With unique traditions and experiences, Olivia Cormaci finds fulfillment and purpose


Olivia Cormaci

From barbecue to fashion, Olivia is connected to North Carolina in many ways despite not having lived there in years.

Despite living in Michigan for the past four years, senior Olivia Cormaci has always known North Carolina to be her one true home, yet unlike others, what beckons her to the state she used to live in isn’t an old house or a group of family members. 

Olivia’s roots in North Carolina come from her fond memories of accompanying her dad on trips throughout the state with only one goal in mind: finding the best barbecue that the state has to offer. 

“My dad used to take me on little weekend trips to barbecue places, and it was this father-daughter bonding experience,” Olivia said. “It’s kind of our thing, and when I think of home, that’s what I think of. When you have that special experience with somebody, it bonds you because only you guys have that. It’s a special thing. It’s your thing, and you can’t transfer that to somebody else.”

The obstacle of living twelve hours away from home, however, has proved no match for this tradition. From visiting college campuses to going on business trips, Olivia and her dad are always able to find an excuse to keep their tradition alive and have expanded their taste for North Carolina barbecue to a palate for barbecue nationwide. 

“Even to this day, when we visited [North Carolina State University], we were like, ‘Do we hit all of our favorite barbecue places as we’re driving through?’” Olivia said. “Or, he’ll come back from trying different [barbecue] places [on business], and he’ll tell me about it [and say], ‘Next time, I’ll take you there.’”

When you have that special experience with somebody, it bonds you because only you guys have that. It’s a special thing. It’s your thing, and you can’t transfer that to somebody else.

— Olivia Cormaci

Olivia and her dad’s shared adoration of barbecue has bonded them in a way that’s specific to them and is a tradition that has only strengthened over the years. Barbecue, though, is not the only thing that unites them.

Olivia’s love for North Carolina also runs in the family, and her history and connection to the state was a huge catalyst for her family’s support of Olivia going to college in North Carolina. With a location locked in mind, the only question that remained for Olivia was which NC University she would attend, and after finding a school with the perfect program for her, she knew her fate was sealed. 

“I found out [NC State] had the Fashion and Textile Management Program, and immediately it became my dream school,” Olivia said. “But mostly what drew me to NC State was that it was in North Carolina, and I wanted to go back [to North Carolina] because I missed it so much.”

With plans to study both environmental science and fashion, Olivia’s future school curriculum perfectly coincides with her passions and interests. Being one of FHC’s greenhouse gardeners, pursuing environmental science was a no-brainer, but what drew her to study fashion is a much longer story.

“When I lived in Arkansas, I had HBO, and there was this documentary about all the contributing editors of Vogue magazine and how they shaped the magazine,” Olivia said. “I remember just staring at the screen thinking, ‘Oh my God, that looks amazing.’ The next day, my mom bought me a Vogue magazine, and ever since then, I’ve been really interested in fashion just because of that one documentary.”

With a specific and eclectic fashion taste that encompasses a love for the fifties, Audrey-Hepburn-inspired clothing, and a joy for customized Converse sneakers, Olivia’s style is completely individual. The authenticity and uniqueness that everyone has when it comes to fashion are just two of the many things that draw Olivia to the craft.

Whether it’s juxtaposing a pair of lace socks with her leopard-print Converse or finding the beauty in a simple sweatshirt, Olivia seizes every opportunity to incorporate fashion into her life, and the clothing she wears not only empowers her but showcases her identity too. 

“I have more vintage-style clothing,” Olivia said. “I don’t really like trendier clothing, and I think that’s perfectly fine because it shows people who I really am. You see different parts of people when they’re in different clothing, and I think it’s really interesting when [what someone is wearing] gives away their personality.”

After moving to Forest Hills in the eighth grade, Olivia used fashion to not only find comfort in a new school but in herself too. Though her journey as a student at FHC is coming to a close, Olivia has found herself focusing on a goal different from graduation, a goal that she feels she has achieved: finding her true self. 

From being the new girl in eighth grade who just wanted to learn where her classes were to becoming the best version of herself, Olivia’s high school journey is something she has truly become proud of.

“I’m kind of amazed at how confident I am now,” Olivia said. “When [I moved here] in eighth grade, I was very reserved, very withdrawn, and I’m more in tune with myself now. I’m more open, and I’m not as scared of what other people think. I think being new does that to you because you have to accept who you are—if you don’t, what are you going to do?”