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.