2007-09-14: When A Door Closes...



Guest Starring: Raymond Lee

Summary: After Monica sends in her application, she is invited to the Jaden Cain Foundation's offices for an interview before her paperwork goes through the approval process.

Date It Happened: September 14th, 2007

When A Door Closes…

The Jaden Cain Foundation, New York City

Monica didn't waste any time applying, and once her application was received, it is reviewed quickly. The Jaden Cain Foundation was very young, so it's only starting to bleed into the masses that it existed and it provided educational opportunities for young people. At about a few days' waiting, a representative calls Monica through the contact information in the paperwork, asking if she would like to have a preliminary interview with one of the Foundation's paper pushers. She, of course, accepted and upon accepting, she is given a date and time to head to the Foundation building in downtown New York.

The building had been a new acquisition. It was a historical building, but made modern thanks to some expensive architecture. A marble lobby greets Monica when she heads inside, and upon chatting with the security people manning the front desk, she is asked to go to the 18th floor where her interview will be. The name of her contact is Raymond Lee. Heading up the elevators, she is directed to the secretary's desk, and then she's made to wait a bit in the waiting area in front, which is furnished with leather and mahogany pieces.

Raymond Lee is a middle-aged man dressed in a navy-blue suit, with graying temples and of a slight stature. He's a little on the short side. "Ms. Dawson?" he calls out, walking over and extending a hand. "Raymond Lee. You can call me Ray. Shall we?" He gestures to an office.

Monica pulled out her best clothes, the clothes Nana had originally helped her purchase for church. Black slacks and a peach blouse, her hair left loose to hang around her shoulders, while it's very nice, there's still something of an element of shabby to it. Clearly Monica doesn't exactly have much opportunity to hit Macy's. She's brought a portfolio tucked neatly under her arm; a second copy of her submission paperwork as well as an essay and some photographs of home. She wasn't sure what she might be needing, but her smile projects confidence as she shakes Ray's hand. "Nice to meet you, Ray. I'm Monica. Please." She indicates her willingness to follow, unable to keep her eyes from straying around the front area of the floor to take in the artwork, and the air of corporate. "Thank you for seeing me so quickly."

"Mr. Cain's Foundation is still a work in progress. We're still getting the grants and approvals in, but those are in its final stages. But it's not unheard of to have early applications come in." Raymond opens the door to the office - it looks more like a conference room, actually, with large windows overlooking the streets of New York. He gestures for her to have a seat, and once she does, he takes his own right across the long, wooden table from her. "So, according to your application you're a relatively recent transplant to New York. How is it working out so far? Do you like the city?"

"It's…very crowded." Monica says, though her smile seems to indicate it as something she's fascinated with. She smoothes out her slacks as she takes her seat. "I mean, I used to think N'awlins had a lot of people, but it's really a drop in the bucket in comparison. I like how things are all sort of built into each other here. And there's always something to do. Still getting used to the weather, though."

"Yeah that can get pretty rough," Raymond says. "The winters especially. I hope you're prepared for it." There is an amiable smile, and then the man flips open her paperwork to take a look at it. "Your essay mentions that you and your family are Katrina survivors. I understand you had to drop out of school. You're very young to take on that responsibility….being the sole breadwinner. Was it always this way, or were these measures you had to take post-Katrina?"

"Well, my family was never rich or anything like that." Monica says honestly. "I've had jobs before, through highschool and such so I could have my own pocket money. But when my mother passed," Her essay did in fact mention her mother drowning when the levys broke, "There just wasn't anybody else. My brother Damon's still a kid, and my grandmother's well past retirement age. We had to use up what remained of my college fund to repair our house - it flooded about three feet or so - and I went to work."

"My condolences," Ray tells her sympathetically. "It must have been very difficult." He leans back against his seat, and sets his fingertips on the table. "I understand your aim to get a scholarship through us is to use it for college. Would you mind telling me about your experiences in academics?" Essentially he's poking around her academic past - what sort of student she is. She seems to be a hard worker, did that translate to her education too?

"My family was real particular about making sure I got a good education." Monica says earnestly. She leans forward as she speaks. "Even with the money that was saved, I still had to be able to be accepted, and that meant paying attention to my academics, getting good grades. I did manage some college, and I was doing real well." But then the hurricane. She adds quickly, "I'm sure I could get my transcripts sent if they're needed. I mean, they would be if I was actually submitting an application for NYU. Which is where I'd hope to go."

"That would be ideal, yes, Monica. We would like a copy of your transcripts. Were you active at all with school activities? Drama Club, the environment?" Extracurriculars this time. Raymond smiles from where he is, especially when Monica leans forward to tell him about her academic achievements. "The Honors Society?"

"I was pretty consistent about being on Honor Roll." Monica says. "I mean, there are subjects you're good and others you got work a little bit more in - I liked glee club. I sang with my church. In freshmen year I did dance corps, but it just took up too much time. It was a lot of fun, though." Monica smiles at the memory. "Most of my community service, I did with our church. Nana - my grandmother - that was real important to her."

Community service. That was a good sign, though Raymond tries not to show it on his face. He glances down at the paperwork again, and looks up towards Monica. "I know you've come in pretty early." He steeples his fingers a little bit on the table. "So what do you intend to do with a college education, Monica? Dreams, aspirations? What degree do you intend to get? I know one of the most important things for you right now is to support your family, but is there something more?"

And that's where she hesitates. But the best policy is honesty. "I was undecided when I started at LSU." she admits. "And I'm still kinda finding myself. The practical side of me sort of leans toward business management and such. But I'm thinking maybe - maybe something along the lines of sociology. I want to help people." It almost sounds like news to herself. "I'd like it to be something I can take back to N'awlins and have it be something I can help the community with, at any rate. I just want to do some good."

"I see." Raymond nods, and writes a couple of notes in her paperwork. "You work for the Madison Bistro now, yes?" He looks up at her and smiles. "As an assistant manager. You seem to be a people person to me, Monica. Were there any instances in your job, or any jobs you held in the past where you had to deal with something difficult, or unsavory? How did you deal with them?"

"Yes, I'm an assistant manager there." she says, and pauses only a moment to recollect. "Back home I worked for a fast food jaunt called - now don't laugh now - Burger Bonanza. I mean, I was grateful, because so many people didn't have jobs, but it was a real stretch. And I thought - I still do think I was meant for more than burger slinging. I put in for the management program, but even though I got good scores during testing, I was rejected because I didn't have a car and I had too many folks depending on me. I guess they didn't think I could handle it. But you know, when you get lemons, you just have to make lemonade. I brought the problem home and we talked about it and I made the decision to come here. Biggest decision of my life. You just have to figure out a way to turn it around when things are negative. No one's going to do it for you."

There is a pause, but Raymond nods - though if it was approving of her answer, or just nodding in acknowledgment, no one really knows. He can smile but be poker-faced at the same time. "I know you're trying to make ends meet here, and there, and I understand it's very challenging. New York isn't exactly the cheapest place in the world to live." He inclines his head. "So business management or sociology, hm? Have you started looking at schools around here? Which ones would you apply to if, hypothetically, money is no object?"

"NYU." Monica's definitely clear about that. "They have wonderful programs all around, the campus is accessible, and to be honest, I've been attending free lectures on anything that's accessible to the public. I've made some friends - Elena Gomez met me at a lecture, she's the one who suggested I apply to the foundation. I think in either direction I wanted to go - or even if it turned out I wanted something else entirely, NYU offers the best quality and diversity." At this Monica sits up ramrod straight, her firm enthusiasm for her dream university readily apparent.

"NYU is one of the oldest private universities in the United States." Raymond looks a little surprised, considering most of the applicants he had interviewed, when asked that particular question, have all stated desires to go to one of the Ivy League universities in the state - like Cornell or Columbia. "It's not Ivy, mind, but it's got a reputation of its own." When Monica does the name drop, his face does reflect recognition, not for Elena herself, but who her father happens to be. "Ah, the Chairman's daughter." It sounds more prestigious than it actually is, people are still wondering why the hell Jaden Cain picked Ramon Gomez as the Chairman of Evosoft. He smiles. "Sounds like you're meeting some of the more connected people already." Who knows what this would do to Monica's chances, but who knows? New York ran on corporate nepotism. It came with being a city ran by Vanderbilts and Morgans back during the railroad days.

"So now that I've hammered you with my questions," Ray teases. "Are there any questions you would like to ask me?"

"I'd want to know what the Foundation's expectations are, should I actually receive any financial assistance." Monica puts forth. "I imagine there's a GPA requirement, but is there anything else?" Then abashedly, "I only met her because we happened to be at the same lecture. She was very nice." There's a blink, though. Elena's the chairman's daughter? That's clearly a surprise.

"Well like most scholarship programs," Raymond begins. This time, he leans forward and curls his fingers around each other. "There is a GPA requirement, but I believe this was already stated in the brochures that have been sent to you. At least a 3.5 GPA would be necessary for you to keep your scholarship. It seems simple enough, for other universities, but you did express your intentions of applying to NYU." Which is a challenging school when it came to Academics. "Not to mention your job and your other obligations. There's also a community service requirement, preferrably something that promotes philanthropy or education. Around fifty hours for every year you decide to stay in the program." Which isn't too bad. "Usually when I'm asked, I recommend joining a sorority or fraternity for easy access to those opportunities. It's easier to go through the school for those, instead of finding it on your own." He grins. "Next?"

"I don't think I'll have any trouble finding a community service outlet." She considers. "I don't think I have any more questions, not at this time. I just feel really blessed even to be able to have the opportunity."

"You're very welcome, Monica." Raymond stands up. "Well, I don't have any more questions. But we'll certainly keep in touch." He extends his hand across the table to shake Monica's hand. "Come on, I'll walk you out. Thank you for taking the time to see us today, I know how busy you are."

Monica accepts the handshake, keeping that confidant smile, even if her internal monologue is a lot more to the tune of 'ohmygod, ohmygod, I must have been terrible!' Still, she offers her farewells in the lobby, and sets off for home and to make calls about getting her transcript sent.

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