The Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy Travels to Des Moines

Already three weeks into the fall semester, the first class of the Bucksbaum Early Entrance Academy took a field trip to Des Moines, Iowa. The trip was an opportunity to continue building a sense of community among the students, while introducing them to the exciting urban renewal underway. 

The following are a few of their reflections:

Our first stop on the trip was the Des Moines Botanical Garden. We were fortunate enough to get a tour of their new outdoor space which housed lots of beautiful wildlife. We also met Laurie Belin, the daughter of philanthropists Connie and David Belin, after whom the Belin-Blank Honors Center is named. It was nice learning about her parents and the other philanthropists who funded our program in order to better understand their goals and motives. The meeting was very laid-back as we reminisced on the history of the center and the academy, especially when Susan Assouline fought to hold back tears when showing her appreciation for all that the Belins have done throughout the years. We then had lunch at The Trellis Café, a restaurant associated with the Des Moines Botanical Garden, which had delicious food and provided a good opportunity for all of us to mingle.

Our second stop in Des Moines was Raygun, self-described as “The Greatest Store in the Universe.” Raygun was founded by Mike Draper in 2005 when he experienced what most people would consider a failure: rejection from graduate school. Without a professional plan, he started selling t-shirts on his college campus as a way to pay his bills; however, he soon developed a passion for entertaining people through the messages on his t-shirts. His passion, coupled with hard work and dedication, led him to grow his business from a box on the street corner, to a store so successful that Hillary Clinton deigned to visit it. In addition to his inspiring story, Mike willingly shared his biggest piece of advice: success is 90% contingent on dependability, and 10% contingent on talent. Mike’s story was immensely inspiring, and his advice invaluable, making our visit to his store an educational, encouraging experience.

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