While the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted many students’ summer plans, Sarah Santiago was busier than ever.
The North Gwinnett High School graduate and Class of 2024 Presidential Scholar in Georgia State University’s Honors College spent it starting her first small business with her older brother. The two started last year developing and perfecting an energy supplement—a gummy, fruity, one-inch cube—that would be effective and tasty.
“My brother and I both enjoy working out,” Santiago said. “And sometimes, we take a pre-workout supplement, but we didn’t really enjoy the taste of what was available. So, my brother said, ‘Let’s start a business.’”
The two hatched a plan and began researching ingredients. Once they developed a recipe and tested it on their friends and family, they still had to figure out how to build a website, establish a sales tax account, register their company as an LLC, find investors and ship their energy gummies without them melting in the summer heat.
“Definitely, the biggest hurdle was finding a protective coating to put on the gummy so that it wouldn’t feel gross or taste gross when you bit into it,” Santiago said.
With entrepreneurship under her belt, Santiago said she’s ready to start life as an undergraduate. She plans to study biomedical science and enterprise, with hopes of one day starting her own orthodontic practice.
“I wanted to have that business experience, so I can use it later when I have a career,” she said.
Santiago’s plan to become an orthodontist wasn’t always so clear. When she began thinking about college, she briefly considered art—one of her favorite subjects in high school.
“I couldn’t imagine pursuing it as a career, because I couldn’t imagine having people telling me what to correct,” she said.
She also considered medicine. Her dad is a physician’s assistant and her mother a nurse.“I’ve heard so many stories that I thought I wouldn’t like that,” she said.
She decided on orthodontics after getting braces during her junior year of high school and shadowing a dentist during her senior year. She said the idea checked so many boxes: She could run her own business. She could work with children and youth. She would provide a necessary service, and she would still be expressing her love of art.
“Orthodontistry is an art because you are working with aesthetics,” she said.