Finding Myself

cake with fondant flowers and butterflies

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

Writing has become my safe haven…a place where I can emote and be completely honest by utilizing the words that I could never say aloud out of fear or anxiety. This is my fourth year working for OpenLab’s The Buzz. I am so honored to still have this platform…this opportunity…this venue to publicly talk to students by way of the internet. When I first started writing for The Buzz, my theme was anything food related. This would differ from food news, food innovations, new technology for food, new food machinery, or any interesting recipes. Being that my major as a student at City Tech was hospitality management and my area of focus was pastry arts, I was drawn to discuss any food topics because I wanted the fuel the City Tech society with a love for food that I had already developed.

a cake with gold shards of cookies

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

This semester is going to be a bit different, in terms of my theme for my future posts as I want to still discuss food but I want to allow my writing to be more raw, candid, and personal by way of my own struggles. I want my writing to mean something more than just informational; I want it to be relatable. I would love for my writing to speak to people, for my voice to be heard through unspoken words…to help others by my own personal journey through life. I figure that every college student is struggling in some way in their lives, and so I want my posts on The Buzz to reflect those issues, to allow students to not feel alone in their woes. My entire life was academics; I literally forgot what life was like before school had taken over it. I could not remember my life in simpler days without the hassle of classes, homework assignments, group projects, exams, quizzes, midterms, and finals. My life was encompassed by the academic world…I felt as if my worth as a person solely relied on final grades and grade point averages.

superhero themed cupcakes

Image by: Brianna Vasquez









Here I was, a new college graduate who had no idea what to do with her life now. I had no clue what my next step would be. I was so accustomed to attending school that I almost didn’t know how to be self-sufficient without it. It was heartbreaking and devastating. I had thought I knew all along what I wanted, but when I finished, I didn’t know what career to pursue. And honestly, I still don’t. So much has changed in my life during my collegiate years and I am finding it difficult to rekindle my focus onto my future, which includes my career. But, in the meantime, I have been trying to hone my skills in my love for pastry arts. I have made quite a few cakes and other desserts for a combination of friends or family members to become a better pastry chef. And it has allowed me to find my passion within this amazing career that I had somewhat lost after graduation. Each day, I am closer to finding myself…finding myself for a career role…finding myself without academics involved…finding myself as just a human being.

flower vase cake

Image by: Brianna Vasquez

Academic Self-Discovery: Careers in Psychology

Psychology is a science that studies the mind, behavior and focuses on a myriad of topics. Some include understanding certain aspects of life, treatment of psychological disorders and how experience/surroundings can affect individuals. Almost everything can be viewed through a psychological perspective. Things like the states of consciousness, social psychology, the different ways of learning and even the interpretation of dreams. It is for this reason that research and theories are tested.

During my time at City Tech I have taken three psychology classes. The first one was Introduction to Psychology which informed me of the background and theories of the field and made me aware of some concepts. The second, Child Psychology made me look deep in myself and past to identify what attachment style I had and how my upbringing influenced the person I am today. And finally, pyschology of Adolescence and Adulthood in which I did service learning to go out into my community and help those that were less fortunate.

If you happen to be someone intrested in biology, sociology, understanding the brain and behavior, a career in this field just might be the one for you. There’s an extensive list of psychology careers that people can choose from. Careers such as Military psychologist, Physical therapist and Child abuse counselors. Programs and degree paths are available so make sure to do some research on the ones that spark your curiosity.

Thank you for reading. How is your academic self-discovery going? What cool career paths have you found or intrested in? Feel free to let me know.

Introducing Mariah Rajah – A Story of Survival

a young woman in a tan coat

Photograph by Mariah Rajah

Our Stories: An Intimate Connections Series by Pamela Drake

Surviving college can be quite challenging, even more so when you’re all on your own. Mariah Rajah, a senior at City Tech in the Professional & Technical Writing Program and editor of the New Tech Times student newspaper, has proven herself to be an asset to City Tech. She has has accomplished many amazing things, but it hasn’t been easy for her. Because of her family circumstances, she was on her own at a very young age.  Having to financially provide and take care of herself has been difficult, but it has also given her a high level of maturity and personal growth.

1.     Where did you grow up and what is your background?

I was born in Guyana and moved to Barbados until I was about 10 years old. After that, I moved to New York. I come from a Muslim household, both of my parents are of West Indian decent but my mother is mixed with African.

2.     Describe yourself in one word? How does this word represent you?

I believe myself to be resilient. My life hasn’t been an easy one and many times I’ve had to be my own breadwinner and caretaker. Yet despite all the obstacles thrown at me, I have never once deterred from my hopes and dreams.

3.     What is still your biggest challenge or stumbling block(s) and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?

For me, my biggest challenge has been to believe in who I am and my abilities. The lack of confidence and my low self-esteem kept me at my lowest, but once I realized what I could do there was nothing or no one that could stop me.

4. How do you balance school, work, and family demands?

Balancing this has been no easy task. In my freshman year I completely isolated myself and focused just on school. Although the decision brought me good grades, I found myself caged in. So I decided to start scheduling hours for school and relaxation. I realized that once I stuck to the schedule, I got more work done and had more time for being young.

5.     What’s the best advice you ever received?

I believe the best advice I ever received was from a friend who told me nothing lasts forever. Whether it’s pain or success, life comes in tides and it’s best to enjoy the highs and learn from the lows.

6.     Who are your biggest influences? Who do you admire most? Who or what inspired you to do what you’re doing now?

I’ve found influence in so many people but I would have to say that my biggest influence would have to be Ms. Oprah Winfrey. Her work ethic and captivating speech have mesmerized me from a young age. She has been a driving force in my writing since I first read her story in the 6th grade. Her go-getter attitude and perseverance inspire me to this day.

7.     What tools or personality traits do you think is indispensable for accomplishing your goals?

I think out of all the traits, being thick skinned and reluctant are two things that are needed for achieving any goal. They will be many naysayers but if you believe in who you are and what you are doing there is nothing you cannot accomplish. Being reluctant means that you won’t take no for an answer and all it takes is for one person to say yes in order for you to accomplish a goal.

8. What’s next for you?

Over the past 4 years, I have been heavily affiliated with City Tech and various offices within the college and it has been a wonderful and fruitful experience. I have learned many things and had the opportunity to meet many people but now it’s time for me to take this experience outside. I’m ready to gain industry experience and find myself a place in a work-force which I believe I am ready to be a part of and learn from.

9. What do you want your legacy to be? How do you want to be remembered?

I’d like to be remembered for my willingness and perseverance if anything. College is no easy task and life took a sudden turn in the years since I began this journey but I never once gave up no matter how many times I said I would. I’d like to be remembered for this and maybe also for being valedictorian!

There will always be moments when you feel desperate in college. Perhaps you’re in a similar situation like Mariah and find yourself trying to cope on your own. Trying to achieve that perfect life at college is one that does not exist and while college is great, it is also exhausting. But there is no shame in asking for help. The first thing to do is to take advantage of the resources that are on campus. Most colleges have counseling services and you don’t have to face these issues alone. For example, you can get to know your professors and your academic advisor, join a club or school organization, get a mentor or make new friends who are genuine and authentic. The main thing is to connect with people who can provide moral support and encourage you through the tough times.  

Finally, as Mariah advised, make time for yourself. Its unrealistic to expect that you can study, go to class, work all day, and study without taking a break. Yes,it’s important to strive for good grades but college life is a mixture of social and academic. Finding the right balance is also important so be sure to set aside some time for activities that will help you relax and take away some of the stress.

Introducing Ryan Letts: Skills for a Civilian

the face of a young man

Introducing Ryan Letts: Skills for a Civilian

By Pamela Drake

Our Stories: An Intimate Connections Series

Have you ever wondered what to do with your life or how to achieve the things you want? The single most important thing to know is that you do have options. The military, for example, is a place where you can learn some very useful life skills. Of course, you can learn these skills elsewhere, but the military provides an option as a fast way to get them quickly and establish your goals.

Ryan Letts, an army veteran, took the skills he learned and successfully transitioned to become a business advisor at the Brooklyn Small Business Development Center at City Tech’s Chapel Street location.  Even though his primary duty is to provide business assistance to aspiring entrepreneurs, Ryan faithfully serves the veteran population in New York City and New Jersey by providing much-needed information and services to transitioning service members veterans and their families.

1. What is your biggest challenge or stumbling block(s) and what are the best ways you’ve found to overcome them?

My biggest challenge was attaining a proper education and finding the resources to pay for it. I went to the military to get assistance with paying for college.

2. Is this something you would recommend to others?

Overcoming our inner demons can be the greatest challenge we will face in our      lives. The military was helpful with challenging me to face my inner self. In the end, I was the better for having had such an experience.

3. What tools or personality traits do you think is indispensable for accomplishing your goals?

Having soft skills or emotional intelligence (that is the ability to empathize or understand someone’s emotions) is probably one of the most important tools you can have.

4. What would you have done differently if you knew then what you know now?

I would have sought more mentorship because I could have achieved a lot more.

5. What do you mean by more mentorship? How can someone find more             mentorship and how can mentorship help?

Mentorship is applicable for a wide range of uses such as finding the career, starting a business, building relationships etc.  Having someone with experience to help navigate a desired goal is helpful and often times not quantifiable.

6. What surprising lessons have you learned along the way?

That I shouldn’t take anything for granted and show appreciation to the people who help and support you.

Although Ryan is in the stage of completing his academic journey, he continues to use what he has learned to help others. Having learned how to challenge strength in adversity, he wants to be remembered for empowering the underprivileged.

Maybe you’ve been considering the army (or any other branch of the military) as an option. Whatever path you choose, just know that you do have choices, and the skills and education gained will last a lifetime.