BY IMANI HOLLOMAN, STAFF WRITER
STUDENT: Sonsere Christian
ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH ANY ORGANIZATIONS ON CAMPUS?
No, unfortunately, I am not. I would love to be involved, but since I am an off-campus student, it is very hard for me to make it to campus unless I am going to class.
WHAT DO YOU STUDY AT MASON? WHAT IS YOUR DESIRED CAREER PATH?
My major is information systems and operations management. My desired career path is to become a business analyst manager.
I KNOW THAT YOU ARE A MANAGER AT A RESTAURANT. DO YOU MIND DESCRIBING YOUR MANAGEMENT STYLE?
My style of management is a mix of coaching and an authoritative style. With new employees, I train them hands-on by showing them how to properly complete tasks and correct them when they make mistakes. I also use a more authoritative style approach when I have to show tough love in a way, so when they are doing a task wrong or inefficiently, they become aware of it and correct it.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR JOB RESPONSIBILITIES AS A MANAGER?
My responsibilities include making sure the customers feel welcomed and are satisfied before leaving, making sure the front of the house and the kitchen are clean, making sure we have everything ready to go and stocked before the beginning of the shift, ensuring that there is a maintained level of excellence and to help out anywhere that’s needed.
GOING TO SCHOOL AND HAVING A FULL-TIME JOB MUST BE STRESSFUL. HOW DO YOU BALANCE BOTH?
It is very stressful, but it is doable. It requires a lot of time management, preparation, planning and sacrifice. For example, before I leave the house in the morning, I have to make sure I have my book bag, a packed lunch and my work uniform because I go to work right after class. Usually when I get home from work, I have to dive straight into my schoolwork to work on homework, projects and I have to study for upcoming tests and quizzes.
IS IT HARD DEALING WITH CONFLICT WHILE WORKING AT A FAST FOOD RESTAURANT? IF SO, HOW DO YOU MANAGE?
Yes, it is extremely difficult to have to deal with irate customers, especially when they are hungry. I manage the conflict by trying to calm down the customer, then allowing them to explain their issue. It is very important for people to understand that they are being heard. Then, I breakdown the problem and figure out multiple ways to resolve or makeup for it and present it to the customer and let them choose what they’d prefer.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The thing that I enjoy most about my job is the fast-paced working environment, seeing customers happy and the amazing employee discounts.
IF YOU COULD MEET ANY CELEBRITY, WHO WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
If I could meet a celebrity, I would love to meet Beyoncé. I admire her hard work and business ethics, her stellar fashion sense, the way that she is super organized, and also how she is a healthy person.
ALUMNI: Felicia Baez
SO WHILE YOU WERE AN UNDERGRADUATE HERE AT MASON, WHAT DID YOU STUDY AND WHAT ORGANIZATIONS WERE YOU APART OF?
So when I was here in undergrad, I studied integrative studies with a concentration in international studies. I had a minor in women and gender studies. And then organization wise, I was a part of Chase Dreams Not Boys, and then my junior year, I joined a sorority—Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.
NOW THAT YOU ARE A GRADUATE STUDENT HERE AT MASON. WHAT DO YOU STUDY? IS IT DIFFERENT FROM YOUR UNDERGRADUATE DEGREE?
Yes, so like I said, so my concentration [was] international studies for undergrad and now I’m currently pursuing my master’s in public health with a concentration in global health. So I like to say they kind of intertwine the international studies and global health part. I wasn’t a health major, but being part of SSAC’s peer health educator program I think inspired me to pursue public health.
DO YOU MIND EXPLAINING YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE WOMEN AND GENDER STUDIES DEPARTMENT ON-CAMPUS?
My first year as a grad, I was a grad assistant for LGBTQ resources, and that basically we worked very closely with the Women and Gender studies office. And so my second year, I was offered a graduate assistantship with them, and I took that one just to do something different, and I felt like what I did and what I cared about was more aligned with Women and Gender Studies.
So essentially, I’m here three days a week. I help with the space of the office. We’ve got students who come in and just chill, but then we’ve also got students who come in and use our library. … I’ve helped facilitate course presentations, which are going on now. So every single semester we go to the classes that we offer, like Women and Gender Studies 100 and 200, to talk about courses that are offered the following semester—basically to recruit and get people excited about the classes that we’re taking.
Another part of my role at Women and Gender Studies includes programming, so we have annual events that go on each year. Fall semester there’s usually a heavy focus on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so we’ve done things like Take Back the Night, Chapter Next [and] the Clothesline Project. We collaborate a lot with Student Support and Advocacy Center and the LEAD office on that. Then spring semester it’s all about Women’s History Month, which is in March. … The last part of Women and Gender Studies that I’ve done is that we received a grant to work on a gender-based violence studies “thing.” I don’t want to say minor because I think we’re actually going to do a certificate, but I’ve been helping with the development and research of that. And in April, we’re actually going to be bringing in some community partners here for a luncheon to talk a little bit about what that’ll look like, so we’re still in the works. We did the proposal and helped bring people together, but we’re looking at shelters—domestic violence shelters, organizations that are passionate about gender based violence, domestic violence, sexual assault and all that. So yeah, it’s a lot, but it’s fun.
STUDENT: Mira Martin
WHAT’S YOUR MAJOR AND WHAT ARE YOU INVOLVED WITH ON CAMPUS?
I’m an environmental and sustainable studies major with a concentration in business and a minor in psychology. I’m a part of ALD, which is an honors fraternity for the College of Science. I am also a part of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, which is an honors organization. I’m also a part of Active Mind, and yeah I think that that’s kind of the main stuff.
I’VE SEEN ON INSTAGRAM YOU’RE PART OF MODELING AND PHOTOGRAPHY, DO YOU MIND TELLING ME WHEN AND HOW YOU GOT INVOLVED?
So, it actually started from a National Society of Collegiate Scholars fashion show on campus called the “proFRESHionals fashion show,” and my friend Ashley Koranteng kind of organized this event. And I figured well if I’m walking in this runway show, I might as well get an Instagram, because I didn’t actually even have an Instagram before I walked in that show. I was like, ‘Well I want somewhere to post these pictures after I walk.’
So, when I started my Instagram … I started doing photoshoots. So, I started a lot with Mason students. One of my friends … me and him did a couple of shoots. And I also kind of did some makeshift ones where I got my friends to take pictures of me with a concept in mind.
So, I kind of started out of nowhere. I didn’t really see it coming, but I realized it started taking up a lot of my time, so I quit my part-time job and devoted a lot of time and attention to building my repertoire as a model. … That kind of took a lull over the summer, and then when I came back, I met a designer while I was doing my first show and she kind of became a mentor for me. So, during this fall she asked me to come up and be part of the D.C. Fashion Incubator at the Macy’s off the Metro stop and model something for her there. And I was like, ‘Wow, I really miss this, I want to get back into this.’ And I kind of started snowballing again, and I’ve been doing tons of work every week.
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST PHOTOSHOOT LIKE? WERE YOU NERVOUS?
I think that photoshoots have never really been scary for me. Runway shows were definitely the bigger hurdle to jump, just because there’s so much more that goes into a runway show. So, I would say my first runway show I felt really prepared for, so I wasn’t very nervous, and my first photoshoot I wasn’t very nervous either. That’s kind of why I realized that it was something I was passionate about and something that I was good at because I was like, ‘Well, if I’m not really getting nervous about this and I’m just kind of getting excited, this is definitely something that is good for me.’
My main thing about that is that I have three rules when I do photoshoots. One, is that I always make sure that there’s mutual credit. So, if I do a photoshoot, I make sure that if you’re going to post me, you’re going to tag me and I have to tag you.
My other one is that if I want to bring somebody, I can. Because if I want to do that for safety reasons, I’m not going to shoot with somebody who tells me I can’t bring somebody for safety. My third is if I’m uncomfortable during any point of the shoot, I’m allowed to leave. And I tell all my photographers that … I work … with because it’s important that I feel safe.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST STRENGTH AND WEAKNESS AS A MODEL AND HOW WILL YOU IMPROVE YOUR WEAKNESS?
I would say that one of my greatest strengths is probably that I am very hardworking … I always go above and beyond when it comes to gigs … And I kind of am the mama of the models usually, and I usually have the chapstick and the hairspray and whatever. Honestly, designers and stylists especially really notice that, and it really makes them want to work with me again [because] I’m so prepared … I think honestly my big weakness right now, is just having to water down my modeling career because I still am a full-time student. So, when people want to work with me sometimes I have to turn them down ‘cause I have class or I have an exam, and obviously that makes me more or less a little less desirable because I am less available. But I think obviously the way I work on that weakness is just by finding time, pockets, that I do have available and making sure that I’m using them to the fullest, which is usually what I do.
WHAT ARE YOUR PERSONAL GOALS WITH MODELING?
If I could pick, I would only really do runway, but I am on the cutoff for height requirements for runway, so some people would want me and some people wouldn’t. But I know that I’ll probably have to do photo as well. But I think that one of the things I really gained from modeling … is that I have gotten less concerned about what people think of me. I think a lot of people go the opposite direction, because they get so consumed with, ‘How do I get this many likes?,’ or ‘How do I get this many followers?’
One thing I really realized is that my goal with modeling is no longer, if it was at any point, to get a social following or for people to care. It’s because I love it and because I’m passionate about it. I think that a lot of times when aspiring models start out, it’s really to feel more confident in their own right. And for me, it’s just not that—it’s just really a career that I like. I really enjoy doing it. I think I’m good at it, and I definitely work my butt off to be good at it in a way that other people think is, comes off as casual almost.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR UPCOMING ASPIRING MODELS?
Maybe this is cynical, but my first tip is, if you don’t absolutely love it, don’t do it. Because it doesn’t matter how pretty you are, it doesn’t matter how tall you are, it doesn’t matter how curvy you are, it doesn’t matter how thin you are. If you do not have a passion for modeling, you can’t do it. … It’s just so so much more work than that. You have to be ready to drive two and three hours to an event—fashion shows … I’m there all day, and you have to be willing to let other people do your hair and makeup and maybe wear things that you wouldn’t put yourself in. Step out your comfort zone in a lot of ways that some people just aren’t ready to do. So, to those people who are modeling just because they’re attractive, maybe have more of an interest in being a social media influencer. … But my piece of advice to people who are really passionate about the idea of being on a runway and getting into print would just be [to] be prepared always. For the plans to change, for you to end up in a city you don’t know, not sure where to park your car, be ready to have extra money because you don’t know if you need to pay for it, be ready to have food with you if you’re stuck somewhere all day and starving, bring water, bring makeup always, bring like every pair of shoes you own that’s over four inches heels. … If you act like you’re hardworking and talented, people will notice that. But if you act like you’re mean because you think that that makes you seem like a pro, you’re wrong. People in the industry are so exhausted with those types of models.
WHAT IS YOUR INSTAGRAM ACCOUNT SO THAT MASON STUDENTS CAN FOLLOW YOUR MODELING CAREER?
My Instagram account is @miramartin4.