Next Up: Bakery Owner
Since age seven, Saamiya Mohammed has been a busy baker. Two years ago, she got serious about her sweet skills and established a business. Known as “the cake girl” around campus, the business administration major somehow makes time to go all-in on the student experience.
Since age seven, Saamiya Mohammed has been a busy baker. Two years ago, she got serious about her sweet skills and established a business. She whips up custom cakes, cookies and hot cocoa bombs that have her customers — and her classmates — clamoring for a sample.
A business administration degree from Brightpoint will put her on the path to her dream — opening a bricks-and-mortar bakery.
Known as “the cake girl” around campus, Saamiya works 20 hours a week on her side gig, but somehow makes time to go all-in on the student experience. She’s the sole student representative for Brightpoint’s Foundation Board of Directors and the former Student Government secretary. But it’s her role as a student ambassador — giving campus tours and offering a welcoming smile at new-student orientation — that provided an important networking opportunity.
Make profitable connections
Through that role, she met William "Bill" Fiege, Brightpoint’s vice president of learning and student success, who connected her with a Hopewell, Va., store that now sells her hot cocoa bombs. With income from her business, combined with her Brooks Family Scholarship and Pell grants, Saamiya will graduate from Brightpoint debt-free, then transfer to a four-year school to complete a bachelor’s degree and, perhaps, an MBA.
Affordability was a necessary factor in her college choice — and Brightpoint fulfilled that requirement. But another decisive factor was Brightpoint’s reputation as a close-knit and engaged community. “I live closer to a different community college, but at the other one I’ve heard about people just going to classes and then going home. I chose Brightpoint because I really value clubs and extracurriculars,” Saamiya says.
"I like the sense of familiarity and, at the same time, there’s always something new, always a different opportunity. I’ll miss that when I transfer because at a bigger college it might be harder to get all those opportunities.”
Find opportunities galore
Brightpoint’s “sense of togetherness” validated her decision, she says. “It’s bigger than my high school but also definitely smaller than many colleges, so I recognize a lot of faces on campus. I see the president walking by, and he says hi to me. I like the sense of familiarity and, at the same time, there’s always something new, always a different opportunity. I’ll miss that when I transfer because at a bigger college it might be harder to get all those opportunities.”
Not only does she enjoy the intimacy of the small college atmosphere but also digging into discussion-based classes that are the calling card for many selective four-year colleges. “I really enjoyed the way my history and sociology professors taught their classes,” Saamiya says. “They have students speak up in class and discuss with each other. That’s really rewarding but fun. I was also a bit challenged academically in those classes. They would ask me questions, then follow-up questions. I didn’t feel like I was just breezing through class with an easy A.”
“Now I’m taking econ and accounting, and those two tie-in together. It’s interesting to learn more about the mathematical part of business because usually I’m more just thinking about the creative side of it.”
Discover new angles
A standout course in her major was Basic Business 100. “I really liked the way my professors structured the class, and it made me feel good about choosing my major as something in the business world,” she explains. “Now I’m taking econ and accounting, and those two tie-in together. It’s interesting to learn more about the mathematical part of business because usually I’m more just thinking about the creative side of it.”
Preparing to transfer next fall has been a smooth process for Saamiya, thanks to a supportive adviser. “He’d meet with me, lay out all my options and calm me down because it’s easy to get stressed out about this type of stuff,” she says. “I appreciate that the process has been very personalized and specific to me and that my personal struggles were dealt with.”
Almost 10 years after her first college attempt, Tiandra Threat returned to Brightpoint with a clear vision to grow her business career and leveraged every possible opportunity to build her network and experience, as a campus leader, mentor and mentee.
Although she had a bachelor’s degree in hand, Clarissa Perry was unsure about her career path. A soul-searching six months of hiking the Appalachian Trail connected her with tradespeople who sparked her next move: learning how to weld.
A single dad of two girls, Kenneth Pritchett had accomplished a lot as a medical records technician for nearly 25 years and as a local school board member. But there was one thing he didn’t have: a college degree. Brightpoint helped him change that.
During the pandemic, Chrishelle York enrolled at Brightpoint in search of a career change and more stability. She juggled coursework, homeschooling her daughter and managing her salon. Now, she’s transferring to VCU in pursuit of a career in human resources.