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Conscious Beauty Spotlight: Discover U

by Burt’s Bees | 10 min read

We spoke to students all over the US channeling back-to-campus energy after a long year of uncertainty and video lectures. They explain the biggest lessons they’ve learned, how they’ve discovered who they really are, and what has them excited for the future.

How’d you pick your university?

Usha: Northwestern has a really good studying abroad public health/global health program and I really like Chicago, it's one of my favorite big cities. As a low-income student, financial aid is really important. Northwestern is a full financial-need-met school, I simply can't go to a school that I can't afford, that's not an option. All of those factors really just summed it up for me.

How’d you pick your major?

I really, really like global health. There are so many things from my own experiences in health and inequities stemming from the fact that I'm originally from Nepal, so I understand a lot of the complexities that come in health and inequities there, as well as being low-income in the United States and seeing how scary the health care system is. I was really interested in understanding global health systems and healthcare systems as well as how people view them.

It's a very new major, it's still not super developed at most universities.

Are you excited about heading back to in-person classes?

Usha: I'm very excited, so excited. There are so many little things that you miss out on, like the nods when you're walking to and from class, just being surrounded by people. I definitely miss that. So many people are starting to move back into the area and rooms are starting to get filled in and every day I see someone else moving in and people are doing picnics.

What are some of the biggest struggles you had while in school?

Usha: I moved away from home and so there was a lot of identity unpacking for me and understanding who I was. And that's very cliché to say, but it's very true. Just understanding who I was, what I was doing for me versus what motivations were coming from more of like, "Oh, I have to do this."

I'm a first-generation college student and a low-income student, and so there's a lot of pressure to do really well. And coming into school I really struggled with my major. I realized in the first year that I was doing what I thought I was supposed to be doing. I realized I never stopped and asked myself if this is even something that I want to do.

What have you learned about yourself at this phase of your life?

Usha: One of my favorite quotes that I have really stuck to is, “You grow the most when you're uncomfortable.” And so really pushing myself to be in those uncomfortable situations where I know I'm not familiar that I will struggle with, but I will leave that situation having learned so much about myself. I think that is one of the most important things that I've learned and practiced in the last couple of years.

"I moved away from home and so there was a lot of identity unpacking for me and understanding who I was."

How does nature play a role in your life?

Usha: I love the lake, that is my favorite part of the campus. It's just so calming, there's a view of Chicago skyline from the lake. It’s where I go when I'm super stressed out, when I'm super excited, it's just a place that I like to go to center myself and just feel everything, listen to the water and just that kind of stuff. I try to go as much as I can.

What does your skin care routine look like?

Usha: I wash my face in the morning and at night. I try every night to do my face roller and use a hydrating spray. If I'm going all out, then I'll put on a mask. I'll do certain types of masks if I'm having a certain type of breakout that week.

So how do you balance body image and the comparison game that happens with social media?

Usha: I make sure that if I'm ever on a page where I find myself feeling like I should compare my body to their body, then I simply unfollow it. I want good feelings to be associated with my phone and social media. If I'm ever on a page where I feel bad about something that I see, then I'll just simply unfollow.

What are your post-grad goals?

Usha: I think overall I just want to be happy with whatever I'm doing. That is honestly such a big thing and that is so hard to do. But I think happiness in itself is a whole other topic, understanding that happiness is not the destination, you're never going to be happy if you're looking to get happy.

How’d you pick your university?

Michael: I really wanted to go to Colorado Boulder, but my dad knew I wanted to go there for skiing. I didn’t have academic reasons, so I ended up staying in-state. I’m happy I go to UGA—it’s an awesome school. UGA was always our [football] team as a family.

"My college decisions really were impacted because of having to come out."

Are there any things you left behind when you got to college?

Michael: When I was in high school, I was still in football and I was a whole different person back then than I am now. But at the time, I thought that's who I was.

I knew I was gay, and I didn't fully accept that to myself until I was 16. But I was student body president, and I had all my friends that were on the football team and I didn't want to lose that in any way. So, I just held on to who they all thought I was through the whole time.

My college decisions really were impacted because of having to come out. I didn't want to lose any of the things that I had. But once I did come out, a surprising amount of people were 100% supportive and it didn't bother them whatsoever. It was more in my own head that I was worried about everything.

How does nature factor into your life?

Michael: In my freshman year when I started running, I never got a gym membership. I would only run outside, even in the rain. That was my time to be outdoors and have that connection.

Tell us a little bit about your skin care routine.

Michael: It wasn't until this past January, I started taking steps with skincare. In the shower, I'll wash my face then out of the shower, I'll put on a vitamin C serum, SPF, curl my eyelashes and I’m out the door. If I don't curl them, they're straight down. In middle school, my friend told me, "You need to curl your eyelashes, you can't see." And she curled them for me in class and I could see.

What's your relationship with social media as it relates to your self image?

Michael: Being gay, you're in public settings, and you see an attractive guy, I'd never walk up to them because I'm like, what if they're not gay? So, a lot of the time in the gay community, your first time being judged by a potential boyfriend is on social media, which is so annoying. But that's just the reality.

What are your dreams for the post-grad future?

Michael: After graduation, I might think about trying a different city—all of my friends say they could 100% see me living in New York!

How’d you pick your university?

Jennifer: They offered me a really good scholarship and I've had relatives go to the University of Louisville. It wasn't as scary because I'm still kind of in my hometown, but far enough away from home that I'm not dependent too much on my parents.

What drew you to your major?

Jennifer: I didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew engineering was not for me. I don't like people dying, so I couldn't be a doctor. I like to work with people. I like to be social. It was a toss-up between a business marketing degree and communications because they're ultimately very similar. I have gotten the opportunity to specialize and pick what I want to do, although my general degree is communication.

Are there any unexpected things about college so far?

Jennifer: I will say I expected there to be a lot more parties. I mean, I’m not generally a partier. I like to be in my bed watching Netflix or just relaxing .

It’s easier to build a balance in college than it was in high school, and I think that's just solely because I get to choose my schedule. Becoming independent was probably the biggest thing. I expected it, but I didn't expect how independent I could be and actually decide what's for me.

How does nature play a role in your life?

Jennifer: One of the reasons I've decided to wake up earlier in the morning is because I miss the sunshine, especially the early morning sun—it’s completely different than the afternoon sun. I like getting up and going to take a walk especially when I know I've been exhausted. I will get up early and go take a walk and just let the sun just touch me. It's nice. 

"...I didn't expect how independent I could be and actually decide what's for me."

What do you go to build up your confidence?

Jennifer: Honestly, I go to social media and my closet. I started following new YouTubers that are just like “Hey, this is a day in my life of working out and doing pretty things.” I'm like, “Oh, that makes me feel nice.” I will say when I'm having a bad day I just put on a pretty dress or a pretty outfit then I feel better. The people I follow also have somewhat of a similar style and they inspire me.

What does your skin care routine look like?

Jennifer: I've recently gotten into skincare because growing up I was low income, so skincare was literally getting in the shower and using a bar of soap and getting out the shower. When COVID hit, I learned that I really need to take care of my skin because I got these really dry patches from the masks.

I use a gentle cleanser. Whenever I'm trying to take a little bit of more care of myself, I might do a face mask and put on an oil. I like to keep it real bare bones—just wash my face, use a moisturizer, SPF, and make sure to use some toner especially if I'm wearing makeup. I like to keep it really simple, really clean.

Anything you would say to your freshman self or advice to your future self?

Jennifer: To my freshman self, don't be afraid to follow your gut. I definitely was going to come in as a communications major and I got scared and I changed it. Trust that you're making the right decision. 

To my future self, I hope I'm traveling. I hope I'm living the best life and I'm not too stressed out.

New semester energy is in the air. Grab your back-to-class essentials and share your journey with us @BurtsBees!

See what other students had to say in part two of our Discover U series. 

Discover More

Conscious Beauty Spotlight:

Discover U Part 2

Students share how college has helped them discover who they truly are. 


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