Crushing Garlic to Crunching Numbers
a way to remember tasks, Samantha Young ’10
hunts for one of the numbered empty lines tattooed as a “to-do
list” on her left arm and
pens in: passport photo, bank deposit, e-mail mom.
For Young, today’s tasks are
a far cry from the to-do list the professional chef from Washington, D.C., established
for herself three years ago: return to college, be successful, get a great job.
She can now check off all three.
On July 12, Young will trade
in the 90-hour weeks she once worked preparing dishes in
the kitchens of upscale restaurants for 90-hour weeks preparing
reports as a financial analyst at Deutsche Bank in New York
When she enrolled in the Ada
Comstock Scholars program in 2007, the economics major had
exhausted her appetite for the kitchen. Although the pace
was what she needed, the work lacked the intellectual challenge
“Hopefully I’ve found the best of both worlds – intellectually engaging and
physically demanding,” said the 33-year-old Young, as she prepared to graduate
on May 16.
Or, as one Smith alumna at Deutsche
Bank commented to Young during her interview: “When
I saw you worked as a chef, I knew there was nothing we could
do to you that hadn’t already been done.”
Of 60 people Deutsche Bank hired
to work as analysts this year, 35 had performed summer internships
with the company. The majority – if not all – the others had
performed banking internships elsewhere, said Young.
Young did not intern at that or any other bank, which makes
her hire all the more remarkable. Instead, she pursued experiences
in college that she would never have a chance to do again,
such as a Praxis internship at a healthcare clinic in the
But Young is not a stranger
to doing things differently than her peers.
Permanent reminder—Tattooed to her forearm, Sam Young's
"To Do" list is always available.
high school, Young enrolled at L’Academie De Cuisine near Washington,
D.C., where she trained in Classical French and Belgian cuisine.
Demanding years in the kitchen
at various restaurants followed, culminating at the Silk
Road restaurant on Main Street in Northampton.
began to connect with area college students who had returned
to school after pursuing other life experiences. The conversations
she shared with Smith’s
Ada Comstock Scholars and Mount Holyoke’s
Francis Perkins Scholars met a need she had not earlier identified.
“I made the mistake of turning a hobby into a job,” said Young, of her decision
to become a chef.
She contacted both Smith and
Mount Holyoke to inquire about the programs for non-traditional-aged
students. A year at Holyoke Community College, acceptance
letters and the decision to enroll at Smith followed.
16 family members and friends arrive to celebrate Young’s
graduation, there will be a lot of tears reflecting mixed emotions. It will
be a significant moment that Young is not able to share with her older sister,
who died in 2004. And, it will mark a milestone for her family: neither her
mother nor father graduated from college.
“The Ada program was really perfect for me,” said Young. “I may not look like
a traditional graduate but I represent all the same virtues
and talents and skills.”
Coincidentally, the commencement
speaker who will deliver the address to the 2010 graduates—Rachel
of the people Young most admires. She has had a photograph
of the political analyst on her desk for years.
and all of her other belongings will soon be packed away
so that Young can check off the next task on her tattoo to-do
list: Find a place to live in New York City.