Yrbenka Arthus / Via yrbenkaarthus.com!Dear-Essence/c1yqq/56b221c60cf2b4e0b617d889 Dear Essence, Who would have ever thought a magazine would change my life forever? Last spring, I was on the fence about my future aspirations and what I wanted to do after graduation. I found myself interested in fashion, photography, beauty and black women's culture. Oftentimes, I would look to Essence magazine for inspirational stories of black women's success in business, helpful style tips and skincare regimens for black women. I fell in love with the magazine—how the colors of photos complemented one another, the themes and columns present in every issue and how the editor always managed to choose the perfect cover shot every single time. I wanted to learn more about what it took to create Essence. It hit me then. My mother had always told me, "If you don't ask, you'll never know." I had absolutely nothing to lose, so I began my search. It took me hours to find, but when I finally came across the email address of Vanessa DeLuca, Editor In Chief of Essence, I couldn't help but send my life's story her way.I explained to her that I was recently accepted into Rutgers' Communication and Information school, and that I admired Essence for being one of the few successful publications tailored to the most overlooked, most oppressed demographic—the black woman. "I know your schedule is insane," I wrote, "but I would love the chance to meet with you for a day of shadowing or to simply discuss your story of success."It was a few weeks before I heard back and 2 months before I a date was set, but sometime in early April, I found myself in the waiting room of Essence's New York City office. Moments later, Vanessa DeLuca and I sat in her simply decorated but very cozy office chatting away like an old mentor and her mentee. A 50-year-old woman with a short buzzed cut and raw face, light lipstick and southern-belle-on-a-Sunday dress, Mrs. Deluca was not what I'd expected. To make a long story short, she told me not to be afraid to fail, to practice my craft to perfection and emphasized on the importance of patience. There were more downs than ups leading to the peak of her career, and she even admitted that she had plans to retire and pursue writing a novel down the line. "Nothing is permanent," she said. My jaw dropped when she told me her mid 20's consisted of quitting her job to move back home with her parents and work as an unpaid intern at a small magazine, but I was comforted to know all of her efforts led her to her dream job at a top publication. I left that office with a signed magazine, a huge smile and a weight lifted off of my shoulders. After meeting Vanessa DeLuca, I felt a strong sense of motivation and sought to network more within my areas of interest. On the bus ride home, flipping through the pages of the magazine she'd signed for me, I did exactly that. The man sitting next to me happened to be an executive producer at CBS and overheard my phone call with my mother. He was inspired by my eagerness and excitement, and I will now be interning with CBS news in the fall. So Essence, to you I owe a million thank yous. You've helped yet another black girl find her way.