Alumni from the Children’s Aid College Prep Charter School (CACPCS) gathered on Nov. 4 to learn from a panel of successful entrepreneurs about how to excel in college, career, and beyond.
The alumni, who are now in high school, gained insight into the college admissions process, the keys to college success, and how the panelists started their careers.
The panel included Migna Taveras, executive director of Schools That Can; Arion Peterson, founder of Muted Beauty Co.; Vic Martinez, founder of Bar Solutions; and Juan Martinez, regional manager for a consulting company.
Arion, who graduated from Howard University and is studying advertising at Columbia University, spoke about how going to a Historically Black University had a positive impact on her education.
“College was one of the best decisions I made,” she said. “College helps you in the classroom, of course, but there is also so much you learn about yourself in general. I felt comfortable there. I wasn’t able to be in a space where I was a majority most of them time. This is a chance where I could be my authentic self.”
Last year, Arion founded a cosmetics company called Muted Beauty Co. The things she learned in the classroom – how to reach her target audience through advertising – allowed her to leverage social media to build her brand.
Vic Martinez started his career after high school when he became a carpenter. He realized that, to move up the corporate ladder, college was essential. At 28, he went back to school to earn an associate degree in construction management from the New York Technical College of Brooklyn. Soon after, he enrolled at Cooper Union to study Civil Engineering.
Now, he co-owns a successful construction company with his wife, where he helps build up the New York City skyline. The connections he made in college were invaluable to starting his business. Professors at Cooper Union guided him through the process, and the knowledge he learned inside the classroom still translates to his work today.
“I built up a lot of relationships with people I still work with today,” he said. “From the dean to the professors that have been some of my mentors – I still have a connection with them.”
Migna, who graduated with a degree in political science and sociology at Barnard College, encouraged students to find innovative ways to pay for their degrees. She explained how becoming a Resident Advisor for her college dorm and applying for scholarships eased her financial burden.
Juan Martinez attended Baruch College, a school within the City University of New York system that was recently ranked the college with the best value in the country by The Wall Street Journal. By attending Baruch, Juan was able to avoid taking out costly loans and still received a valuable education in international marketing.
In addition to the panel, students attended breakout sessions on financial literacy, finding a career path, goal setting, and stress management.
Abou Sangare, a high school freshman who graduated from CACPCS last year, attended the event to reconnect with alumni and gain insights into successful entrepreneurship and college life.
Abou enjoys designing clothing and hopes to have his own clothing and shoe line after becoming a professional basketball player. He wants his designs to reflect his interest in outer space. After attending the event, he learned that meticulous planning is the key to realizing his dreams.
“I learned that to start a business you need multiple components, and when you’re in college you need to plan everything out to have a stable life,” he said.