Student Spotlight: Brittany Hostetler
Sitting on a one-way flight from Cincinnati to Rome, Brittany Hostetler was uncertain if she was doing the right thing.
The Indiana University East junior business administration major was on a solo trip to travel through France, Switzerland, and Italy for the next three and a half weeks. She was traveling abroad to fulfill her dream to go to France and to develop her business plan for a French inspired bakery she started during her New Venture Business course at IU East.
The 19 year-old Camden, Ohio, resident knew that now was the time for her to take this trip. In May 2012, she will graduate with honors with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. She’s also planning a wedding with her fiancé, James Lutz, for next summer.
“I love baking. I’m not a professional baker by any means, but this was something I needed to do,” Hostetler said. “I realized I could turn something I love doing into a business and eventually my career.”
As a home schooled student through her freshman year of high school, Hostetler said her parents, Steve and Laura Hostetler, have always operated their own businesses. She never doubted that she would follow in their footsteps; she was just uncertain where exactly that path would take her. Growing up on a farm, Hostetler first wanted to be a veterinarian but later decided that animals were a hobby and not a future career.
While in high school, she was enrolled in the Post Secondary Enrollment Option through Preble Shawnee High School and simultaneously took college courses full-time through Sinclair Community College. She also worked at Vonderhaar Farms.
Hostetler transferred to IU East when she graduated to complete her bachelor’s degree. It was in Tim Scale’s New Venture Business course that she decided that she wanted a bakery of her own; forming her business plan around a sugar cookie company.
“Baking is something I love to do enough that I could see myself turning it into my career. I made plans to expand the bakery and have a wider variety of products as the business grows, but I knew this is a product I can make well and it has always been a favorite of my family and friends,” Hostetler said.
Scales is a lecturer of business and director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Center for Economic Education. He will also be Hostetler’s faculty advisor as she uses her experience abroad and business plan to complete her senior thesis for the Honors Program.
“When I met Brittany she appeared uncertain of what she wanted to do with her future. In the past year it has become meaningful to assist with making Brittany’s dreams evolve as she has lead entrepreneurial workshops, spoken at economic conferences, participated in SIFE competitions and experienced global reality,” said Scales. “Brittany has demonstrated in my view the true meaning of making the most of her educational opportunities.”
Hostetler worked with another faculty member at IU East to plan the trip. Patty Crawford, career and experiential learning coordinator, taught Hostetler in her Business and Society course during the spring 2011 semester. Crawford said Hostetler’s work-ethic, intelligence, and drive to be successful were all shining bright, but above all she showed a great interest in experiencing multiculturalism, culinary arts, and traveling.
“She and I met a few times and discussed her interests in culinary arts and her desire to travel abroad to France. Brittany is mature beyond her years, as a 19 year old from Preble County, she was homeschooled and grew up in a rural environment. Her desire to take a leap and venture to Europe was impressive,” Crawford said. “She ruled out a structured study-abroad because she wanted to learn about herself and expand her entrepreneurial interests in French culinary arts. It became clear that she wanted to experience travel and culture on her own terms.”Inspired to learn as much as possible, Hostetler decided to travel to Europe on her own to develop her knowledge and skills.
In France, she took cooking courses at L’atelier Cuisine de Patricia and La Cuisine Paris and learned how to make macaroons and charlotte russe, a molded dessert with custard, meringue and fruit.
Hostetler toured museums and cities throughout Paris, Normandy, Brittany, and Lyon in France. Her adventure continued to Switzerland where she visited Geneva, Montreux, Interlaken, and Zurich. She concluded her trip in Italy in the cities of Florence and Rome.
“I had multiple reasons for taking this trip, but one reason included exploring the world of pastries and baked goods a little more. After this trip, I made a list of all the baked goods and pastries I want to try to make. It’s hard for me to decide which one I will try to make first! Every time I get the chance to learn something new about baking or visit a baking shop, I just get excited. It’s this excitement that makes me realize this is really what I want to do,” Hostetler said.
While on the trip, Hostetler wrote a blog for her family and friends to share her experiences.
“Brittany ventured off for a month of solo traveling around Western Europe, participating in culinary workshops and visiting historical sites. She met young people from all over the world,” Crawford said. “In my opinion, this is the exact definition of experiential learning. I believe this experience allowed Brittany to see the world in a new light and to also develop further confidence in her own interests and abilities. There is nothing more empowering than following a dream; traveling to a foreign land, solo, equipped with her own personal goal: to learn and grow. “
This fall semester, Hostetler will work with Scales to continue to develop the business plan and her senior honors thesis. Her initial plans are to visit with high school students to perhaps inspire their plans for the future.
“I know how much of this had an impact on me and I just want to encourage other students that if they have the opportunity or the time, to take a trip like this, they should take advantage of it,” Hostetler said.
One of the most valuable lessons Hostetler said she has learned from the trip, is that taking smart risks and putting yourself out there can be very scary, but it’s those moments we grow from the most. “Every time I have pushed myself outside of my comfort zone I hated it at first, but I have always grown from it and I have never regretted it,” she said.