Sunday, January 8, 2012

from undecided to now

I went into college "undecided". I was tossing around different ideas in my head- education, nursing, social work, psychology. I took general studies classes, but I didn't really have any idea what I wanted to do. I had joined a sorority in the fall of my freshmen year, and that immediately became my main focus. I spent 95% of my time at the sorority house or with my sisters. School, and my future, were put on the back burner.

Once at my sorority house I was talking to my friend Marisa, who was a senior. She was, I think, training me on taking over her position of director of scholarship. Director of scholarship is in charge of making sure everyone's grades are up to par, we had to maintain a certain gpa to be allowed members of the sorority. It was also the role of the director of scholarship to help the girls who were struggling by setting up study hours, helping to find tutors and extra help, and, guide them to settle on a major. Marisa was the one who guided me. She didn't mean to, really, she just said "I'm a family studies major". I asked what that meant, she said it studied family dynamics, that it could lead to counseling and family outreach positions. That sounded just fine to me. I liked helping people, I liked studying human interaction. Family studies it is!

I declared family studies as my major my sophomore year and stuck with it. I was never really happy. I liked it, sure, and I liked my professors. I liked having all my classes with the star of our football team, Louis Delmas...but I still never felt like I was doing me. It just felt like I was going through the motions. I remained very involved in my sorority until the day we closed down due to lack of money and support from alumnae. On that day, I realized I really had nothing to show for. A shut down sorority and a major I wasn't happy with.

All of that changed when I landed my internship with the Kalamazoo Child Abuse and Neglect Council. Prior to that internship, I had my heart set on becoming a child life specialist. But after learning how competitive the field was, I gave up. Luckily, KCAN swooped in when I needed it. The organization was tiny. Just two full time staff members and a board of directors backing it up. My role was, primarily, outreach. My supervisor put me in charge of some pretty large projects, and even let me create some of my own. It was the first time I had really felt needed in a job, felt like I could make a difference. Although I wasn't working directly with families dealing with abuse, I was helping to prevent it by educating the community. I loved every minute of that internship. Plus it gave me confidence, and I started volunteering at the juvenile detention center on the side, helping the female residents learn to read and write.

After graduation I had no idea where to go next. KCAN was not hiring any more staff. I figured I would land at a YWCA or something similar, creating more outreach programs. Instead I ended up doing a year of volunteer service through the Mercy Volunteer Corps, where I was placed at Cristo Rey High School. I wore a number of hats at the school, running the lunch program, peer mediation, teaching creative writing, and filling in for other teachers. If we're talking about most incredible experiences of my life, MVC was, hands down, the winner. I learned so much about myself and society that year. I learned how to push myself, how to push others.

After MVC I was once again "lost" on the job front. I searched for months before I landed a job at Boys Hope Girls Hope. I was excited to work with at risk youth again. That job ended up being a really bad experience. Organization was falling apart and all I did, and I mean literally all I did, was drive kids back and forth to school or tutoring, listening to Nicki Minaj or Trey Songz. I quit that job in January 2011.

So where did that leave me? Once again, lost. I search for jobs all across the United States at places like the Y, hospitals, schools, nonprofits, you name it, I looked. Finally, my sister told me that her husband's cousin mentioned there might be a job opening at the hospice where she worked. "Is that something you'd be interested in?" she asked me. "Probably not. But I might as well", was my response. I just never pictured myself in and administrative setting, much less a hospice. But, 9 months later, here I am, the volunteer coordinator for a hospice. I love my job, I do. I am back to doing outreach and managing programs, which is where I excelled at KCAN and Cristo Rey. Am I doing what a family studies major "should" be doing? Heck if I know. Does it matter? Probably not. I have a job, I'm fairly decent at my job, and it's giving me a whole heap of experience and networking tools. And yes, I'm happy, career wise.

So that, my friends, is my very up and down account of my field of study leading to my career. Random post, I know, but I was thinking about what led me to where I am today.

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