Why SHA? I Was Lucky… and Stubborn


My stubborn nature is what led me to the hotel school.

It wasn’t until high school that this aspect of myself stood out in a way that could potentially affect my future beyond social interactions in the hallway. From sophomore to senior year, I had well-established myself in the school as the relatively quiet but ambitious girl who loved yearbook. I still remember the endless days and nights spent working on the book, as if every morning I woke up at 6:30 to get to the publication room in the corner of the 3rd floor hallway with a side-job as a normal student. Quite evidently, this was a large time commitment that made me, along with many others, question for what reason I was putting myself through what seemed like torture.

I was lucky, that’s why.

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity, at such an early age, to find something I loved doing so much. That thrill is a feeling I cannot describe in words, as it is a state of true happiness and accomplishment, even in the hardest moments. I loved soccer, I loved eating, I found AP Psychology intriguing, but yearbook was different. It was the first time I felt like what I had learned expanded my capacity to love and shape my identity. While the knowledge guided me, my ideas were still free to roam around.

But of course, as many things do, my time in yearbook soon came to an end as college came. I struggled initially to find a school and major of my fit. From my report card of the past 12 years to how much I dreaded or looked forward to each class, many signs directed me toward a career-path in communications and psychology. There was one tiny problem. I could not imagine myself dedicating the rest of my life to this. At first, I tried to brush this thought away, assuming it was just the immature side of myself not accepting the reality of the adult work-life. But I couldn’t and just the thought of it made me miserable.

One day I decided to go on a massive search through all the majors and schools I could potentially find. I remembered a friend’s older sister mentioning the hotel school so I typed in, “Cornell school of hotel major” in the Google search bar. As you can tell by the wording, SHA was very unfamiliar to me back then and I was a very creative child.

I was extremely doubtful at first because I had no interest in hotels and did not want to grant people their fortune-telling license by applying to the university that seemed like my obvious choice as the child of someone who previously attended Cornell. As someone who took great pride in her academics, the reactions I received when expressing my growing interest in SHA did not help either, as more often than I wished it was either met with “Ohhh… you want to work in a hotel? What is that?” or “I always thought you would go towards english and psychology or something!” Hotels, english, psychology – all are amazing, but they just don’t fit me. And of course, I was not going to let my stubborn nature go to waste, especially in a moment that mattered so much to me. Long story short, I stuck with my decision.

The more I researched the school, the more I fell in love with it and felt the need to become a student there. Now, fortunately, I can call it “here.” HEC? DDLS? Oh no, we have to revisit chemistry for Culinary? Disclaimer: I am taking Culinary right now and I love it. I browsed through the school website, looked through blatantly honest reviews on College Confidential and watched every YouTube video I could find related to SHA. I still do not know the level of credibility of all of these sources, but the compilation was enough to convince me. I may have a second chance at finding that thrill I associated with yearbook.

The beauty of SHA is about the flexibility of our path. Yes, there are general overlaps in interests such as finance and operations. But even within those groups every individual’s vision is different whether if that refers to the industry sector or the location he or she wishes to be in someday.

If I had given up on my search for that thrill in return for security and approval from those around me back in Seoul, perhaps I would be content. I have to admit that at times I do wonder what it would have been like to go for a more traditional major. But for me, stability comes from the stability of my mind, which cannot exist without the thrill. And therefore, now that I have written this post, I will continue finding the maximum potential of my current thrill.

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© 2020 by Nicholas Lu, Moira Yi, Jacqueline Chen & AJ Mackey

Sponsored in part by SAFC

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