Yvahn Martin was born and raised in (as she says) “the amazing city of New Orleans.” Growing up, she wanted to be a choreographer and naturopathic physician.
Education played an early role in her life, “My grandfather graduated from college thanks to the GI bill, and he met my grandmother while they both attended a local historically black university. My mother graduated with a mechanical engineering degree from my alma mater, and her brother finished college in computer science.”
Most of her extended family also completed at least high school and some college. There are many professionals throughout her family tree.
College was never “optional” for Yvahn; it was expected and even required. “After college, my grandmother spent 34 years as a schoolteacher, and, as such, education was always a priority to my family.”
Yvahn began college with the intention of majoring in biochemistry and minoring in dance. But as college progressed, she found herself moving further into the artistic realm, especially dance – and ultimately declared a dual major in dance and women’s studies.
Like many artists before her, she took a shot at the big stage. “After moving to Los Angeles with Hollywood dreams and being sorely disappointed with the outcome, I decided to refocus and go back to school for a graduate degree in business and entrepreneurship. I hoped it would help me be a better producer and also give me the resume credibility to move from freelance work to a salaried career with health insurance. I was tired of the freelance hustle.”
Yvahn moved back to New Orleans a year prior to Hurricane Katrina, took the GMAT, the entrance exam for a Master’s degree, and, after the storm, moved to New York. She needed to get into a Master’s program, but first things first: Yvahn got a full-time job as business development and marketing manager of a local software distributor in the hospitality industry.
She then applied to schools, getting into an MBA program, where she studied in the evenings and weekends when she wasn’t busy with her “day job.” Upon graduation, she continued her career in marketing, and now manages fashion eCommerce website, DJPremium.
Yvahn’s advice for anyone embarking upon new education or career paths: If you have a vision and a dream for your future, pursue it wholeheartedly and don’t let anyone dissuade you, no matter how irrational they might make you feel.
However, if you don’t have a specific vision, don’t beat yourself up. Rather, nurture and explore your passions, the things that make you happy and make you feel fulfilled when you do them… and work backwards from there to figure out career options.
Regardless of what your parents tell you, everything will fall into place if you always work as hard as you can. Focus on making money, too, of course, but if you look hard enough, you’ll find opportunities to make money doing things you enjoy, and that’s when you’ll have started a career instead of just another job.”
Finally, we always ask our featured grads how they’ve learned to deal with the ups and downs of life and creating options for themselves. Yvahn Martin said, “You may end up occasionally having jobs that you hate or being in situations that are not where you want to stay forever, but the only way you’ll move forward is by simply doing so – whether it’s one day at a time or all at once.
“Don’t let the mundane drudgery of daily life distract you from your larger goals, whatever they are. You can do anything you set your heart on and work earnestly toward, from reading or writing a book on up to flying to the moon.”
“Success is not about completely avoiding mistakes and setbacks because you’ll always have them even if you try your hardest and execute flawlessly. Success is about moving forward, learning and getting the desired outcome in spite of your mistakes and setbacks no matter how long it takes you.”
She continues, “After abandoning a career in dance for a career in business, I’ve finally been able to bring my interests full circle. I now serve on the governing board of Urban Bush Women, a nonprofit dance company whose workshops and performances I’d attended many times over the years. It has been extremely gratifying, and I can’t wait to see how more of my passions can play out in my career in the future.”
Last but not least, Yvahn is a guest blogger on HuffPost. Read more about Yvahn on LinkedIn.