web sales for the US consumer side of the business. I was responsible for a huge part of the company’s global annual sales – definitely a big, exciting thing to have on your shoulders. I had an amazing team there and we did everything from social marketing, to managing email and paid search platforms, to working with affiliates, you name it – basically anything related to digital sales. I managed a team of seven people who each had their own specializations. We were a very young, fun team and I loved the company.

CJ: What tools do you use daily to keep yourself organized?

SM: My sister is also an entrepreneur – she’s the CEO and co-founder of Kabinet based in New York – and the two of us have an ongoing debate about how we manage our time, and what tools we use. There are so many tools out there you can use, and I feel like you can have as many apps as there are people since everyone manages things differently. I’ve tried a million of them, but honestly I always end up coming back to a notepad and pen. I keep trying to figure out how to modernize this classic method with technology. I heard about a partnership between Moleskin and Livescribe recently which sounds like it could be exactly right for me. And of course I also use google calendar for meetings so it can sync to my phone, but for actual tasks I always come back to paper and pen To-Do lists. Old school.

CJ: What made you decide to come back to D.C. where you grew up after living in a couple of different cities?

SM: I actually came back to D.C. because of the Rosetta Stone opportunity. I wasn’t necessarily looking for a job here, but it came up and it was an exciting opportunity. So it was almost a coincidence that I grew up here, but it’s great being around my parents again and being back in this city.

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CJ: Where did you get the inspiration for Bloompop?

SM: I’m someone who has always personally loved flowers, and what I discovered as I looked into this space was that it’s a really outdated industry in more aspects than I’d initially realized. I knew that the experience for consumers was really terrible, but it was shocking to discover how detrimental it is to the florists themselves. Local florists will often work with a mega-network like 1800flowers etc, but they don’t get to create any of their own designs, have no creativity in the process, and to add insult to injury often barely make money off of those orders. I’ve actually spoken with many who literally lose money on filling orders for the big flower behemoths. It was an industry ripe for disruption. I decided to take my experience in digital sales and tech, combine it with my love for flowers, and tackle this outdated industry with better quality products, better tools for both florists and consumers, and modern tech and marketing experiences.

CJ: What has been the greatest success since having started Bloompop?

SM: Definitely putting my team together. Matt, my co-founder and CTO, for example, is brilliant and also somebody who is such a perfect cultural fit with the company. The two of us get along amazingly and I’m finding that that’s incredibly important. We all spend so much time together, so being able to find the right people – on both a personal and professional level – has been one of my biggest successes. It was a very deliberate thing in finding them and building our team; it wasn’t something I took lightly.

bloompop launch

CJ: Can you please tell me a bit about your past experience with The Craft Factory?

SM: I’ve always been into DIY projects. Craft factory was something I started when I was back at Meetup. It was a group that came together every month and worked on a project together. I think that DIY is a stress reliever for me because at Bloompop so much of my day-to-day is digital – from web sales and marketing to product work – it’s very much sitting front of a laptop. DIY is a nice way to do something with your hands.

CJ: You also have an Etsy shop called HudsonScout – can you please tell us more about that?

SM: I’ve been an Etsy seller for several years now – it’s great because it has really helped in my understanding of the supply side of an online marketplace. Which obviously comes in handy now with Bloompop. My shop on etsy sells first birthday candles. I actually started HudsonScout by selling candles in every number, but what I eventually saw was that nearly 95% of orders were for First Birthday candles. So now that’s really what the whole focus is.

CJ: Although you’re a young company, has Bloompop hired interns before?

SM: We had two interns last summer but none currently. I feel like hiring interns at such a small company can have a huge impact – it’s a combination of figuring out what they can be doing that really has an impact and also providing them with a valuable experience. We want interns who will be excited about Bloompop and become serious contributing members of the team.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?

SM: Become friends with professors at CU’s business school.

Image: Courtesy of Bloompop

Shavanna Miller Qs

SpotlightYouth Spotlight

It’s difficult to not think of Max Levine when we consider what it means to Seize Your Youth. Not too long ago we ran into Max at four in the afternoon on a Saturday, having just got off of his 24 hour shift as an EMT for the George Washington University Hospital. Despite his sleepless day, he was vibrant and excited to share what he had just spent the last 24 hours doing. It goes without saying that this is a person whose passion is contagious, and we are excited to share his experiences and advice with you. As a pre-med student at GWU, Max knows what it means to commit blood (literally), sweat, and tears into achieving his dreams.

Name: Max Levine
Age: 21
Education: B.S. in Biology and Spanish from the George Washington University
Discover: EMeRG

Carpe Juvenis: How do you define “Seizing Your Youth”?

Max Levine: I would define seizing your youth as recognizing the times when it’s okay to not care about the future or really anything in general and just do what you want to do.

CJ: What has been the most unexpected aspect of college?

ML: The most surprising part of college has been working as an EMT as a student. I never would have thought that this was even a possibility never mind something that I would take up as a hobby.

CJ: What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?

ML: Mostly class and an urgent need to urinate. That and morning breath that even offends me.

CJ: What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

ML: Do what needs to be done, but do whatever makes you happy.

CJ: What has been your favorite college class so far? Why?

ML: My freshman University Writing course called “American Myth Through Western Film.” This class was awesome. All we did was watch sweet old western movies and then write papers about them. Our final project was to make up our own plot for a film and then write a brief summary of what the movie would be. It was fantastic.

CJ: What does a day in your life look like?

ML: It starts with four scrambled eggs and some cold water ( I can’t stand room temperature water.) Shower, dress myself with pretty little thought regarding color/pattern coordination. I’ll usually go to class and end up skipping lunch. Then I’ll either go to EMeRG shift, the parasite lab, or then go do homework and end up going to sleep around 12.

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CJ: How did you get involved in parasitology? What are the benefits and difficulties with that work?

ML: The parasitology class is offered to undergrads and I took it for my major. I ended up volunteering in the lab because I needed some lab experience for medical school and ended up loving the people I met there. The benefits are incredible. I have been given many projects to work on that are getting me invaluable experience in research methods and lab work in general. I am getting published by the end of this semester and will be looking to get a phenomenal recommendation from my professor as well. The difficulties of the lab include the time commitment and the general frustration of failing science experiments however I would hardly say that these are difficulties. The pros outweigh the cons by a long shot.

CJ: What advice would you give to incoming freshman who want to be pre-med in college?

I would say to not worry about the other pre-med kids because they’re usually pretty obnoxious and will do anything to let you know when they’ve succeeded and you’ve failed. Get out and do other things and learn how to be a social human being. Although grades are important, you won’t be a good doctor unless you genuinely know how to talk to and relate to people in a sincere manner. Also be open to other options, there are plenty of other things to do for jobs in the BIO field, not just medicine.

CJ: You spent a summer working at hospitals in Chile. Could you please tell us more about that experience and how it influenced you?

ML: I worked in both a public and private hospital in Santiago, Chile for 3 months. The private hospital was much like any modernized hospital you would find in the US, just in Spanish. Working here, I had the privilege of observing numerous operations that ranged from gastrointestinal procedures to vascular complications. These were the best surgeons and doctors in the country (possibly the continent) operating in this hospital.

The public hospital was in a rough neighborhood on the outskirts of Santiago that treated about 1.5 million patients a year and was named the busiest public hospital in Chile. The building itself was an old tuberculosis asylum that was converted into a hospital and the majority of people that come are pretty short on cash. I had met a younger doctor at the private hospital that was also doing rotations at the public hospital so I would go with him to and from shift. Here I was able to get my hands dirty, so to speak, and I learned how to give stitches and was fortunately able to participate/assist in a range of surgical procedures. This included appendectomies, cholecystectomies (gallbladder removal), one leg amputation, and a handful of other procedures. The leg amputation was the most memorable by far simply due to the gravity of what was going on. A woman with severe diabetes had neglected an infection in her leg, which had led to the necrosis of the majority of her lower limb. We amputated the leg from just above the knee in order to saver her life. It was a powerful and surreal experience that I will never forget. I won’t get too graphic with this but the most profound moment was the moment the leg was cut free. I had been holding the leg in a fixed position from the start of the operation and as it detached, I remember holding the leg and just looking at it and taking in what was in my hands and what this meant for the woman who had lost this limb. It’s hard to say how this has affected me, however I know for sure that this will be a lasting memory.

CJ: You are double majoring with Biology and Spanish. Can you explain why and if it’s been worth it?

ML: I have been taking Spanish since the 6th grade. I can’t imagine my life without the ability to use Spanish in some way shape or form. Additionally, Spanish is a really useful language to know in this country and has helped me in the medical setting, being able to communicate with Spanish speaking patients. On more than one occasion I have had to use Spanish on a call with EMeRG and even more so in Chile. Learning Spanish has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made and the Spanish/ South American culture is definitely a prominent part of who I am today.

CJ: Between academics, working in the research lab, working as an EMT, and spending time on yourself, how do you juggle it all?

ML: There are three categories in college and everyone can only choose two. They are: Social life, Sleep, Good Grades. I have chosen to have a social life and “good grades” (in my case just study a lot and get okay grades) and I don’t really sleep a ton. I take medication for ADHD every day and it’s an amphetamine, which helps to keep me awake during the days (don’t worry it’s prescribed). I’m also just used to being tired all the time so little sleep isn’t a huge deal.

CJ: What is your favorite city?

ML: Boston. Hands down the best city on the planet. I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and it’s a city with a great personality and is more personal that New York.

CJ: What’s your favorite book?

ML: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon.

CJ: What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self?

ML: Don’t let high school get you down and don’t worry about your social status. The kids who peak in high school get what’s coming to them in college and don’t really amount to a whole lot. Don’t worry about what’s ahead; go run around without a wallet, cell phone or keys while you can because those days are long gone now.

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Culture

When I moved to Washington, D.C. eight months ago for a Capitol Hill internship in a Senator’s office, my mom told me I should keep my options open and that I could stay for the summer if the opportunity arose. I immediately pushed the idea aside. I had a job as a summer teller at a credit union waiting for me at home in upstate New York. It paid pretty well, wasn’t stressful, and I liked my coworkers. I couldn’t see giving up a sure thing. Plus, I had just finished a semester abroad in Denmark and I figured that by the end of the semester I would be more than ready to just have a relaxing “last summer at home before I graduate from college.”

Less than a month later I had been asked to stay and work in the Senator’s campaign office after my official Hill internship ended in May.

I definitely struggled with this choice, although almost all the outside advice that I got was to go for it. Ultimately, I listened to those voices and felt that I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to continue working on issues that interest me and for a person who I believe in. The opportunity to beef up my resume sweetened the deal.

Ultimately, once this opportunity arose I knew it wouldn’t be smart to turn it down. I can say for sure that I don’t want to be a bank teller “when I grow up.” I don’t know exactly what I what I want to be, but I do know that my time in our nation’s capital inspired me to want more for myself and I felt like I fit. For the first time I was surrounded by other people my age that wanted to talk about politics, or what was going on in the world, or what made us happy or mad or sad. Our elected officials, even in the midst of the “do-nothing congress,” inspired me, and I had the opportunity to see them in person, passionately speaking on important issues in hearings or on the Senate floor. I rode in an elevator with John McCain and I ran into Barbara Boxer struggling with her luggage at Union Station. For a political science nerd like myself, it was heaven.

hannah cohen CJ pic 1

My experience had low points as well. At the end of the spring semester, most of the amazing friends that I made left for the summer. Some of the new-ness of the experience wore off and reality set in. I decided that I wanted to come back to DC after I graduate in December, but I started to realize how many amazing, smart, talented people have the same plan that I do. It is definitely not going to be easy to move back to a city where I don’t know many people and try to start a life. The blueprint I have in my head for that life is definitely blurrier now than it was in March or April.

Here’s what I know: I’m going to give it a shot. The past eight months have been an experiment in stepping outside of my comfort zone. This is not something I have been historically known to do, but I decided it was time for me to make a little bit of an effort. I have also had to stop and cut myself some slack and remember that I am only twenty years old and I have time to figure things out. There have been moments where I have been so uncomfortable or nervous that I wanted to quit, but I have gotten through those moments and I am proud of myself for that. So that is the headspace I am trying to maintain. A lot of smart people have told me to have a plan, but to be flexible, because life is an unpredictable beast. As I start my last semester as an undergrad and make plans for afterwards, I am keeping that in mind.

HealthSkills

As you guys know from my last 1/2 Marathon Series post, I recently took part in Nike’s Women’s Half Marathon in April. It was a crazy, thrilling, heart-pounding (literally) experience and I would not have survived without the help of hours and hours of music.

That’s why I decided to curate some playlists for every stretch of the journey that will hopefully help you on your own road to the finish line! I tried my best to keep these playlists varied and interesting, but it will become clear pretty quickly that I have quite the affinity for anything Katy Perry or Top 40 related (ha!).

Warning: I have included some explicit versions of songs so please beware if you choose to take a listen.

When it comes to running we all have our own preferences, but I hope you can find some inspiration from the lists below! At the end of the day just getting out there and being active is all that matters, regardless of the jams playing through your headphones.

Miles 1-3: Get Pumped Up!

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Miles 4-6: Settle In (aka Steady Beats)

 

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Miles 7-9: Keep Going (aka Distraction Jams)

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Miles 10-12: Inspiration Zone (aka Finish Line is in Sight)

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Mile 13-13.1: Miracle Song This should be whichever song you love the most!

This will be blasting through your speakers as you cross that finish line, so choose wisely! Might I suggest Kelly Clarkson’s “A Moment Like This”?

 

What’s your favorite Miracle Song? Happy running!

EducationSkills

Running a 1/2 marathon is equal parts mental and physical endurance. Although I trained for about four solid months (January – April) before ever stepping foot on that race course, the actual event was an entirely different beast. Having never taken part of an athletic activity dedicated solely to running, I wasn’t sure what to expect. In the past I have played tennis and soccer, and I will also admit that I LOVE organized sports of any kind, so this was a brand new challenge for me. I wanted to outline the mental stages I went through during the race – I can still remember specific thoughts very vividly at certain miles so I wanted to share those with you. Looking back I can laugh at some of them and at myself, but when my legs had the chance to stop moving after those 13.1 miles I was most certainly the last one laughing.

I will genuinely say that taking part of this 1/2 marathon was one of the most invigorating experiences I have ever had. It was something I did entirely by myself and for myself. I was also reminded of how fortunate I am to have such an incredible family and network of friends who supported me literally every step of the way. Thank you, thank you, thank you to all of you. I am infinitely lucky to have you in my life. Also thanks to Nike for hosting such a well-planned event that benefited the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

What is an experience that meant a lot to you? Share it with the Carpe community!

Skills

Steve Prefontaine, a legendary long-distance runner who has held seven American track records, said the inspirational words above. This quote reveals that we each carry a gift inside us, but to develop and utilize whatever that gift might be we must fight hard and not be afraid to give all of our effort to it.

This past Sunday I had the opportunity to partake in the Nike Women’s Half Marathon in Washington D.C. It was my very first race of any sort and it was truly one of the most rewarding experiences that I have ever had. I am by no means a trained or skilled runner, but something inside me said “Go for it!” when Nike opened up the race registration nearly seven months ago. Not only did I learn about physical limits and how to push them, but I found new ways to challenge myself mentally and emotionally as well. Leading up to summer I will be cataloging what I learned to hopefully encourage you all and be encouraged in return by your own personal stories!