By: Ambika Narula
Fatemeh Paryavi has been through a few changes throughout her life.
However, regardless of these changes, MoCo will always be her home. Born in Rockville, she lived there for 5 years before moving to Iran for a year and then Dubai before returning home to MoCo, in Rockville at the age of 13.
“I’ve lived here for a long time since the eight-year gap; however, I don’t think much has changed. New buildings are built, and roads are fixed up. MoCo’s still the same; it’s so diverse. Culturally, scenery wise, city wise. It’s really got it all,” Paryavi said.
While living in Dubai, Paryavi had the opportunity to experience homeschooling. After finishing up elementary school (Dubai), my parents decided that homeschooling would allow me to get an education with the benefit of time. It allowed me to learn so many other skills aside from school necessities, and it also allowed me to take more courses and finish school in a shorter period of time.
“After homeschooling, my family and I moved back to MoCo, and I went to high school here– at Churchill. There was a shock, since it had been three years since I had gone to a public school, and it took me a while to adjust; however, my time in high school ended up being pretty good. From there, I attended two years at the community college (MC) before attending the University of Maryland, College Park,” Paryavi said.
At UMD, Paryavi is currently majoring in Multi-platform Journalism with a minor in Computer Science.
“I’ve always loved writing and researching, and considering the fact so much of our time is being spent with technology by the day. My dream job is becoming a lawyer. And I do intend on becoming one in the future, however, for the moment, I really enjoy journalism, and I want to pursue a career in this field,” Paryavi said.
Fatemeh Paryavi is a passionate young student with big dreams and goals, she is recommends homeschooling to students and is open to staying in MoCo in the future.
By Ambika Narula
As a child, Anthony Nguyen (born in Silver Spring – current resident of Germantown) never thought he would work in the field of higher education.
However, the opportunity managed to find it's way into his life as he is currently working as a staff member at Montgomery College (Rockville) Writing, Reading, and Language Center, where he works closely with students and faculty on a daily basis.
“When I was in elementary school, the teacher asked us what we wanted to be or do when we grew up. I remember not wanting to be a teacher or be in an educational setting. I simply couldn’t imagine being in school for longer hours than the students. Instead, I imagined being an astronaut, an air force pilot, a firefighter, or something that was considered “cool.” Fast forward to the present, and here I am. Now, I feel like I am able to utilize my unique experiences growing up to share with and empower others. I've been in higher education ever since I graduated high school (Northwest HS). Not only as a student, but as a student employee, and eventually, a staff member. Serving others, especially students, is one of the things I've become passionate about. Outside of that, I've also been a 3rd-grade teacher for a non-profit in Washington D.C. and an assistant high school football coach in the county (Blair HS),” Nguyen said.
Interestingly, Nguyen's dream is to, “travel the world to meet all different kinds of people, educate and empower others, try new foods, and visit all the touristy spots, as well as unique locations not seen by many. Nguyen also added, "Overall, I'm passionate about developing people. I've been able to do that through teaching and coaching and would like to continue to explore avenues to do that in more significant ways. I feel that starting an organization or entrepreneurship is also something I can see myself venturing into, in the future."
As a Vietnamese—American, Nguyen believes that based on the diversity that MoCo offers, Vietnamese immigrants would enter a welcoming community.
“I feel that Montgomery County is very diverse and central to everything. I would definitely recommend Vietnamese and others of different backgrounds to settle within the county. There are various Vietnamese restaurants sprinkled throughout the county and also organizations within the Vietnamese community that host events throughout the year. One of the staple events is the annual Lunar New Year Festival, known as Tết or Vietnamese New Year, which is the most important celebration in Vietnamese culture. For the last several years, it has been hosted at Northwood High School,” Nguyen said.
Anthony Nguyen offered some advice to those struggling to find their passion, “Though I am still exploring and expanding my passions, I've been fortunate to taste some of the things that I love. I think it is one of the most fulfilling feelings to be able to do something you love, while positively contributing to individuals and the community around you. For those who don't know what their passions are yet, find a variety of ways to involve in activities, events, or organizations that you are interested in. While doing so, eventually something will click, discovering your love. Once that is realized, then find ways to make a positive impact and share that with others. That's the greatest way to live” Nguyen said.
By Ambika Narula
At 12 years old, Katie Seager’s (Germantown resident) life changed when she received her first camera taking pictures of whatever she can, such as trash cans. Falling passionately in love with photography, Seager decided to pursue her passion as a professional hobby while at the mere age of 16 while as a student at Clarksburg High school.
“My sophomore year in high school, I took a shot at trying to make money with the thing I loved most. I charged a whopping $10/hour for family portrait sessions. I am now 20 years old and am so humbled to say I haven’t stopped, and my business has been so blessed,” Seager said.
At the beginning of her business, Seager had run into a roadblock of her business license, but she refused to let that get in the way.
“I don’t think many people were interested in a 16-year-old shooting their wedding. It turned out that was not legally liable to have a licensed business in Maryland at 16, but I did not accept that. I had my dad sign as if he owned the business until my 18th birthday. In the past 4 years, I have had the chance to meet some incredible entrepreneurs, young business owners, and photographers that have coached me along the way, with all the good, bad, and ugly,” Seager said.
In the last few years since starting her business, Seager’s favorite part of the job is, “being different. I value the experience I have with those I work with. I try my hardest for “the process” of booking and scheduling with me to not be “business-y.” I hate that. I see value in every person I photograph, and I am not here to make money, I do this because I am called,” Seager said.
Seager’s photography consists of doing, almost any type of portrait, couples, weddings, families, and seniors.
Katie Seager is a proud MoCo resident and is proud to be a professional photographer and able to achieve the success of her business.
“I know this job is not my forever. However, I am so grateful for what it has become. Looking back as I was 12, I could have never imagined this is where I would be now. I know who holds the future of my business, and for that, I am grateful,” Seager said.
By Ambika Narula
“I’m not a huge radio star like I dreamed about as a kid, but I’m working in radio and have for many years… I’m able to pay the bills at least a little bit and still do something I love,” Solomon said.
At a young age, Steve Solomon dreamt about becoming a radio personality and has achieved that dream as a professional radio host of seventeen years; working under the same station and boss, who believed in him when Solomon first started out in radio at twenty-four.
“I think I been doing okay in radio…I like what I am doing, and I work with good people. I like them, and I think they like me. We have fun,” Solomon said.
Solomon is a lifelong Montgomery County resident and has lived in such as places as Four corners – where he was born, Wheaton, Bethesda and Silver Spring – where he currently resides.
“I lived in the same ten-mile radius my entire life. It’s nice, I have seen a lot of different neighborhoods and worked in various areas. You could spend your whole life in MoCo tryingto eat in every restaurant and not succeed. I love it here, which is why I stayed,” Solomon chuckled.
This past summer, Solomon decided to run for county council as one of the thirty – three democratic candidates.
“It [local politics] really interested me, and I didn’t know much about it, and I saw how much good they [politicians] do for the county and how much influence and power they could have to change things. Do good for the people. I thought if I ever made a little name for myself in radio, I’ll try to add that into my life. So, I tried, and it was very interesting and eye-opening. I learned a lot about various parts of local government and about the county and met a lot of wonderful people. It was a cool experience, that most people don’t choose to do,” Solomon said.
Steve Solomon hopes to continue his life in MoCo and to work as a radio host and producer. As a proud lifelong Moco resident and previous candidate for county council, Solomon offered some advice for anyone hoping to achieve their dreams.
“Whatever you’re interested in, just make sure you work hard at it. Find different avenues or ways to do it and get someone’s attention and how someone that you are able to do it,” Solomon said.
By: Ambika Narula
Fresh out of the military, an eighteen-year-old Hunter White decided that it was the time that he needed to retake control of his life, get a college education and chase a new dream.
Since his time at Seneca Valley High school, He had dreamt of being in the Military and continuing his family’s dedication in service; until White found out that he had to be medically discharged due to his back, scoliosis and occulta spina bifida.
Dreams crushed, White returned home to Montgomery County and decided to take the next step of enrolling into Montgomery College and getting a local retail job, just as many other college students do.
As of now, White has been working in retail and in the fast food industry in MoCo for about four years.
“Working these jobs has definitely taught me people skills that are invaluable in any profession. I absolutely recommend these kinds of jobs for those people skills and for the fact that you definitely grow a thicker skin. Not everyone is going to be a candy-coated sugar plum in life,” said White.
Despite working in retail and fast food all these years while maintaining his college education as a Communication Major, White discovered his newfound dream.
“My dream job is to work on the social media and broadcasting teams at Rooster Teeth based in Austin, Texas. They’re an online video and media company that have multiple large-scale productions including podcasting and feature-length films,” said White.
With big dreams and an upbeat attitude, White offered some thoughtful advice for those in a similar situation as he is:
“Just keep your chin up honestly. Life is difficult and throws you curveballs. Just brace for it with a positive attitude, and you’ll get through it all,” said White.
By Ambika Narula
At the mere age of eight, Bhavna Naik née Mahbubani fell passionately in love with the art of Mehndi (Henna) but never gave it the thought of pursuing it as a career. At twenty-three, she married her childhood sweetheart and left her hometown of Mumbai for a new life in Montgomery County (Gaithersburg, Germantown, and Clarksburg) when her husband received a job offer.
Before starting her Henna Business in MoCo, Naik had worked in an Indian catering business, a manager in a doctor’s office and started her own silver jewelry business which was shut down due to the recession. No matter how much Naik loved these jobs, she was most happy doing what she loved: being a henna artist.
It wasn’t until six years ago; Naik made a leap of faith in starting her own Henna business in Clarksburg, believing that Montgomery County will be good for entrepreneurs, with MoCo’s rich diversity, people are more open to trying different things from other cultures, said Naik.
“When my husband’s friend asked me, what is the one thing you would do and never regret I blurted henna without a second thought…that’s when my husband supported me and asked me to start my very own henna business,” said Naik.
With the help of word of mouth and an article by the Washington Post, Naik’s Henna artist business flourished into success.
“I do all occasions Bat-mitzvahs, Birthdays, Ladies Nights, Brides, Grooms Family, Sangeets, Baby Showers, Bridal Showers, Belly Blessings and Henna crowns for cancer patients and some private appointments,” said Naik.
As Henna artist, mother and beloved family member. Juggling life for Naik can be hard.
“This is a difficult thing to do, on some days you are just an artist and some days you are a parent or a wife. No human can truly do justice to all their roles in society every day. My family understands the needs of my profession and have adjusted to my crazy schedules,” said Naik.
However, despite juggling her life, Naik loves her profession as an artist, and her work has brought positive energy into many of her client’s lives.
“My favorite part of my job is to be able to bring joy, happiness, and good juju to so many people and connecting with them, at an artistic and almost spiritual level. As a henna artist, I feel at peace and always in a trancelike spiritual place. I also feel blessed that I get to be part of everyone’s happiest moments in life,” said Naik.
While Naik’s business had flourished these last few years, Naik offered some advice for those interested in pursuing the art of henna. “The best advice for newbies in henna is that, it is a journey and practice makes progress, never feel disappointed with your own work when you see another accomplished artist, it just means that they have been on this journey longer and given many hours of practice to get better and you will get there eventually. I feel I still have a long way to go as an artist too,” said Naik.
Check out Bhavna’s Henna & Arts on her website or on Instagram!
By Ambika Narula
In recent years, Montgomery County has gone through some changes. New roads, communities, and companies have become added features to the county we love. However, regardless of the new changes, the county remains a special place in many resident’s hearts.
Shanila Raghubir, born in Takoma Park had experienced her life in Moco in different places such as Silver Spring, Wheaton, Burtonsville (Paint Branch High school), and Layhill. As a resident, she is grateful to experience the diversity that county offers.
“My favorite part of Moco is the diversity – the fact that we are right in the middle of DC and Baltimore, you can choose where you want to go. It’s a small area, everyone knows everyone, or you will find someone that has mutual friends,” she said.
Throughout her life, Raghubir has challenged herself to advance in her career and learning opportunities. At the moment, Raghubir works as a “cold hire” as a legal assistant at Anderson & Quinn-Litigation law firm.
However, before her time at the firm she worked in administration at several hospitals over the span of 10 years. Her line of worked included taking people’s insurances, payments, looking at eligibility, benefits, etc.
“I learned a lot about stuff, I didn’t know what happened on the “back end,” and how difficult insurance companies are,” she said.
As a legal assistant, Raghubir can use her knowledge about insurance companies when it comes to appeals, regulations, and laws. Raghubir expressed a passion for legal assistance, “It’s different every day,” she exclaimed excitedly.
Raghubir parents came to Moco as immigrants and struggled. As a result, they have come become the most influential people in their daughter’s life.
“The fact that they survived so well and established themselves a little bit in America, says a lot,” said Raghubir.
Shanila Raghubir is a proud Moco resident and is grateful for its opportunities. “Even if I ever have to move, to another county or even another state. Moco will always be my home,” she said.
by Ambika Narula
Unable to impress girls at the age of 12, Oscar Quintanilla refused to quit the guitar. Today, he has written over 50 songs and dreams of becoming a pop star. Quintanilla not only plays guitar but also bass, piano, and mixes music. A second-year student at Montgomery College, Quintanilla is pursuing a business degree and has a passion for music making.
“I think when you want to pursue music or any arts you should always have a backup plan, Business always seems super cool to me… because you can’t really drift away. It’s straightforward; I like that,” he said. Quintanilla plans to use his business degree to secure his finances and to market himself in the music world. Quintanilla may be working towards a business degree, but he has his heart set on becoming a world-famous pop star.
As a full-time student also making time to work and practice music, Quintanilla considerers himself as a busy person. “It’s hard sometimes, you get anxiety, and there’s so much to do. It’s all about time management and priorities,” he said. In high school, Quintanilla used to practice for about six hours a day. Today, it’s closer to one or two hours.
Quintanilla believes that being a musician is the hardest thing. “You’re always thinking about it, always wanting to do it, in class, at work… Music makes moments more realistic than what it is,” he said. Quintanilla’s passion drives him to keep going and persevere. His love for creating music is his ticket out of reality.
Every musician has their likes and dislikes. Quintanilla hates competitions and has a slight fear of performing in public. “I like the attention, but I don’t like to be seen,” he said.
Even though Quintanilla is pursuing a business degree in addition to his passion for music, there are many other musicians out there struggling to pursue music degrees. Quintanilla offered some advice for those struggling. “Don’t worry so much; doors will open with music. You won’t have to open them,” he advised. As a high school senior, Quintanilla received admission to the NYU School of Music but was worried that he would fail without a backup degree.
In addition to studying and music, Quintanilla teaches guitar to kids at his church. “It’s a little nerve-wracking because the kids pick up your traits and I’m not a professional,” he said with a chuckle. Quintanilla calls his creations “O-pop,“ meaning Oscar-pop.
According to Quintanilla, his music writing is often done at 3 am or whenever creativity strikes. “My goal is that I just want to make music, and be better than yesterday,” he said.
Oscar Quintanilla aspires to become a famous pop star with his musical creations of O-pop. His passion for business and music will help him achieve his dreams in the music world.
Link to Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/oscarquintanilla
My name is Ambika Narula! I was born in Rockville but grew up in Germantown for a majority of my life, before moving to Clarksburg where I currently reside. I am a Clarksburg High School graduate, a former Montgomery College student and now a multi-platform journalism major at the University of Maryland, College Park. A bit about me is that I am a writer, and currently Editor in Chief of UMD’s Odyssey Online. To me, MoCo has always been my home, and I’m proud to be apart of this county, seeing it grow and learning more about it every day.