Meet Nicole Smith


MEET NICOLE

NICOLE CAN BE FOUND WORKING IN LEEDS AS A TRAINEE SOLICITOR BY DAY AND SCALING MOUNTAINS BY NIGHT. NICOLE IS USING HER PLATFORM AS A CONTESTANT FOR MISS UNIVERSE GREAT BRITAIN TO HELP RAISE MONEY FOR A-SISTERHOOD FOUNDATION, A UK-BASED ORGANIZATION THAT “SEEKS TO EMPOWER, SUPPORT AND PROTECT WOMEN WORLDWIDE.” IN HER MISSION TO RAISE MONEY FOR A-SISTERHOOD, NICOLE HAS EMBARKED ON COMPLETING PHYSICAL CHALLENGES INCLUDING A TOUGH MUDDER, HIKING 3 PEAKS, AND A GREAT SOUTH RUN THIS OCTOBER.

ASIDE FROM RAISING MONEY FOR A FEMALE GEARED FOUNDATION, NICOLE ALSO HOLDS A BUSINESS LAW DEGREE AND POST-GRAD LEGAL PRACTICE COURSES ALTHOUGH HER PASSION IS SURPRISING PEOPLE WITH HER COOKING, IN HER KITCHEN OR IN THE FAMILY RUN CAFÉ HER FAMILY OWNS. THIS ENGLISH, TURKISH, GERMAN COLOMBIANA IS BRINGING THE HEAT!

WHAT IS YOUR FAMILY’S BACKGROUND?

I AM HALF COLOMBIAN AND HALF TURKISH AND I WAS BORN IN GERMANY. MY FATHER (STEP-DAD ONLY BY DNA), WHO HAS RAISED ME SINCE I WAS 4, IS ENGLISH SO I ALSO CONSIDER MYSELF TO BE PART ENGLISH!

WHAT IS THE BEST AND WORST DECISION YOU'VE EVER MADE?

DROPPING OUT OF UNIVERSITY AND TAKING 2 YEARS OUT OF MY STUDIES WAS THE WORST BUT BEST DECISION EVER.  I DIDN'T GET INTO MY FIRST CHOICE UNIVERSITY AND THE SECOND WAS NOT EXACTLY THE DREAM EITHER. SO I WENT THROUGH "CLEARING" IN SEARCH OF ANY DECENT UNIVERSITY TEACHING LAW AND I MADE IT THROUGH MY FIRST SEMESTER. I SOON REALIZED I HAD LOST MY PASSION, I WASN'T WORKING AS WELL AS I AM CAPABLE OF AND ULTIMATELY, I WAS WASTING TIME AND MONEY. SO I MADE THE TERRIFYING LEAP OF TELLING MY SCHOLARLY FOCUSED MADRE THAT I WAS TAKING SOME TIME OUT. I WAS COMPLETELY LOST WITH NO DIRECTION OR GOALS BUT THERE BEGAN ONE OF THE BEST CHAPTERS OF MY LIFE.

WAS NAVIGATING COLLEGE DIFFICULT?

EXTREMELY! THERE ARE SO MANY DIFFERENT COURSES NATIONALLY AND INTERNATIONALLY AS WELL AS BURSARIES AND SCHOLARSHIPS, THAT UNLESS YOUR SCHOOL IS SET UP TO GUIDE YOU THROUGH THE PROCESS IT CAN ALL BE VERY CONFUSING!

WHAT FIELD DO YOU WORK IN? IS THIS WHAT YOU SAW YOURSELF DOING FOR A LIVING WHEN YOU WERE

YOUNGER?

I CURRENTLY WORK IN THE LEGAL SECTOR; IT WAS ALWAYS THE CAREER I WANTED EVER SINCE SECONDARY SCHOOL AND I HAVE BEEN PURSUING IT FOR THE LAST 6 YEARS!

WHAT IS YOUR PASSION IN LIFE?

I LOVE TO COOK! I DREAM OF OWNING RESTAURANTS, BAKERIES AND FOOD SHACKS! I WANT TO DO IT ALL.

WHEN DID YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT YOUR PASSION IN LIFE WAS? HOW? WHAT EVENT LED TO THE

DISCOVERY?

I REALIZED I LOVED TO COOK WHEN I MOVED OUT OF THE FAMILY HOME AND BEGAN TO COOK FOR MYSELF AND OTHERS. THERE'S AN INSTANT GRATIFICATION WITH FEEDING OTHERS, THEIR TASTE BUDS ARE EXPLODING WITH THE NEW FLAVOURS YOU'VE CONCOCTED AND THEY ARE OVERCOME WITH JOY. (WELL, THIS IS HOW I ASPIRE TO MAKE PEOPLE FEEL WHEN THEY TRY MY FOOD!) LAST YEAR I THREW A COLOMBIAN FOOD FESTIVAL AT THE CAFE I OWN WITH MY MOTHER AND I WAS IN THE KITCHEN FROM FRIDAY UNTIL SUNDAY - BY THE END OF IT MY HANDS AND FEET WERE ON FIRE BUT I'D DO IT EVERY DAY TO SEE THE FACE PEOPLE MAKE WHEN THEY TASTE SOMETHING DELICIOUS. 

WHAT WAS YOUR BIGGEST CHALLENGE IN GETTING TO WHERE YOU ARE TODAY?

MY BIGGEST CHALLENGE WAS DEALING WITH THE AMOUNT OF PEOPLE THAT TOLD ME I COULDN'T ACHIEVE SOMETHING BECAUSE I WAS A WOMAN/ETHNIC, OR LAUGHED AT MY DREAMS AND TOLD ME TO BE REALISTIC. IT HAS BEEN RIDICULOUS, FROM CAREERS TEAMS TO TUTORS TO FRIENDS AND FAMILY AND IT’S BEEN GOING ON SINCE I CAN REMEMBER. EVERYONE HAS AN OPINION ON YOUR WAY OF LIFE AND ON YOUR DREAMS AND IT’S HARD TO DISASSOCIATE YOURSELF WITH THESE OPINIONS BECAUSE ULTIMATELY IT’S EASIER TO FEAR AND PLAY IT SAFE THAN TO BE COURAGEOUS AND BOLD. 

WHAT SKILLS DID YOU HAVE TO LEARN AND GAIN THAT YOU DIDN’T KNOW YOU NEEDED?

HOW TO HANDLE SEXISM, MICRO-AGGRESSIONS AND BITCHING IN THE WORKPLACE- IT’S SOMETHING I TACKLE ALMOST EVERY DAY. BY NO WAY HAVE I MASTERED THIS MINEFIELD BUT I HAVE LEARNT HOW TO HANDLE HOW I LET IT AFFECT ME. IT IS A CONSTANT LEARNING PROCESS THOUGH, AS TO THIS DAY IT STILL CATCHES ME OFF GUARD EVERY TIME IT HAPPENS.

DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS ON WHAT RESOURCES TO TAKE A LOOK AT IF A PERSON IS INTERESTED IN DOING SOMETHING SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU DO?

RESEARCH! THE TRADITIONAL ROUTE INTO ANY CAREER IS NOT ALWAYS THE BEST ONE FOR EVERYONE, AND TRUST ME, THERE IS A MORE THAN ONE ROUTE FOR ANY JOB - I FOUND OUT THE HARD WAY! ALSO, AS SOON AS YOU ARE ABLE, GET A TASTER JOB IN THAT SPECIFIC FIELD BEFORE YOU EMBARK ON ANY FORMAL TRAINING. THE SKILLS YOU LEARN ARE INVALUABLE AND THEY EASE YOU INTO YOUR CAREER, SO YOU ARE ABLE TO FOCUS MORE ON DEVELOPING YOUR SKILLS AS OPPOSED TO STUMBLING THROUGH OFFICE CULTURE AND POLITICS! OH, AND TAKE A GAP YEAR, WHETHER IT IS AFTER COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY/FORMAL TRAINING - TAKE THE DAMN GAP YEAR- SELF-CARE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN ANY JOB!

WHAT WOMEN INSPIRE YOU AND WHY?

MY BEST FRIEND CHLOE. SHE WAS SOMEONE WHO ENVISIONED SO MUCH FOR HER LIFE AND GOT STUCK IN A DEAD END JOB BECAUSE IT WAS THE "SAFE CAREER OPTION". LITERALLY FROM ONE DAY TO THE NEXT SHE DECIDED TO TAKE THE PAY CUT, FACE A HUGE FEAR OF HERS AND START A COMPLETELY NEW CAREER. SHE'S NOW JET-SETTING AROUND THE WORLD AND HER SKIN IS GLOWING - SHE OOZES HAPPINESS. SHE'S LIVING PROOF THAT SOMETIMES THE GRASS IS GREENER AND SOMETIMES YOU JUST HAVE TO TAKE THE LEAP. 

WHAT ADVISE DO YOU WISH YOU WOULD HAVE LISTENED TO GROWING UP?

DO NOT LET YOURSELF LIVE WITH REGRETS. MOST OF THE THINGS WE BEGIN TO REGRET/TORTURE OURSELVES WITH WERE THINGS THAT MADE SENSE AT THE TIME. THEY'RE NOT ALWAYS THE RIGHT MOVE BUT MORE OFTEN THAN NOT THEY ARE THE ACTIONS THAT SHAPED US INTO WHO WE ARE TODAY.

WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS YOUR BIGGEST ACCOMPLISHMENT THUS FAR? WHAT ARE YOU MOST PROUD OF?

IF I AM REALLY HONEST, I AM MOST PROUD OF THE WOMAN I AM TODAY.  IN THIS WORLD, YOU HAVE TO BE YOUR OWN CHEERLEADER AND NOT WAIT FOR THE ACKNOWLEDGEMENT OF OTHERS. IT TOOK ME YEARS TO LEARN TO LOVE WHO I AM, WHERE I COME FROM, MY APPEARANCE, MY ACHIEVEMENTS, MY CAREER CHOICES - I MEAN EVERYTHING! WE ARE OUR OWN WORST CRITICS AND I PUNISHED MYSELF FOR YEARS WITH DAILY NEGATIVE THOUGHTS ABOUT MYSELF AND SEEKING THE APPROVAL OF EVERYONE. I AM PROUD TO BE A WOMAN THAT CAN NOW GET ON A STAGE AND BE COMFORTABLE IN MY OWN SKIN. (I AM COMPETING IN MISS UNIVERSE GB FOR THE SECOND TIME IN A ROW!)

 

LET’S GET SOCIAL!

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