Skip to Main Content
HBA · Priya Baliga

The Journey Here: Priya Baliga

May 14, 2024


When I was eight years old, I wanted to be a contestant on American Idol. My sister was quick to inform me that I wasn’t an American citizen, so that wouldn’t work. I’m still not sure if that was my biggest roadblock, but regardless, that dream faded away. Suddenly, I was going to be that librarian that holds the picture book during story time, then a world-famous actor, then the leader of the biggest hip-hop crew in Brooklyn. Then an author, and even a journalist. I was never a kid who could stay on one plan for very long - I had too many ideas for the life I wanted to build.

Tenth grade was a harsh reality check for me. People were starting to settle into science or arts focused courses, and there was no predetermined line of study for a breakdancing- restaurant managing-picture book reading-journalist. At fifteen years old, I wasn’t ready to confine myself to a subject for the rest of my life, as I thought I was being asked to. I spoke to my dad, and he pointed out business. I asked him what the career path entailed, to which he responded “everything.”

Over the next two years, I explored business further through DECA, speaking to older family friends, and choosing business centric courses. I felt a natural pull towards being a big voice in whatever I did, albeit a little too loudly sometimes. My parents used to say that they always pegged me for a business kid, and I’m yet to decide how I should take that.

Nevertheless, I quickly discovered that business was the path for me. It’s just such a versatile subject area: from marketing to finance, you can be as artistic or mathematical as you want. I was attracted to that space in between, and I decided that whatever I did with my life, I wanted to do that behind the scenes work of building it. That’s what business offered me.

Ivey was close to the top of my list from the drop. I explored all the top schools in Ontario for business, but I’ve always been one for applied learning, and Ivey offered that unique case- based method and real-world support that I just wasn’t catching from other schools.

At this point, I’m sixteen years old and have finally figured out my life path and the route I was taking to get where I wanted to go. I’m feeling good about myself. It’s all fun and games in theory, but when application season rolled around, I fell down more university Reddit holes than I’m ready to admit. My top google searches were about acceptance rates, and I was feeling absolutely overwhelmed. Everyone was raving about their entrepreneurial ventures on their Ivey applications, and here I was with an essay about theatre and camp counselling. Now, as someone who came out the other end of those harrowing few months, if there was one piece of advice I could give impending first years, it’s this: DO NOT click on the Reddit link. It’s not an appropriate representation of the position that you or anyone else is in. Don’t take what you see online as law. While it may feel like everyone’s miles ahead, what puts you behind is getting caught in that trap. Coming into my first year as an AEO student and meeting so many incredible people, I realized that Ivey is all about everything that I love about business. It’s about bringing together a group of incredibly unique and versatile individuals and turning their diverse backgrounds into a cohesive perspective for the future. If you have a startup, that’s genuinely so cool. If you directed your school play, that’s a super admirable story to tell. If you were captain of your Lego robotics team, you have a crazy skill set in the conference room. Writing about how I personally function as a leader is what got me here, and that emphasis on versatility and diverse thinking is what affirmed business being the right path for me.

So where am I going to be once I graduate from Ivey? I genuinely couldn’t tell you. I’ve recently developed an interest in finance, so that'll go somewhere. I’ve also gotten deep into the culinary world lately, and there’s a million ways that my field of study will support that. Maybe I’ll be a first-round contestant on a Canadian version of American Idol. All I know is that it’s okay to wonder. The journey here hasn’t been linear, but I’m confident now that I’ll build something for my life that can stand straight.