Freshman Meghan Sharkus owned her own company before she legally could vote, so I wasn’t terribly surprised to meet an energetic young woman the day before fall break who said she’s “too busy for my own good.” That’s pretty normal for a freshman in the midst of their first midterms.
Less normal are Sharkus’ accomplishments before she even arrived at St. Thomas: The aforementioned business, ExpressionMed, is dedicated to improving the education, design appeal and safety of insulin kits for children with diabetes. Sharkus developed her ideas over a summer at the University of Pennsylvania and is now on the brink of fully hitting the market after the business incorporated last summer.
“I thought this was something I would put on the back burner until after I graduated and come back to it,” Sharkus said. “[People at University of Pennsylvania] encouraged me to get going now. I basically said, ‘I’m 16; that’s not a thing.’ They just said, ‘Oh, it’s a thing.’”
Inspired by a childhood friend who dealt with the struggles and stigma of an insulin kit, Sharkus “thought I could do something about this” and plans to dedicate a large portion of her business’ profit to sending children with diabetes to summer camps and to telling their stories. ExpressionMed also recently won the undergraduate division of the St. Thomas Fowler Business Concept Challenge.
On top of her budding business, the Oregon, Wisconsin, native is tackling the same things her classmates are: trying to decide on a major, enjoying extracurricular activities (PULSE dancing, especially) and not sleeping in all the time now that mom’s not around to wake them up. The Newsroom caught up with Sharkus to talk best-ever gifts, replenishing the bread supply and concert lightning strikes.
What’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
My friend Maddie is two years younger than me … and ended up “mom-ing” me through my entire senior year. … For graduation she got all her friends really nice bracelets, cliche girly things, and got me an emergency college kit. Socks, scissors, paper clips, pens, tape. I have used every single one of those things in the first week. I had a shower rack and it was zip tied and I’m thinking, “I did not pack scissors. But Maddie did!” … At first, everyone had all these cute things and she got me a pack of socks and office supplies. She was like, “You’re gonna need them.” I packed for college, thought I was fine. I was not fine. I needed everything. That was probably the best gift ever.
If I gave you $100 to spend in the next hour, what would you spend it on?
Well, we’re out of bread, so that would be part of it. … I’ve learned to be pretty content with what I have, but if I had an hour to spend it … I would probably find a friend and a five-star restaurant and spend way too much on food. I’ve always wanted to try that. You always see pictures of little, like, a carrot, with some sort of garnish, and that’s like $30. If I had money like that to frivolously spend I would go to a five-star restaurant and order something ridiculous.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to?
I’ve only been to one concert, unless you count going to [Saturday Night Live] and seeing Twenty One Pilots, which was like the coolest thing in my life. … Maddie asked me to go with her to Shawn Mendes and I don’t love his music, but OK, I’ll go. We get there and there’s a thunderstorm, lightning hits the stage, the sound and lights go out. I’m freaking out because I hate lightning. That was in Milwaukee. I can’t say it was the best, because I hate thunderstorms, but it was the only one, and definitely interesting.
If you could have a meal with a famous person who would you choose?
Marcus Lemonis. He has a show called “The Profit” where he goes around and fixes broken businesses. He’s super interesting. My dad and I watch his show, so I would say, “My dad and I love your show. Tell me what I’m doing wrong.” That would be pretty cool.
What’s your favorite meal?
That’s so hard. My favorite food, I always say ice cream, but 95 percent of the time I’m not in the mood for ice cream. If someone put it in front of me right now I wouldn’t want it. My dad and his girlfriend get those Blue Apron boxes where you get ingredients to make whatever recipe and it’s always so good. So all of those.
What was your most prized possession as a kid?
The sentimental one was that one of my old relatives gave me a glass Native American doll. My family is actually Native American; can’t you tell? I have the Norwegian complexion, but we’re legally in a Native American tribe. We would go to these pow-wows and assemblies as a kid, and they gave me this glass doll and, despite the fact I was such a clumsy kid, it survived. I always had it on a nice shelf and didn’t touch it, and I still have it. As a kid, though, I had a Webkinz duck and carried it everywhere for, like, two years. Took it with to Disney World. It got really ratty. My uncle thought it was hilarious; he’ll bring up that I carried a duck around for two years. For the past, like, seven years we’ve given each other duck gifts for holidays. … People will come into his house and see duck salt and pepper shakers, a duck pillow. It’s been very fun.