I drifted through high school without a purpose. My plans for the future included surviving high school with a 2.0 GPA, and then surviving community college the same way, and then maybe, just maybe, if I felt like it, I would get a college education. I did not know what I wanted to be. I did not know what I would become, or where I wanted to live, or if I wanted a family. Because I did not see purpose in education. But in reality, there was a time when I did.
When I was 7 my parents asked me, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” I told them that I wanted to be an astronaut. They told me to follow my dreams, and that one day I can reach the stars. Then when I was 10, they asked me the same thing. This time I wanted to be something more practical. I told them I wanted to be a cowboy. They told me that maybe one day, if I work hard enough, I might ride the first horse to space. Then when I was 16, they asked me what I wanted to be. I told them that I wanted to be a producer in Hollywood. It was then that they told me that I needed to be more practical. At some point, we reach an age when we are told to stop dreaming and become more practical. Because we won’t always be children, and one day we need to absorb life as it is and adapt to the world.
But throughout my parent’s disapproval, someone, or rather, a group of people, believed in me. Through Junior Achievement of Northern California, my friends and I established a student governed company called Herban Movement. Our goal was to sell cookbooks made entirely by students to the public. In two weeks, we were scheduled to compete at a local competition, where other student companies from Northern California would compete to be "The Company of the Year". We lost.
But before we left that building, we promised ourselves that one year from now, we would come back, and we would win. For months we pushed ourselves to the limit. We donated 40% of everything we made to The California Autism Foundation, and through Free the Children, we gave a family in Kenya farm animals, school supplies, and a life long supply of clean water. When we heard that California by itself uses 14 Billion plastic bags in just one year, we decided to support an upcoming Senate Bill that would outlaw the distribution of plastic bags in major retail stores. We developed Project Gaia, a line of reusable multipurpose bags, and portions of the profit would also go to charity. We decided that we would help our local community, by volunteering at local events, like visiting elementary schools to teach kids about entrepreneurship. And in one year, we fulfilled our promise. We took home the title of best business plan and best commercial at this year's regionals. But our journey was not over. We were selected to attend the national competition in Washington, D.C., where we took home the Microsoft Social Innovation Award for our hard work in combating social issues.
If I will take anything from this experience, it is that sometimes, the world might push mercilessly against what you want, but there will always be something that will fuel your fire. For me, it was the fact that when I joined Herban Movement, my standards were raised, both academically and spiritually. I was no longer drifting through life, now I have a purpose, and people behind me walking through life’s journey. I am proud of everything we have done in a year, and even prouder to say that I am leaving this company to great hands. Find something that will light that fire inside you, and when it grows, spread it to people around you any way you can, then leave a mark on this world.