Tag Archives: Zoe Brown

Zoe Brown Has A Job. Or 7.

Zoe Brown loved Staples High School.

Before graduating in 2015 she served as editor-in-chief of the school paper Inklings, and president of the Teen Awareness Group. She was on Student Assembly, in Student Ambassadors, and played field hockey.

She learned a lot about herself. She made friends who, she says, “have made me a better person.”

The University of Southern California was her dream school. She loved the journalism program, the “Trojan Family” spirit, the beautiful campus, the weather, football games, party scene, and the fact that it was different than any place she’d ever lived.

When she got there though, Zoe realized there were 2 things she did not love: its size, and how far it was from her home and family.

She felt she could not get as involved as she’d been at Staples. She lost her confidence and her passion. And, she says, “I lost myself.”

Zoe Brown

For those reasons — and issues involving mental health — she needed to take a step “to the left.” (That’s the name of her blog post by the same name. Click here for her very honest insights.)

In early August, Zoe chose to take care of herself and her body, by spending the upcoming semester at home.

But she knew she had to stay active. Which is how she now has 7 jobs.

You read that right. Zoe is working at 7 jobs.

First, she was hired as a hostess at Pearl at Longshore.

She then joined Two Oh Three — the zip code-named lifestyle brand — as a communications intern.

Zoe picked up some babysitting and tutoring work too.

Then she became a seasonal worker for Challah Connection, the kosher gift company.

Zoe Brown, at Challah Connection.

She also started helping jewelry designers Allison Daniel and Devon Woodhill.

That’s not all. Zoe is starting a greeting card/poster business with her best friend from Staples, Olivia Crosby — a graphic design student at the University of Connecticut.

Once Zoe finishes her USC classes from last semester, she’ll start tutoring with Freudingman & Billings.

No wonder her business cards say simply: “Zoe Brown — A li’l bit of everything.”

Each job is different. Pearl and babysitting are the most tiring. Pearl and Two Oh Three are the most fun.

But every job involves people. Zoe loves everyone she works with — everywhere –and has learned a lot from all.

She thinks she’s learned the most overall from being a hostess: about people and communication, especially.

Zoe plans to return to USC, and graduate in December 2019. Then — why not? — she’ll head to massage therapy school.

She’d like to work on a yacht or cruise ship, traveling for free before going back to Los Angeles to become a personal assistant to a producer, or work for a production company.

At the same time, she hopes to complete her own screenplays. She’s started one already.

Which means Zoe Brown is actually working 8 jobs right now.

I guess she’s too busy to count them all right.

 

Zoe Brown: “I’m Glad I’m A Spring Admit”

Last March — a couple of months before graduating from Staples High School — Zoe Brown got the legendary fat envelope from the University of Southern California. That’s the good news.

The bad news: She would have to wait nearly a year. Her acceptance was for spring.

Zoe described her reaction — and what’s happened since — on her well-written, entertaining “IMO” blog. Her words should be read by every Staples senior waiting for their own college news — and everyone else in town too.

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Knowing that I would not start college at the same time as all my friends was scary and upsetting. I knew I should have been excited, but I couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed, even cheated.

Could I still make friends? Find my place? Graduate on time? What was I supposed to do for a whole semester? Should I turn down my dream school for one that offered me admission in the fall?

But after finishing up my fall semester at Santa Monica College — a highly ranked community college — I realize that being admitted in the spring was a blessing in disguise. I learned so many lessons and went through so many new experiences that I never would have if I’d started school in the fall.

Zoe Brown, hiking in the Los Angeles hills.

Zoe Brown, hiking in the Los Angeles hills.

This past semester I lived in an apartment building off campus, with 3 other girls.

With no meal plan, I bought my own groceries and cooked (more like “managed to throw together”) my own meals. With no resident assistant or instruction of any sort, I learned to deal with any issue independently.

I learned through clogged toilets, growing mold and festering food that I actually have to clean my surroundings thoroughly, like with a sponge and some special foam scrub.

And from my free time and the 3,000 miles separating me from my parents and most of my friends, I focused on putting myself out there to meet new people.

Most importantly, I also learned to enjoy spending some time with someone who will always be there for me: myself.

Zoe Brown, browsing at The Last Bookstore.

Zoe Brown, browsing in a bookstore.

Being a spring admit forced me to branch way outside my comfort zone.

Westport — where over 90 percent of the population is white and most people live comfortably, even luxuriously — is nothing like Santa Monica College. Here I met just about as many Asians and Hispanics as I did whites.

I met a girl who was admitted to New York University, but had to turn it down for financial reasons. I met a boy from Maryland who lives on his own, and works full-time at a real estate agency. I met a woman 3 times my age who is going to school for the first time, and a boy who knows everything about gangs.

At SMC I discovered that there is so much more outside the bubble that was my hometown and my high school. I’d heard about it before, and I’ve traveled a bit in my lifetime. But until now, I’ve never lived in a place where I could see what else is out there.

Zoe Brown: California girl.

Zoe Brown: California girl.

If you’re at USC, chances are you worked hard throughout high school. If not, you must have worked hard in some other way.

I worked so hard straight through my 4 years of high school that I never had time to do so many things.

Being a spring admit and having so much more time than a normal college student allowed me to cross many of these things off my to-do list.

I had time to explore Southern California in every way – from getting lost on hikes and cruising along the Pacific Coast Highway, to buying books for $1 at The Last Bookstore and doing an overnight trip to Laguna Hills.

I had time to start this blog, to write for other publications, and to actually read books for my own pleasure. Most importantly I had time to breathe, and realize how grateful I should be for where I am today.

Yes, sometimes it sucks to be a little behind socially, and live a walk away from all the on-campus happenings. When it does seem to suck, I try my best to remember that I still made it to the school I dreamed about for years. There’s no reason to be anything but thrilled and proud about that.

Anyway, what’s one less semester, when I’ve got the whole rest of my life to keep FIGHTING ON! with the Trojan family?

(To read Zoe’s full story — and the rest of her blog — click here.)

Even before officially enrolling this spring, Zoe Brown enjoys a USC football game.

Even before officially enrolling this spring, Zoe Brown enjoys a USC football game.

Zoe Brown: “Chris Lemone Will Always Be A Part Of Me”

Zoe Brown graduated from Staples High School in June. Now a freshman at the University of Southern California, she’s also the author of an insightful blog, “IMO.” 

Yesterday she shared her emotions on the death of Staples’ outreach counselor, Chris Lemone. She gave permission to share her beautiful piece with “06880.”

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“You’re it. Your life. Your decision.” That’s the Teen Awareness Group (TAG)’s motto.

Unfortunately though, sometimes life throws something at you that you can’t control, something that’s not your decision at all. I learned this the hard way today.

I didn’t think anything at first of the texts and calls I was getting this morning at 5 from members of Staples High School’s TAG, of which I was co-president last year and Chris was advisor of for many years. But when my little sister called me at 6 a.m. (my time), I knew it must be important.

I couldn’t believe it. I mean, I really still can’t. I screamed “NO” over and over again. My whole body shook and tears spilled out uncontrollably. I couldn’t catch my breath for what felt like, and honestly may have been, an hour.

Chris Lemone was (and will remain) one of my favorite people ever. When I wrote him a thank-you note at the end of the year, I told him that I’d like to stay in touch forever, to which he said “absolutely.” I told him I could guarantee that he was someone who would be at my wedding, that we would still be close friends in 10 or so years. I even had a 30-minute conversation with him over the phone a couple of weeks ago when I was having trouble settling in to college. He made me feel a million times better, and was so happy that I called.

Chris Lemone

Chris Lemone

It’s all so ironic. Chris was one of the best guys I knew and one of the last people to deserve anything negative in his life, let alone this.

He spent all of his time working to help people and make the community a better place. He must have changed and bettered the lives of more people than I even know in total.

There’s no other way to say it besides that it’s not fair. To say it as Chris would have said it, “It’s just really f*cking unfair.”

On an even more personal note, Chris saw more in me than I ever saw in myself.  I was never able to truly express to him with words how grateful I was for his faith in me. So I tried to use my actions. He made me want to be so great that I really did live up to his vision of me.

At the end of last year he wrote me the nicest letter I’ve ever received, praising my leadership and passion. I hope he understood that so much of what I did was in hopes that it would make him proud, and that he would speak highly of me as he did of other past TAG members.

I now hang that letter next to my bed to remind myself every day to be the person that Chris saw me as.

Last weekend, Chris Lemone helped organize a distracted driving event at Staples. It was a huge success. (Photo/Jack Norman)

Last weekend, Chris Lemone helped organize a distracted driving event at Staples. It was a huge success. (Photo/Jack Norman)

What makes this even harder is that usually, Chris is the person I would call if I was ever feeling as I do now: weak, helpless and sadder than I thought possible.

I’m usually good at giving advice but now I’m completely lost. Nothing I say can make it better or make it hurt any less, no matter how hard I try.

So I’m going to try to think like Chris would. He would throw up his hands, raise his eyebrows, lean back in his desk chair in the TAG office by the cafeteria and say with a little half-chuckle: “F*ck. Life just sucks sometimes, man. You gotta try your best to make the most of it while you’re alive.”

I don’t know if he’d say it exactly like that. But he would definitely figure out a way to throw a curse word in there. He would be blunt and honest but also positive at the same time, as always.

There’s really not much else to say. I could write about how I cherish so much the times I would skip class to sit in Chris’ office, and give and receive advice. I could talk about how overly excited we both got when one of us would see a new Broadway show, or how we spent way too long talking about plays in general. Or I could mention the secrets we had that no one would ever understand and how happy I was whenever I was around him, even when he played his crazy loud rock music during lunch meetings.

Chris Lemone helped organize sessions in which upperclassmen spoke with freshmen during health class. The glum faces are not for real; everyone here is waiting for others to show up. (Photo/Kendall Rochlin)

Chris Lemone helped organize sessions in which upperclassmen spoke with freshmen during health class. The glum faces are not for real. Everyone here is waiting for others to show up. (Photo/Kendall Rochlin)

But I don’t need to spend too long talking about any of that because I know that I will always have those memories, even if I don’t have Chris anymore.

We know he loved us and he knows we loved him. We can and will remember the good times forever, and he will live on through our memories. And in everything I do and whoever I become throughout the rest of my life, there will always be a little part of Chris in there.

It’s pretty fitting that he shared this video on Facebook last month. Without us even asking, he left us with some of the best advice out there:

A good lesson shared by an even better man.

I’ll miss you forever, Chris, and I will continue to live every day trying to make you proud of me.

(P.S. I only included curse words because I know Chris is laughing about that from wherever he is now).

John Dodig: ReSpect

There is only one Derek Jeter.

And there is only one John Dodig.

Inspired by the fantastic Jeter “Re2pect” video honoring the Yankee great on his retirement — with everyone from little kids, cops and Rudy Giuliani to Jay-Z, Spike Lee and even Red Sox fans tipping their cap to the superstar — Staples seniors Zoe Brown and Taylor Harrington set out to give their retiring principal his due.

The result is a remarkable tribute to the high school’s one-of-a-kind leader.

If you know Dodig, and understand all he has meant during his 11 years as principal, you’ll look at this video, smile — and shed a tear.

If you don’t know Dodig, watch anyway. You’ll see the impact he’s had on everyone — administrators, teachers, athletes, actors, musicians, artists, kids who might have fallen through the cracks, secretaries, cafeteria workers, custodians, security guards — and you’ll wish you’d known him.

Zoe and Taylor clearly got the most out of their 4 years in Dodig’s Staples. And turning Jeter’s “Re2pect” into Dodig’s “ReSpect” is pure genius.

(If your browser does not take you directly to YouTube, click here.)