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University City Middle Schooler Hopes to be Next Food Network Star

Brittany Woods student Jamilah Irby makes cake creations.

Some people look at a cup of ice soda as either half empty or half full. Brittany Woods eighth grader Jamilah Irby looks at the cup and sees a colorful picture of a vast landscape with clouds, a river, and glaciers, her father said.

According to her parents, Jamiliah's unique way of looking at the cup portrays the artist that Jamilah has been, even as a young child. Jamilah has had an affinity for art since she was five. Her mother Emily Irby said she has a ton of her daughter's pictures at home that she's collected over the years.

When Jamilah was younger she asked her mom what else she could do with art and her mom suggested a medley of ideas ranging from designer to graphic artist. It was about this time that Jamilah became intrigued by the cakes that her mom was decorating. Her mom subsequently enrolled her in cake design classes at Michael's Arts and Crafts. From there, Jamilah not only acquired a new outlet for her creative talents, but according to her mom, was also told by the cake design instructor that she was the best in her class.

“Now she actually has more clientele than I do,” Emily Irby said. “She is more into designer cakes because she has artistic abilities. She has really taken off and gets a lot of requests for weddings and upcoming events.”

Even though she is only 13 years old, Jamilah is already learning how to run a business. She has her own cake decorating business where she showcases her icing designs atop her own edible canvas and sells them for profit.

Jamilah is also a consistent honor roll recipient, and earned straight A's during the third quarter of the 2010-2011 school year. She was also recently invited to participate in the Wyman Teen Leadership Program, a five year camp for students in grades 7-12 which focuses on teaching students how to become leaders.

Jamilah usually decorates about three cakes a month and her favorite cakes to work on are tier cakes because they are basically like a canvas which give her a lot more room to be creative.

“I love creating my own style of cakes,” Jamilah said.  She uses a variety of sweets and sugars to make cakes of all shapes and sizes. She recently made her best friend a truck cake and a skateboard cake.

Given her penchant for making cakes, it's only natural that Jamilah would love her sweets. She likes all different kinds of candy.  As for a favorite flavor, it is pretty much lemon anything for Jamilah, she said.

While Jamilah has long term goals of expanding her cake decorating business on a much wider scale she also would like to be a nurse after she finishes college. She said she really cares about people and always loves to give, “a helping hand.”

Jamilah's mom  can attest to her daughter's caring personality. Emily Irby said Jamilah is sweet, caring, respectful, and always willing to share, even her toys when she was younger.

A story that exemplifies all these traits came around Christmas of 2008. Emily Irby had recently lost her job and had to move the family to a smaller place. Emily Irby had to tell Jamilah that even though Christmas was coming there wouldn't be any presents that year because the family was trying to survive. Nonetheless, the family still upheld traditional Christmas customs and put up a tree even though there were no presents under it.

One day Emily Irby became confused because she couldn't figure out the origins of  a mysterious box which rested under tree. On Christmas morning, Jamilah handed the box to her parents and said “this is for you.” In the box was 32 dollars that Jamilah had saved up to help her family.

“She actually did the giving that year and wasn’t upset about not receiving anything that year,” Emily Irby said. 

Jamilah  dreams of one day being on  the cover of a popular food magazine or having her own television show on the Food Network. But her goal for now is pretty simple.

“I just hope that when I get older and more into cakes I will be known as Jamilah the cake decorator not as Jamilah the one that brings cupcakes to class.”

KlarkeKent June 04, 2011 at 01:32 AM
An engaging portrait that captures the spirit, ambition and character of a young lady who is sure to leave an impression in the field of culinary arts one day. Nice!
Bernadette June 04, 2011 at 03:46 AM
Way to go Jamilah! I am very proud of you & know firsthand how amazing you are. Thank you sharing your talents with my family.
Emily June 05, 2011 at 12:39 AM
Jamilah is truly an amazing young lady!!

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