At their assembly on September 22, Upper School students had the opportunity to hear from WIS alum Petrushka Bazin Larsen, Class of 2000, about her path to opening Sugar Hill Creamery with her husband in 2017. One of the first things she advised the students to do was to pay attention to their interests, and then follow where those interests lead them.
While in high school, Petrushka was very interested in photography, so she decided to study photography at NYU. While there, she became intrigued by the intersection of art and community, which led her to curating and organizing art exhibitions around New York City. As she started curating more exhibitions, Petrushka decided to get a Masters degree in curatorial practices from California College of the Arts (CCA) in San Francisco. Unfortunately, because she graduated during the 2008 recession, Petrushka soon realized that there were not many job opportunities, so she worked as a server for some time, where she met her husband, Nick.
Eventually, she became Program Director at the Laundromat Project, a non-profit organization committed to building resilient neighborhoods using art, art making, and culture as platforms for meaningful exchanges between New York residents. Most recently, Petrushka served as Vice President for Programs & Education at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum, where she organized exhibitions of contemporary art.
When deciding to open Sugar Hill Creamery, Petrushka and Nick thought long and hard about how their interests could meet the needs of their community: “Before we opened in 2017, there wasn’t any place in Brooklyn to hang out and have ice cream that wasn’t Baskin Robbins. We saw an opening for a space that could foster community. Our mutual love of connecting people, honoring culture, and creating conversation — all of these are now combined. Sugar Hill Creamery is a representation of all of those interests.”
When asked about the role WIS played in her journey to where she is today, Petrushka explained, “Everything I do is informed by what I did in the past. I think of every life experience as an opportunity. I have so many vivid memories of my childhood at WIS. The cultivation of learning at WIS — and having the safety and space to explore my interests — that was a fundamental element of who I am today.”
Petrushka left the students with the following advice: “Everything that you’re doing — all the conversations with classmates, building relationships with teachers — all of it is a foundational experience. Be sure to honor your interests. Generally, that question of what you want to do when you grow up stops after grad school, but I don’t think it should stop. You’re not defined by a thought you had five years ago. That question should not stop. Don’t be afraid to pursue your interests, or change your path.”