By Elani Casillas, Cohort 21 (Instagram: @elanisphotography)
Elani is a current apprentice at Prodigy Coffeehouse, who hails from the Northeast Park Hill/Clayton area and joined Prodigy in September. These are her words and personal reflection about her connection to coffee.
Dear Grandma Mary,
Being in the coffee industry makes me feel a lot closer to you. As a kid, I remember getting ready for school in the morning, and you would be waiting for me in the kitchen, drinking your coffee with your sweets. I remember sitting with you and you asking me if I'd like a cup of coffee while watching sci-fi movies together before I left for school. I will treasure these memories forever.
You would be so proud of who I am becoming. I am a hard-working, strong, independent person. I am proudly from Denver, Colorado, the Northeast Park Hill/Clayton area. At this point in my life, I am freshly out of high school and now working towards completing my apprenticeship at the Prodigy Coffee House. I was just certified by the Specialty Coffee Association in the foundations of espresso making. I am also striving towards schooling and programs that support my cosmetology and photography aspirations.
In my short period of time at Prodigy, I have learned a few things about myself. I am learning how to be more independent and advocate for myself. I am learning about what belonging to a community means, and how I want to take full advantage of this experience and be able to make it my own. I bring the best energy and attitude to work, and even on my worst days, I still find ways to bring a smile or laughter to everyone around me. I want to expand my knowledge while knowing I can handle all the responsibilities I have to juggle.
For the first time in a long time, I see myself stepping outside my comfort zone. I am usually uncomfortable with change and meeting new people. A challenge I have is being able to make eye contact with the customers. For a while, I struggled with the transition from school to adult life, but this experience has re-framed for me what learning can look like. It’s important for me to get a new point of view on life and see what the real world holds for me.
One thing I never want to forget is to see the bigger picture meaning. I don't want to be nearsighted, to where I'm being told that there is not much more I can strive for anymore when there is a whole world out there for me and everyone to see. In high school, a teacher said to me, “Even on your worst days, pick one good thing that has happened to you and make that the highlight of your day,” and this has stuck with me ever since. This quote reminds me not to dwell on things that are out of my control and to allow the small things to brighten my day.
In five years, I see myself as a business owner. I want to learn the business side of things so I can be my own boss one day, whether that is in cosmetology (hair and nails) or in photography. I want my photography to take people to new places and show them the possibilities of our imagination.
To you and all the people who have supported me along the way, thank you!