Today’s Brilliance from Charis Freiman-Mendel

One of my Mom’s friends was once talking to me about which career I am interested in, when I finish school. I always remember her words of wisdom: “It’s not ‘work’ if you love what you do.” Have the courage to follow your passion. Great things can happen and you will be happier for it!

Students don’t have to wait to finish school to follow her advice. I wrote a cookbook during two years in home school, because it allowed me to combine my love of cooking with my need to study for the standardized test I had to take for admission to traditional high school.

When I was in 6th grade, my Mom suggested we try home school. She felt my curriculum could be more creative and more intensive. I thought about it for most of that year and finally decided to try it. I would home school 7th and 8th grades, and then apply to the high school my brother was attending.

The hard part was that I would be leaving my friends and miss out on things like gossip, lunch room fun, after school sports, and hanging out at the lockers. I decided to give it a try, knowing I could return to my middle school if it didn’t work out. The wisdom I learned from that decision was: take chances, be flexible, and remember that there are many ways to solve any problem.

My Mom was willing to try different teaching and learning methods, as long we kept to a “standards-based” curriculum. I have cooked since I was very young and I wanted more time in the kitchen. We brainstormed and made a deal that I could cook, but I had to research and write about each of the recipes to help prepare me for the verbal section of my test. I worked on the project for two years, and published the book right before starting my freshman year of high school.

Writing the book was an innovative way to help me improve my internet research skills, vocabulary, writing and reading comprehension, and of course, culinary ability. My verbal scores shot up as a result of immersion in something I love. My Mom’s friend’s advice also applies to schooling: it’s not work if you make learning fun.

BYOD for me is pots and pans. I’d choose them over an iPad any day! No matter what your interest is, whether it’s sports, music, computers or dance, there’s a way to make your passion serve your other needs. You just have to find the way.

What have I learned that matters, and what doesn’t? Doing makes you happier than having!

Charis Freiman-Mendel

I am 15 years old and I am finishing my freshman year of high school at Choate Rosemary Hall, a boarding school in Connecticut. I have 3 brothers, one human (Ross) and two canine (Diego and Jorge, my labradoodles). I am passionate about cooking, play varsity squash, and am serious about my academics. I also play the cello, and I love to travel. I blog about food and words at SATgourmet.com, where I share recipes and review restaurants, cookbooks and cooking products. I am a diehard Italophile and hope to spend some time living in Italy some day. My favorite chefs are Julia Child and Ina Garten. I would like to develop a product line of food... I have some ideas but they have to wait until I finish school! 

For more information, please visit SATgourmet.com.

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