As a young girl, I remember driving up the street and passing by these gigantic mansions along Turquoise Drive. I remember bring envious of the people who live inside those castles. What was it like living inside those gigantic walls? What were their lives like? Growing up, I had one simple dream-
To live in a house even bigger.
And so for years I did my best to achieve that dream. I knew what I wanted to be in life, but I didn’t know how to get there. I always did my best in school and did well in all my classes (except math) but none of the subjects I learned in school connected to me (except theater, but who can really break into Hollywood nowadays). There was no specific field I excelled at.
I was an average student.
But deep inside, I knew that there was something missing in this mess they call the education system. There’s a calling for me out there. One day, it will come, and I can break out of this shell to unlock my full potential.
Enter Junior Achievement.
Taking the position of Human Resources Department President of Herban Movement was hard. I didn’t know exactly what to do most of the time- but I knew that I could learn on the job. Most of the officers were my friends, so it made it easy to communicate. Sometimes I struggled managing one hundred something student employees and keeping tabs on how much points they’ve made in our incentives program, but something inside me told me to stick to this gig because it would take me somewhere.
My first event was the 2014 San Francisco Business Time’s Most Admired CEO Awards. I remember being so nervous- How should I act? What should I wear? You know what, this was an important event. I was to dine with some of the most successful CEOs from San Francisco at the Fairmont Hotel. So I slapped on my $30 Kardashian Kollection dress (which had an eyelash glue stain from some clumsiness in homecoming) and a sharp blazer then got into Joseph’s car headed to the city.
As we enter the event, I had the mindset that we were to sit down and watch these successful people go about their night and accept their awards. Surprise- looks like this is my first networking night. I was expected to physically talk to these successful people and mention how I am successful too.
“Hi, I’m Tiffany. I’m a senior. I joined Junior Achievement less than a month ago.”
This on top of the fact that I didn’t even know what networking was. I was told that we had to split up to cover the entire room. At first it was tough. Imagine talking to millionaires on an empty stomach? To be honest, I barely knew anything about Herban Movement so I let my colleagues do most of the talking. As the evening went on, I learned on the spot and became more comfortable networking. By the end of the night, I was talking pop culture with an SFBT exec also named Tiffany and cracking jokes with execs from BevMo.
After the networking portion, we moved to a different room for the awards ceremony and dinner reception. At some point, our mentor for the night, Julie Strandh (who I miss dearly), introduced us to the crowd. My gut dropped. Please don’t ask us to stand. Please don’t ask us to speak.
“The Future business leaders of America,” she says, "the young entrepreneurs from Herban Movement".
And just like that, Herban Movement was on their feet as they were introduced name by name.
The entire room burst into an applause.
Mama, I made it.
I’m not going to lie- I felt like I didn’t deserve the applause; given that I was brand new to this company program. But inside, I still felt like Beyonce at the Met Gala. I felt like Britney Spears making a comeback after the 2007 VMAs. I felt like Lady Gaga cracking out of her egg at the 2011 Grammys. This was my moment to shine- and I loved every single clap.
I spent the rest of the night asking people if they witnessed Kanye proposing to Kim in the city and taking selfies with the World Series ring. But just as good things come and go, the night ended. I remember Mahal freaking out over the fact that we just spent the last five hours living the Blair Waldorf life.
“This night foreshadows our lives.” I told everyone.
And you know what? It still is. That was the beginning of a crazy journey with Herban Movement. Although we had a lot of good memories everywhere from San Francisco to Washington, DC, this particular one rests on a diamond-encrusted place in my heart.
One day, I’m going to be in my own mansion far away from Turquoise Drive, sipping bottomless mimosas on my rooftop deck. Until then, I have this memory to keep me going.
Tiffany Gonzales is a Marketing student at California State University, Northridge. Her hobbies include cuticle care and the E! Network.