Virtual reality for all


A thick envelope carrying a letter of acceptance was once the most exciting thing a college bound student could anticipate receiving in the mail. But virtual reality is changing that, and much more. For 5,000 students accepted by Savannah College of Art and Design, a package containing VR goggles may just have upstaged their acceptance letter.

VR has long been pursued as a tool for immersive storytelling. SCAD is using it to help students get an idea of what their story could be here. What they’ll see through their goggles isn’t fantasy, but a 360-degree, real-life experience. Using the gyroscope in smartphones, the goggles create a display for the left and right eye, allowing the user to feel as though they’re walking around SCAD’s locations. If you can’t visit Atlanta from California, say, VR will take you there.

The cardboard goggles, which will arrive flat packed on students' doorsteps, and their predecessor Oculus Rift, are far sleeker than the first generations of clunky VR headsets. In addition to a wider field of view and better graphics, in the case of computer-simulated environments, the release of consumer oriented, open source Google Cardboard finally made VR an affordable and real tool for all manner of applications, including education. Oculus is expected to release a more affordable version of their headset in late 2015.

Experts, including SCAD interactive design and game development professor Josephine Leong, are enthusiastic about the possibilities that fresh VR technologies can create.

What we’re starting to see is VR for the masses. I show these tools to my students because they are going to be designing for this generation. Google put it out there, but it’s up to the individual to figure out how to use it. That's what’s going to make it innovative. – Josephine Leong

Ironically, in the 1990s, a growing focus on another phenomenon that brings more utility to VR – the rise of the internet – helped scuttle remaining hope for advancement. Up until that point, VR saw 20 years or more of halting progress for medical and military research and, of course, gaming. But VR also has roots in CAD, music and interactive art, which made us realize that VR can not only help art and design students preview where they’ll study, but what they’ll study, and what they’ll make.

SCAD’s plans include expanding the targets for their goggles to high schools and teachers. The content will become more varied, too. Videos on university exhibitions and events like Chinese New Year and the university fashion show will help these experiences transcend geography and engage a wider audience, extending the classroom beyond the traditional brick and mortar.

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At SCAD Savannah bikes know no season


Got spring? No doubt, our friends up North are asking that. Winter will endure for a good while longer, but when it comes to commuting to and from classes at Savannah College of Art and Design, it is eternal spring. 

That's because in a recent university survey, roughly 30 percent of SCAD Savannah students said they cycle daily or weekly. That’s compared to two percent for the general population of commuters in Savannah and the national average of just over one percent. Can’t say that we blame you, New England.

With major infrastructure improvements coming soon to Savannah streets, thanks to advocates like Savannah Bicycle Campaign, photo opps like these are sure to grow.



Golden #bike at #SCAD #style

A photo posted by Marc Mueller (@muellermm) 


A photo posted by @scaddotedu on

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Geoffrey Beene scholarship winner makes wearable tech beautiful


Imagine a high-end piece of jewelry whose materials – the finest silver and semi-precious stones - elegantly camoflauge a host of technology designed to maximize your personal performance. Haven’t you seen this somewhere? The MICA bracelet at Barney’s? Tory Burch for Fitbit? No. The versatile collection of smart luxury jewelry that hosts bio and emotional feedback, performance and GPS tracking, and Bluetooth enabled alerts, exists in the case study that won fashion student Elva Jiang a 2015 Geoffrey Beene National Scholarship for $30,000.

Balancing her roles at Savannah College of Art and Design as an All American athlete on the university’s golf team and double major in fashion design and fashion marketing and management, Elva could very well be the target customer of her Spiked Orchid collection of smart rings, earrings, bracelets and necklaces. By wearing any of these pieces and using the accompanying app, a woman could track her golf or tennis swing with the motion sensor, get bio-feedback with the skin conductance sensor, access her favorite music, and stay on top of incoming messages via Bluetooth.

These prototypes by Yinglei Liu (B.F.A., jewelry, senior) helped bring Elva’s concept collection to life. Photographs by Niduan Zhou (B.F.A., photography, 2014).
An average week for Elva includes four days of classes, up to three hours of golf practice five days a week, including a minimum of three workouts, and Bikram yoga sprinkled in during her rare free time.

Being a student athlete pushes me to work with hyper-efficiency because knowing that I have less free time than regular students, I make sure that I cherish every minute I have to complete my school projects in time. In other words, being on the golf team gives me the momentum I need to work harder and to always strive for better.

Elva is on the path of the driven and discerning woman who inspired Spiked Orchid. She laid the foundation for winning the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship when she won a Young Menswear Association (YMA) Scholarship for $5,000. In response to the challenge put to the 2014 YMA Scholarship hopefuls to present a plan to help retailer JC Penney connect with the millennial customer, Elva created a label called Glass Ceiling. In her words, Glass Ceiling would, “Empower the young, business-minded Millennial woman who strives to transcend economic and social boundaries to take over the ‘corner office’ and become the top executive of a company.”

When SCAD selected Elva to represent the university in the competition for the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship, she continued this theme of using fashion to empower the modern woman, while also tapping her passion for golf.

Women’s empowerment has been a running theme throughout my YMA case studies because I simply hope that modern women, including myself, can be treated and empowered in ways that allow them to achieve their full potential.

Golf has been a catalyst, giving Elva an edge in fulfilling her potential. This firsthand experience is what helped her build on existing products like Cuff to deliver a product proposal perfectly suited for women whose business endeavors transcend office walls.

Elva completed a summer internship in the corporate marketing department of Global Brands Group. In between designing a look book for Jonathan Adler’s accessory collection and graphics for Tignanello’s social media platforms, she took advantage of YMA’s "Breakfast with the Bosses" series, which put her in striking distance of CEOs in the fashion industry. At one particular breakfast, DDK Apparel CEO Paul Rosengard mentioned his next goal was to become a single-digit golfer. Elva immediately introduced herself and was soon enjoying a round with Paul and the general counsel of Li & Fung.

On the golf course we’re all equal. They don’t treat me like a student. If not for golf, I wouldn’t have built those relationships, which were very helpful in my presentation for the Geoffrey Beene Scholarship.

As a resident of Taiwan, Elva believes the scholarship will help her obtain the O-1 Visa so she can begin her career as a buyer in New York following her graduation from SCAD. But just like the women she had in mind when creating Spiked Orchid, Elva’s vision isn’t restricted by geography.

Growing up in Beijing allowed me to witness the civilization and the fast-growing fashion industry in China, which has influenced me to believe that Beijing and Shanghai both have the potential to be the next fashion capitals in the world.

Wherever she lands, the convergence of wearable tech and active sportswear are sure to keep Elva inspired and equipped for success.

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Happy Holidays


Happy Holidays from the SCAD blog! It has been a pleasure throughout the year to share your stories and your work, work like you’ll see enclosed from our talented students and alumni. The blog’s mission is to share the best in art and design. Thanks for making it so easy and for submitting your art for inclusion in our card. Best wishes in 2015, and keep us 'posted'.



Annie Tyner, graphic design and illustration


Craig Matola, industrial design

Craig Matola, industrial design

"Christmas Adventure"
Alissa Berkhan, illustration

"Christmas Adventure"
Alissa Berkhan, illustration



"The Beauty & The Terrible Beast"
Carolin Leary Prinn, B.F.A., painting, 2010

"Merry and Bright"
Stephanie Meyer, illustration


Stephanie Meyer, illustration





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Congratulations, graduates! SCAD commencement in pictures


Here's to the 413 new alumni from Savannah College of Art and Design who graduated in the university's 35th commencement ceremonies. We agree with Academy Award-winning screenwriter Geoffrey Fletcher's characterization of you as individuals and as a class: you are brilliant 'containers of gifts that you will share with the world.' Please keep us posted on all that you do.


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Shanghai Fashion Week through student eyes


Sixty-five students from Savannah College of Art and Design in Hong Kong recently traveled to Shanghai Fashion Week and Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics, the second largest fabric fair in the world. The field trip afforded students from SCAD’s fashion, fashion marketing and management, and luxury and fashion management programs in-depth exposure to Asia’s fashion capital and some of Shanghai’s best galleries and creative spaces, including "M50", a contemporary art district on par with New York’s SoHo and Beijing’s 798 Art Zone.

For Singapore-born Dawn Bey (B.F.A., fashion), the Shanghai trip provided first-hand knowledge of how Shanghai’s fashion industry operates, from design and manufacturing, to marketing and retail sales.

If you want to work in Shanghai one day, you have to see it and feel it yourself. Shanghai is where the market is, where the jobs are. - Dawn Bey

Dawn visited the fashion shows of Mainland designers Ye Weicheng and Elysee Yang Guanhua. Her courses at SCAD prepared her to notice both the overall concept and small details of the looks - like how a zipper was done - when models came down the runway. She was particularly interested in noticing new construction and new techniques for finishing garments. Most impressive to Dawn was Intertextile Shanghai Apparel Fabrics, where 3,500 fabric and accessory companies from 35 countries around the globe exhibited.

It’s not easy for young designers to gain access to the latest in garment making technology. Attending the shows in person enabled them to grasp the trends better. Selecting fabric samples to take home is another reason why designers-to-be look forward to attending shows.

Student Madeleine Ivey (B.F.A., photography; minor, fashion marketing and management) noticed that the stores she visited in Shanghai were full of inspiration pulled from the runway. Here’s an excerpt from her journal:

The M50 galleries were another amazing part of the trip and one of my favorites. Since I’m a photography major with a fashion marketing and management minor, the YSL exhibit was extremely relevant to me. The photographer featured, Pierre Boulat, made a huge impact in fashion photography, as he was the only photographer allowed to shoot YSL’s first show. This set the tone for his work for the next years of his life. He was also featured in Time and other fashion magazines. It was very cool to see his prints in real life! Although a bit difficult to understand, the Woolmark presentation got me thinking about wool in a whole other light. It was also fascinating to see the 'future of fashion' through just one company, and how they are utilizing their brand for the future. I loved the idea of putting wool into jeans and sportswear. I was blown away by how huge the fabric fair was…literally the size of an international airport! We were able to go to a lot of the stations and see different fabrics and accessories. It was overwhelming for sure! My favorite station was the innovative fabrics. I also thought it was incredible how many companies attended and how many options for clothing and zippers, etc. there were.

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SecureCampus: a new level of safety


SCAD is adding another tool to our public safety strategy when we launch the SecureCampus network, a gunfire detection system. SecureCampus will cover a two-square-mile area in downtown Savannah, Georgia, with an array of sensors  — exterior and interior — that identifies the specific audio frequency created only by gunfire.

John Buckovich, director of security for the SCAD Department of Public Safety, says this new tool can give the entire SCAD community more certainty in their safety.

“Our goal everyday is to create a safe campus experience without losing the open environment that makes SCAD an innovative place to learn and grow. SecureCampus will be a great asset in helping us achieve that goal. While no system is foolproof, this gives my team, the Savannah Chatham Metropolitan Police Department and federal law enforcement agencies another tool to make SCAD Savannah safer.”

The sensors, which don’t have audio listening or recording capabilities, are sophisticated enough to pinpoint the exact location of gunfire (similar sounds like firecrackers or a backfiring truck don’t set the sensors off) and sends an immediate notification to first responders.

Buckovich added that, though the new layer of safety is impressive, it shouldn’t replace commonsense safety practices.

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Equine Couture ambassador Lindsay Dyer


She was following her dream. She “worked her butt off for it.” Then she was told she didn’t make the cut.

When junior Lindsay Dyer (B.F.A. advertising) came to the Savannah College of Art and Design it was because it was one of the few schools that offered a bachelor’s degree in advertising and a collegiate equestrian program. But pursuing both didn’t come easy.

During her freshman year, she tried her best to get on SCAD's equestrian team. She worked out, she knew the sport, but her background was in jumping contests whereas many of SCAD’s competitions focus on poise and balance — called equitation.

"I didn’t make it,” she said hesitantly, recalling her first tryout.

Part of the rejection still stings, she says, but it served as fodder for motivation. She could have given up, but she decided “to be tenacious” instead.

“I put my head down and got focused,” she said. “I knew I had a ton to learn. So I started training more.”

Another year passed, another chance came and her hard work paid off. Dyer remembers vividly when she was notified last year that she made the team. She laughs and smiles when asked about it. As fresh as the sting of rejection sometimes feels, triumph feels fresher, she says.

“It was an amazing moment to make the cut,” she said.

Since then, things have only gotten better for the Kansas native. Dyer was recently selected as one of two brand ambassadors for Equine Couture, a fashion company that specializes in riding gear.

“It was my idea,” she added. “I just reached out to the company about it. They’ve never done this sort of thing before."

There's a shared lesson in trying out for the SCAD equestrian team and reaching out to Equine Couture, Dyer says.

"You’ve got to be tenacious and stick your neck out. You’ve got to advocate yourself and go for it. With Equine Couture, I saw a need, I sent an email and now I’m a brand ambassador.”

When Dyer contacted the company, she pitched the idea that she would promote their brand using her Facebook, Instagram and Twitter accounts. Dyer says many companies are looking for a way to break through the noise of competing ads by finding brand ambassadors — real humans who love a product enough to market it organically.

“Equine Couture loved the idea,” she said. “Over the years, I noticed other brands creating ambassadors. So I approached them with the concept that I would endorse them through social media. They gave me free clothes to do it! It’s a great trade off.”

It helps that Equine Couture fashion is something Dyer knows well.

“I’ve been wearing the brand ever since I’ve been riding,” she said. “Their clothes are comfortable. They fit me so well, which makes me more able to focus on my riding.”


Since officially becoming an ambassador last month, Dyer has been getting 20 to 30 new followers on her social media pages a day, thanks in part to Equine Couture’s own marketing. When she started her Instagram account had roughly 400 followers. Now it's reached more than 1200.

“It really is a perfect trade off,” she said. “They get great marketing and I get the experience. It’s been a great learning opportunity."

Dyer is currently gearing up for the Tournament of Champions Preseason Classic, which kicks of college-level equestrian competitions for the 2014-2015 season. That contest is set for Saturday, Sept. 20, in the Baltimore suburb of Towson, Maryland. Meanwhile, the first Intercollegiate Horse Show Association (IHSA) competition is set for Saturday, Sept. 27, in Tallahassee, Florida.

“Riding has always been my priority, ever since I was 7 and my parents got me riding lessons," she said. "They thought I was being a crazy kid, that it was something I’d grow out of at some point. Now, it’s something I can do in my adult life. It’s been fantastic to be able to continue that passion while still studying what I love with advertising. It’s really amazing how it just worked out at SCAD.”

Which wasn’t the initial plan, Dyer added.

“I never saw myself as an art school kind of person,” she said. “I was even touring another university when I thought ‘this is way too traditional for me.’ I needed a strong art and advertising program. When I learned I could get that, along with having a chance to pursue equestrian competitions, I knew SCAD was for me. I couldn’t find that combination anywhere else.”

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SCAD alumni unite at Elephant Parade in Hong Kong

Tags: Events

Illegal ivory poaching and vast deforestation has plunged the population of Asian elephants to dangerous lows. Roughly 50,000 of their kind are left in the world, according to several international conservation reports. The outlook on their long-term survival is grim, with the International Union for the Conservation of Nature placing them on the endangered Red List and some predicting the species will be extinct in the wild as soon as 2050.

But several conservationists and artists are responding to these bleak statistics with hope during the Elephant Parade exhibition. The traveling art gallery is raising awareness by featuring galleries of life-sized baby elephant replicas designed by an array of artists. The parade is currently in Hong Kong and features the work of SCAD alumni Kevin Lee Jr. (B.F.A., sound design, 2013), Michael-Birch Pierce (M.F.A., fibers, 2012) and April Rivers (B.F.A., fibers, 2011).

Their artwork, along with several other contributions, are featured at the Pacific Place shopping center in Central Hong Kong, the Cityplaza complex near Tai Koo Station and Citygate Outlets on the northernmost part of Lantau Island near the Hong Kong International Airport. The exhibition ends on Tuesday, Sept. 9.

Twenty percent of the Elephant Parade's net profit — along with 100 percent of money earned from auctioning off handpicked statues — goes to the Asian Elephant Foundation, according to the event organizers. The nonprofit foundation's board members, in turn, distributes the funding to projects that aim to stave off extinction. Some past projects include funding nature reserves where the elephants can live unthreatened, as well as educational programs taught worldwide.

Each elephant statue took on the artists' different styles. Lee used strips of colorful LED lights, Pierce turned to his admiration for "the tacky and gaudy," while Rivers left the statue in its natural white state, enhancing it with fibers and bones while "retaining something pure."

When Pierce set off to create his elephant replica he said he wanted to create something that harkened back to a time when Eastern culture revered elephants, dressing them with beautiful ornaments.

    (The East) adorned elephants with crazy gold fabrics, big metal headdresses. They were regal and reverend. They were precious.

Pierce searched for materials in the markets of Sham Shui Po. Despite what he called a "sensory overload of overstimulation," he managed to focus long enough to find what he needed in stores filled to the brim with beads and crystals.

As a self-professed animal lover and conservationist, Pierce is happy to know that his artwork's wide exposure to bustling Hong Kong will help tell the story about the potential extinction of Asian elephants. Art is sometimes the only digestible way for people to see an environmental crisis through the blur of their busy lives, he added.

"It's not always easy trying to convince someone to change their minds when they have no intention of changing their minds in the first place," he said. "I think that creating these elephants in this way is a really great way to draw attention to the problem. Everyone can connect to art."

For Rivers, the experience in Hong Kong was "eye opening."

"It was extremely inspiring," she said. "It's amazing to just be in Sham Shui Po. To take in the smells, the colors, the sounds and the textures."

Rivers worked closely with Lee in a shared studio and was nearby Peirce's workspace. The whirlwind trip, along with a tight deadline, made "war buddies" out of the three, she said. Having their different paths converge in Hong Kong — Lee from California, Pierce from Virginia and Rivers from Texas — turned colleagues into friends.

"The three of us got very close," she said. "We all brought different strengths. Kevin had a very mechanical brain, which complimented my love of girly things like fibers and soft materials. Peirce brought the glitter and glam. It was a good mix and we learned a lot from each other. I miss them."

Her new friendships speak to the collaborative nature SCAD fosters, Rivers added.

People often choose to go to the college near their hometown because it's close by, but sometimes they end up staying in one place. On the other hand, SCAD is such a hodgepodge of people. It has campuses everywhere. There's no way you could get these kinds of experiences anywhere else.

Taking part in Elephant Parade also allowed the alumni to pass on some experience to SCAD Hong Kong students who helped workshop the statues. Pierce said he especially enjoyed letting the students have "free range" on a large portion of his replica.

"Working with the students at Hong Kong was great," he said. "I think that it's very important to show that there’s actually a career to be had after graduation, using the skills they're learning at SCAD. I was worried I would have to work with 19-year-old kids who didn't necessarily have the experience they needed for this kind of project. But these students are driven. They're talented."

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Bridal fashion's rising star and newest TV show: Heidi Elnora


Heidi's Build-a-Bride collection landed her in Nordstrom bridal suites and drew brides from as far away as Dubai to her shop in Alabama.

The collection is the inspiration behind the name of Bride by Design — her new 30-minute pilot, set to air Friday, July 25, at 10 p.m. The episode will focus on her helping two brides, including former Miss Tennessee.

I spoke with her about this success before the July 25 premiere.

Sophie Paulette wedding dress by Heidi Elnora

Thread: Tell me about the show.

Heidi: It shows the backstory of all it takes to get a dress made — from the sampling, to picking out the fabric, to making the muslin. It’s a lot of the SCAD background that I have and going through those classes of what you have to do to be a designer. It gives the viewer that point of view. It also gives the brides point of view, "It’s such a big day, it’s such a big moment, it’s such an important dress. I’m trusting this girl to do this. Can she pull it off?"

In the initial episode I help two brides. One a true couture gown that we started from scratch — selecting the fabric, doing the muslins, creating the pattern so she never sees her actual dress until the day that she takes it home. It’s a little nerve wracking but she trusts me. The second one is something that I’ve been doing for 8 years. I trademarked it as Build-a-Bride. I always dreamed about being a designer and growing up in Alabama it wasn’t one of the top job opportunities. I want everyone even if they don’t have that opportunity to be a designer and have that creative platform. The bride can basically build her own dress.

T: How did you make it from Carter's to your own thing?

H: I wasn’t your typical 22 year old. I would work at Carter’s during the day and at night I would sew women’s ready-to-wear. I was a nerd. All my friends were at parties and meeting boys and I was sewing in my basement. I didn’t care because I knew that when I was 30 I wanted to have my own company.

After I got kicked off Project Runway I came back to Carter’s and I was kind of bummed out. Then I got hit by a drunk driver. My mom brought me home to Alabama and once I was here I met this boy, fell in love and six months later I put in my notice at Carter's and moved to Alabama to be with him.

I thought, “Heidi, you need to make your dream a reality. There’s a reason why you’re back home in Alabama.” What could I create that someone would love and cherish and say this is a piece of art — this is part of my heart? And I thought, a wedding dress.

T: How did you find the resources?

H: I went to a nonprofit agency and got a loan to start my company in November 2006. There is no guide on how to become a successful design house. I never had investors, which is huge. I wanted to do it on my own. It has not always been easy, but this is who I am meant to be.

T: What's the importance of a balance between local and global?

H: I began locally, but it got to a point when Nordstrom picked up the line that we just could not meet demand. What’s most important at the end of the day to me is customer service and quality. I wanted to make sure every dress that came out is perfection. We did have to begin sourcing overseas, but with Build-a-Bride every little trim is handmade in Alabama. We’re selling more dresses which means we can hire more people locally to help me run the company. It’s just growing and growing and growing. I am helping our local economy which is very important to me.

T: You are in boutiques worldwide?

H: I'm in 26 stores, 14 of those are Nordstrom. They have 18 bridal suites and I’m in 14 of those. I just got picked up by a store in London, my first international store. I’ve had brides fly in from as far as Dubai.

T: How have you attracted customers from around the world and landed in big retailers?

H: We have a good reputation because I’m meticulous about taking care of my brides. That’s what’s most important in the industry. We don’t do a lot of advertising. The trend is more of a grass roots approach. It doesn’t have to be giant ads and billboards. People want to connect with the brand more and that’s what we’re focusing on.

T: What gave you an idea for Build-a-Bride? To customize your offerings like that?

H: Every bride would come into the store and want a sweetheart neckline, fit-and-flare, low V-back chapel length train. If I heard it one time, I heard it 50 billion times. I said, "I’m just going to make this one dress — the name of that dress is the Coco Marie — and it's our number one selling dress of all time. People would come in and say, "I want lace, I want this." I just started building little trims. Since it was such a phenomenon I’ve added more silhouettes and more trims. Now a bride can come in with these 14 silhouettes and try on every imaginable style and look of a dress within 14 dresses. You don’t have to travel all over the world and try on different looks. You can put on one or two dresses and figure it out.

T: Is there a trend toward customization?

H: Brides are more focused on do-it-yourself and being independent and their weddings are more that way. They want to create their own looks. That’s why Pinterest is huge in the bridal market. Girls are getting inspired and they want to be unique. That’s why Build-a-Bride is special. You can have 100 girls in the same silhouette and they would look night and day. It’s huge right now.

T: What skills did SCAD arm you with?

H: It’s truly an art-focused school for the career that you want. Pattern making. Illustration. Sewing. Learning how to sew an invisible zipper correctly. There are so many young designers that go to college for fashion that don’t know how to sew an invisible zipper or how to do a French seam. The couture techniques SCAD taught me are amazing.

T: Can you share some advice for young designers?

  1. Pray often. It is extremely important to seek council and advice from people that you trust and have your best interest at heart.

  2. Constantly ask questions. No question is ever a bad question. Soak up as much knowledge as humanly possible.

  3. Don't give up. Anything worth having is worth fighting for. It isn't always easy. If it was easy everyone would do it.

  4. Keep true to yourself and your beliefs. That is what makes you and your company unique. Don't worry about what everyone else is doing.

  5. There are no true guidelines on how to be successful at something that you start from scratch. Oftentimes you have to just put on your big boy/girl pants and make it happen!

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