Trading West Coast Sunshine for East Coast Grit and Grind
West coast, best coast, right? Now, I’m not trying to start a fight in the comments section by any means, but the Bay Area is objectively sunnier than Pittsburgh, and sunshine makes people happy. So why would a born-and-bred California native come out to rainy Pittsburgh to go to college?
Because she isn’t afraid to take risks to chase her dreams, that’s why.
You may remember seeing Jenny Ke in our recent Home for the Holidays video that we dropped in December. If you don’t recall, check out the video below:
Allllll the feels. Niche is a Pittsburgh-based company, so we sourced local students and film crew to assist us in the production of this video. Jenny is a freshman studying Business at Carnegie Mellon University, and she is passionate about acting and modeling. We sat down with Jenny recently to ask her about her journey to find where she belongs and how she ended up across the country to pursue her education.
What led you to choose Carnegie Mellon University for college?
I chose CMU because of its emphasis on technology and innovation. I wanted to experience a change location-wise and wanted to try living on the East Coast, so I figured that CMU would offer a new, refreshing environment. I wanted to jump out of my comfort zone and try something new! Also, CMU’s business school has a stellar reputation and offers exceptional resources for professional and personal success. I knew that I would be challenged at CMU, and I enjoy CMU’s interdisciplinary focus
What is your dream job? What are your passions?
My dream job is to be the CEO of a company. I also really enjoy acting and modeling. I enjoy working with children as well. Ideally, I would be an entrepreneur with my own company and also do acting and modeling at the same time!
What activities are you involved in on campus?
Alpha Kappa Psi (professional business fraternity)
Smart Women Securities
What did you think freshman year was going to be like and how has it actually been so far?
I thought that freshman year was going to be a lot more relaxing and more laid-back. Academics have been a lot more difficult than I’ve expected. It is stressful, of course, but I’ve met so many phenomenal people and have made amazing friends. It’s been super fun meeting people and being a part of organizations on campus.
Moving so far from home is such a brave thing. Especially from California to the tundra that is Pittsburgh! What are the challenges you’ve faced being in this totally new environment and what has helped you to face them?
In terms of the weather, the East Coast has been very different. The precipitation has been a slight culture shock. I’ve gone through two umbrellas already. The rain is pretty intense at times and is something I’m definitely not used to. I’ve gone from wearing shorts and a t-shirt in Cali to wearing layers upon layers of clothing in Pittsburgh. I thought seasonal depression was a joke, but it turns out, it’s a very real thing that drastically affects people. It can be hard to adjust to unfamiliar environments, but it’s comforting to have friends who have lived in Pittsburgh. It’s also good to know that many other people are in the same boat as me, having come a long way from home. It helps to bond with friends over homesickness.
The weather really is crazy here, and I’m so glad to hear that you’ve found a strong community here. How did you get involved with acting?
I did a play when I was younger in a Shakespeare acting summer camp. I also did a pageant, placed top 10 in the pageant, and got scouted with an agency after. I took acting and modeling lessons with the agency and discovered that I really enjoyed it! From there, I did short films, built my portfolio, networked with industry professionals, and booked more acting/modeling gigs.
What advice do you have for incoming freshmen or those who are thinking of moving far from home?
Don’t be afraid to try new things and take risks! Go out and explore and don’t let fear hold you back! Don’t worry too much and try and relax and enjoy the process even if it seems daunting and stressful at times. Keep in touch with family and friends back home.
If you are moving far from home, try and visit the new location at least once to get a feel for the weather and environment. Also, do a lot of research on the weather/environment/etc so you are more prepared and have a better idea of what to expect and what to pack.
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