We caught up with SC Alumni Drew Kohl '12 to discuss her college experience at NYU, her life in the Big Apple, and the adventure of starting her own business.
Tell us about your experience at NYU, a city college whose campus. What were the advantages and drawbacks for you? How is life in the big city different from life in the SFV?
You’re definitely forced to become more independent in a place like New York City, whether or not you attend NYU. I think it was the best possible situation for me as I really hadn’t done much on my own yet and had been in Sierra’s small community for 14 years (which I loved). I ended up traveling through Italy by myself for 2 weeks because felt that comfortable being independent. At NYU you have to make your own community which enabled me to branch out, and even when I no longer played volleyball, being in a big city afforded me the opportunity to chase other passions much more readily. I think at NYU more than any other college students are expected to actively ready themselves for the workforce, so I, along with most other NYU students, had jobs and internships not only during summer break, but through the school year as well. This really helps prepare you for life after college, but you then also get to test out different potential job positions early on rather than waiting until after graduation.
As far as comparing NYC to the SFV, they really are complete opposites. I love the subway in NYC; it’s so efficient and convenient and everything the city offers is so accessible. And unfortunately you do get used to subway rats…. My least favorite thing about NYC is the smell in the summer, so I love to go home to LA and just relax outside. Although it’s a bit of an adjustment realizing that restaurants aren’t open all day, so I can’t get lunch at 3pm...But nothing can beat the weather in LA. Whenever it’s snowing in NYC, 9 times out of 10 it’s warm and sunny in LA. And of course, the SFV is home, and I do plan to move back eventually.
You were an important member of SC’s athletic community. What advice would you give to SC current female athletes?
I really miss playing team sports. Most of my friends now are from the athletic community both at SC and NYU. The built in family is amazing and that was definitely helpful while playing at NYU. I would say to always hold yourself accountable for your role on a team and never become complacent. There’s always something that you can do to improve. Also just be a reliable teammate. Even on a bad day there’s something to be said for someone that always shows up. And that same mentality will get your far in the workplace as well.
What are your reflections on your SC school experience? Do you feel it prepared you for university life and life in the “real world?” Did any SC experiences, classes and/or teachers impact you greatly?
I loved going to Sierra and being a lifer. I always feel so fortunate that I grew up in such a diverse and socially conscious environment. There’s so many different people in the world and Sierra, and my parents of course, really taught me to be accepting and open minded. Academics wise, I never felt behind the curve at NYU. A lot of things I felt others struggled with seemed to come more fluidly because of how well I was prepared at Sierra.
Tell us about your career choice. How is it going and where would you like to be in 10 years?
I always knew that I wanted to be involved in food in some way, but wasn’t sure what exactly that would be. So in college I had many jobs and internships in all different disciplines in the food industry.
I have a cookie dough company called Sweet Dough. It’s actually something that I started with my mom in between sophomore and junior years of college. After that I when back to school junior year with that plan to re-launch the business after graduation in NYC. I launched Sweet Dough last December, and I am currently going through a bit of a change. I’m rebranding, and planning to scale up and streamline very quickly. I’m also considering adding a partner and thinking about fundraising in the near future. Ten years is pretty far away, but I hope to be nationally distributed and of course profitable. I think a good measure of success in the food industry would be to be bought out by a bigger company.
Do you keep in touch with SC classmates? Is that important for you?
I have a few close friends that I keep in touch with. I was never the person who had 100 best friends. I like keeping a few very genuine friends in my life, and then love the opportunity to catch up with anyone I haven’t seen in awhile either when I go home or they happen to be in NYC. I actually saw someone who went to Sierra in Brooklyn a few months ago, but who was a few years younger than me, and we had never really spoken, but it was great to see a familiar face and catch up anyways.
Please feel free to add any other appropriate reflections and/or comments, especially those that might help current SC students.
It’s OK to not know exactly where you want to be in life, what you want to study, or where you want to go to college. I struggled a bit thinking that I was the odd man out and that everyone knew exactly what they wanted out of their college experience. I think the best advice I could give is something that I’ve learned in starting my own business. Make everything as perfect as you can without stressing over insignificant details, and when something needs to change it doesn’t mean that where you were previously was a failure. It just means that you’re evolving and improving.