A little over a month ago, Voyage Phoenix Magazine reached out because of a very colorful instagram post of mine they had found. They had asked to feature the photo along with a short response to their question of the month.
Shortly after posting my response, they reached out and asked if I would like to write a feature, and of course I obliged. I believe in creating a community, and what better way than to collaborate with other like-minded individuals?
You can find the original post HERE, but I also felt like sharing on my own blog, where I know the content can always be found!
Voyage Phoenix Trailblazer Interview
Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today. You can include as little or as much detail as you’d like.
My path has been a very unpredictable one to say the least. I was determined to be a doctor ever since I was thirteen and checked all the boxes to lead myself down that road. I graduated with honors from Arizona State University in 2013 with my B.S. in Life Sciences and during my four years I had made sure to do everything right for a pre-med student, from volunteering in clinics to performing research in a Biochemical Microbiology lab for two years! However, I was paying my way through college by working at Bath and Body Works and had earned my keys by the time I was 19!
When I was twenty-two, I would say that life was going exactly as planned. I had finished applications to 9 medical schools, had a high interview rate of 4, and was accepted into a top medical school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. There, I struggled – I failed two courses in my second year, forcing me to repeat those across a third year. And then, time came for my first Medical Licensing Exam. I wish I could say it went well, but life happens and I failed my licensing exam by a single point and was forced to withdraw from the program. I speak about this further in a recent blog post, if anyone is compelled to uncover more of my story.
Even though I had lived in Philadelphia for three years, I hardly knew the area – or the people – around it and decided to use this opportunity to apply for jobs to stay and experience the area. Luckily, I was able to kick-start my career back in retail with Bath & Body Works as an Assistant Manager.
I lived and loved in Philadelphia for almost a year until I was ready to come home and face my family and friends. I was uncertain the responses I would receive on not continuing down any path in the medical field, and I felt like a failure even though I was constantly optimistic on my journey.
Luckily, my job at Bath & Body Works allowed me to transfer back home – to be with my family and be there before my first niece was born! Fast forward to two years later, and I’ve been flourishing in my career in retail management – and I love it. I am currently a manager for a luxury retail brand and I get to start planning my own family, which is something a lot of my peers who did complete their M.D. have not been able to do.
This past Spring, I decided to pick up my laptop (and camera) to start up my blog, Curated by Cherish. I once had a fairly successful blog while I was attending medical school, but I let it fade out after I chose to end my career in medicine. Curated by Cherish is most certainly a lifestyle blog, as I navigate my way through my late twenties and beyond, and my message is a simple one: you are the one curating your own life. I think this is important, since I am constantly picking up different hobbies and interests and documenting the process allows me to do this and hopefully inspire others.
Has it been a smooth road? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way? Any advice for other women, particularly young women who are just starting their journey?
I am very transparent in the fact that I suffer from General Anxiety Disorder; from tweeting about it to writing about self-care on my blog. I used to have extreme panic attacks while I was studying medicine; it would get to the point where I would be staring into a book and start crying because I felt so overwhelmed and that I would never overcome the insurmountable volume of material.
I did seek professional help and I was able to learn a lot on how to help control my thoughts and feelings, so my anxiety could not hold the power to affect the actions I take within my life. There are some days I need to prelude a day with, “Hey, I’m not feeling 100% today, but I will be okay.” And I think it is very important to recognize those feelings without giving them power.
Many women may feel like they have a lot to overcome, but it’s important to remind theirselves that they are in charge of curating their own destiny.
My advice is to take steps towards the life you want to lead and do not compare yourself to others, because your journey is unique. I myself have certain goals I want to hit by the time I am 30 and 35 and while it may seem like I am slow-going compared to others, I know that I am pacing myself in a way that will promote my mental health and happiness – and that is all that matters to me.
We’d love to learn more about your work. What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of as a brand, organization or service provider? What sets you apart from others?
As I stated earlier, I am currently a retail manager who runs her own blog. If I had to say I specialized in anything, it would be in intrapersonal communication. This is an all-encompassing skill; I use it at work every day when I give feedback and coach my associates or when I create connections to elevate a sale. I also use intrapersonal communication every time I log in to an app or begin writing a new post for my blog.
Connecting with people is my passion – and I hope to share and learn others’ stories, every day. I think this is precisely why I was so excited to connect with Phoenix Voyage!
I’m going to be real with you – upon creating “Curated by Cherish”, I did start to share my personal brand with others. Where that will take me, I haven’t quite figured out yet, and that’s alright. It’s simply important to follow your passions and do what makes you happy, even if it doesn’t make sense to everyone else. Trust me, I would know, after throwing out an education in biology to actively pursue business management.
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
I am a big proponent of doing work that you are proud of. By this, I mean to work hard and craft your excellence so that you can out-shine the competition. I honestly do not think too much about the dichotomy between women and men in the workforce, but I do know that there are still barriers to overcome.
However, very recently I was reminded that there will always be a particular barrier for women of my age – and that is family planning. For example, I was recently asked to discuss more opportunities in becoming a store manager for another luxury company. I let the recruiter know that I was open to discuss this opportunity, even though it would mean a further commute. However, upon doing my research, I saw that this brand only had twenty stores in the country, and this could be a problem for me.
Why? If I were to get pregnant and ask for leave, I would not be protected under the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), as it only covers employees in companies that have a minimum of 50 employees in a 75-mile radius. I cannot imagine this being as large of an issue for our male counterparts, but I am glad I keep well-versed in policies to protect myself.
In this regard, I would say do your due diligence and get to know your field. Give yourself the time to understand policies and do what feels right for you. If you do not feel that what you are doing aligns with your values, find the field of work that does. This ties back to crafting your excellence – continue to learn and grow so that you can expand your opportunities. And when something amazing calls to you, take the chance.
As I’ve said in a previous interview with Voyage Phoenix, everything happens for a reason, and you are the curator of your own destiny.