Scholarship helps student get involved, start cake business

Think fast – what does a neurobiology student and Spanish minor do to relax? If you answered ‘start a cake business’ – you must know University of Cincinnati alumnus James Avant, IV – who turned a hobby into a thriving business, even before walking across the stage to receive his degree.

“My company is called OCD Cakes, because I found baking to be a great way to break the ice and get people more comfortable talking about mental health," Avant said. "I have OCD and the process of baking is also very therapeutic to me – in fact, I wanted to go to culinary school before I chose UC.”

Avant began his studies as part of the Emerging Ethnic Engineers or E3 program, which improves retention and graduation rates for minorities who are underrepresented in engineering fields. It didn’t take long for Avant to succeed, and he was rewarded through a Darwin T. Turner scholarship made possible by philanthropic contributions to UC.

OCD Cakes - Tree of cupcakes with bowties

“It is amazing to consider how much of an impact scholarships have had on my career at UC and life in general. To know that someone has invested in me provides a boost in confidence, but also works as motivation to prove the investment is being used well – in the way I would want someone to use a gift from me,” Avant said.

The support enabled Avant to pursue other opportunities outside class. In addition to founding OCD Cakes, he worked in the Office of the Provost and President’s Office, building a network of students, faculty and administrators.

“I feel I have a responsibility to give back because of what I’ve received here," he said. "That’s why I want to say 'thank you' to everyone who donates to UC. You made my experience possible, and there are students all over this university who feel the same way. Thank you so much for your generosity and support – I’ll never forget it.”

To learn more about Avant’s inspirational cake business, visit ocdcakes.

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