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Global Academy senior balances high school and entrepreneurship

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This is a split photo showing the Tori Anne Photography logo and Victoria Poulin posing with her camera in the desert.Victoria Poulin’s love for photography started when she was a child. She’d use her iPhone 7 Plus to do photoshoots with family and friends. As her interest and talent grew, she quickly realized it was time for an upgrade. 

“One year for Christmas, I just asked for a camera. I really liked it, and I got really good,” she said. 

She spent hours watching YouTube tutorial videos, learning how to operate the camera and different ways to capture a great photo. As she got more comfortable, Poulin started looking for jobs. However, her young age proved to be a barrier, because many clients were hesitant to trust her with their big life events. Poulin didn’t let that discourage her. She decided to do a number of free photoshoots in the beginning to build her portfolio. When she entered high school, she created her own business, Tori Anne Photography,  which she’s operated for the last four years. 

“I love to capture the best day of peoples’ lives. I thought about being an EMT, but I could never do it. I could never see people on one of the worst days of their life. Now I get to do the exact opposite, which is what I love about it,” Poulin said.

For her senior year of high school, Poulin enrolled in GPS Global Academy. The online K-12 school allows her to finish her credits and graduate early. Due to the flexibility of online schooling, she can also travel the country doing photography. 

"I can do school on my own time. I can make it a priority when I need to. I travel so much for work. It's way easier to just be in my car on a laptop, hop on a hotspot and do my work," she said. 

A photo of a couple standing on a rocky hill in front of the ocean.Poulin specializes in weddings and couples photography. A portion of her clientele comes from social media, where she has gained quite a following over the past few years. More than 21,000 people follow her business on Instagram. One of her videos even went viral,  gaining more than 40 million views.

“That’s really helped my account, and Instagram pays me to post now,” she said. 

Her entrepreneurial experience also plays a role in her schooling. She’s taking a Business Internship course through Global Academy, which allows students to earn credit while working a job or pursuing a career. Scott Lymer is the instructor.

“There are many students that go to school that want to work or need to work, and the Business Internship course is a great opportunity to earn credit for something they want to do or need to do,” he said.

Lymer has been working as a teacher for Global Academy since 2008 and considers it a great place to work.

“I have seen Global Academy grow and change to meet the needs of our students and parents,” he said.

Students enrolled in the Business Internship course must complete 128 hours of work. They also complete assignments, reflecting on their experience and the skills that they’ve learned. Lymer believes there are many benefits to the program.

“These students are developing skills such as time management skills, customer service skills, money skills, saving skills and business skills for the future while earning money,” Lymer said.

In Poulin’s case, she speaks specifically about her experience as an entrepreneur, which is very unique. Few students her age are able to launch a business while balancing high school.

“It takes a special person to want to start and grow a business. It is not easy to start a business, but if you have the motivation, drive and ability to create something from nothing, it can be a great career/opportunity,” Lymer said.

A young girl dressed in her graduation cap and gown poses for the camera.After graduating high school, Poulin plans to do her business full-time. Her parents, who are also entrepreneurs, fully support her dreams. She believes that owning a business has really helped her grow and learn more about herself. 

“It’s definitely helped me grow up in a way. I have something to be proud of, and I know what I’ve accomplished. I don’t think I ever have to stress about finding a job or my next step,” she said. 

As for her advice for other young aspiring entrepreneurs, Poulin believes you can do anything that you put your mind to.

“If you have a goal, don’t hesitate. Just do it. When it’s really hard, push yourself harder to get to your end goal,” she said.

To learn more about GPS Global Academy, visit the school’s website or enroll today!

By Kailey Latham, Photos by Victoria Poulin