I spent my whole undergraduate career dead-set on what I wanted to do after college. After entering the real world, I had an “uh-oh” moment. Little did I realize, it was all for the better.
Flashback to 2008. The Rock Springs High School career academies were brand new my freshman year of high school. My graduating class was to be the first to test the program out. In its initial conception, a student could choose between the energy academy, where class curriculum was geared towards the then-booming energy industry, or the health academy, where students learned the basics of the healthcare field.
It’s a rather revolutionary concept if you think about it. Most times, high school doesn’t prepare you for college. You don’t learn the study skills necessary to survive college – something I came to learn my freshman year of college. Rather, you just go through the motions for four years. But with the academies, if you were genuinely interested in a certain field, you received the basic foundation for that career path so that by the time you entered college, you had somewhat of a head-start when compared to other classmates.
I decided not to go through with either academy. Science was never my strong subject, and while I was good at math, it was something I didn’t think I wanted in a future career. Writing was always something I felt I excelled in comparable to other students. I went through the motions of high school for four years, eager for that next level of knowledge. I had my heart set on going to the University of Wyoming; there was a lineage of great Kippers thats graduated from this institution, a familial expectation of sorts. My grandpa received his doctorate from UW in 1972 and later served as UW’s Outreach director. My aunt was a Wyoming Cowgirl basketball player in the 1970s and was later a teacher at Laramie High School (AND was my mom’s volleyball coach). All of my mom’s siblings went to UW and most of them (including my mom) were at some point or still are teachers.
I figured that since most of my family went into education, I’d try it out. After all, it wasn’t the first time I thought I was a teacher-in-training. I still have vivid memories of playing “school” with my sister when I was younger. After a supposedly long day of school and getting off the bus, class was back in session in the Blazovich household. The family dining room turned into a schoolhouse, complete with leftover duplicates of lessons from my mom’s classroom. I’d be the teacher and my sister would be pupil. Sometimes we even reversed the roles. It kept us busy until Mom got home. Ah, what great times those were.
Then there were the sick days. The in-service days. The days I wanted to go to work with Mom. I remember going to Northpark on a day when I didn’t have school, but Mom had meetings all day. Without a babysitter to watch over me, she brought me to work. I remember her classroom so clearly. There was a long, red counter that ran the length of the classroom in the back of the room. There were a few horseshoe-like tables scattered around the room. One table had a bucket full of storybooks. One table was chockfull of those duplicates my sister and I enjoyed playing with so much. And in one corner of the room was what seemed to be like a prison cell. It was the oddest room I’d seen – no windows, no pictures on the wall. Nothing but concrete. Out of place for a “normal” classroom.
So, on a campus visit to UW, I checked out the College of Education. I toured the state-of-the-art educational facility, sat in on a class, but something just didn’t spark in me. That enjoyment that I had acting as a teacher when I was 8 years old just didn’t translate with time. By the time I enrolled as a full-time student, I declared as a journalism major because I wanted to expand on my strong writing ability. I wanted to see if I could make a life out of what I enjoyed.
Over the course of my collegiate career, I joined a fraternity, added two minors, and became routinely involved on campus. Unlike most college students, I never changed my major. I considered changing to business my junior year, but I thought that was too late to start over. Plus, I still loved journalism; I loved my professors and I loved my classes.
I graduated in May of 2016 with a degree in journalism and minors in marketing communications and political science. I felt that journalism and marketing played hand-in-hand with one another
My first interview after graduating was with Intermountain Healthcare as a marketing associate. I was so fortunate to receive an interview. It was my first interview, and I was terribly nervous. I thought that was going to be a home run…until I got the news that they had chosen someone else for the job. It was my first rejection, but it wouldn’t be my last.
The months went by, and I had been turned down job after job. I had the credentials, but the career field had become saturated. By November, I had sent out over 120 different applications across the marketing and journalism fields. Field reporters, radio anchors, marketing associates, creative designers. Nothing.
In the mean time, I wanted to at least make a little money. I got my substitute teacher license in September, and by October, I got my first sub job. I drove out to Northpark at 7:45 in the morning, checked in at the front desk, and found my way to my room for the day. In that room, I saw a long, red counter, a horseshoe table, a bucket full of storybooks. Fate would have it that it was my mom’s old classroom.
A week later, I got another sub job closer to home. This time, I was subbing for a friend’s mom in intervention. I’m not talking about that standard confrontation of an addict, but rather a classroom where students develop speech and reading skills. These students had such a powerful energy, working incredibly hard to speak succinctly like their classmates. The sub left me a lesson plan that featured my direct involvement. I taught them sounds and diacritics and gave them examples and phonetic applications. These kids made me realize I have a lot to learn.
Then came a series of Godlike coincidences as if He were trying to tell me something.
I was at the grocery store when I ran into a speech therapist for the school district. I had known this woman for a long time. Her room was right across from my first grade classroom. I always remember walking by her room on my way to the computer room and peering in to see if she was there. She always said “hi” to me in the hallway. Nicest woman. She asked me about my life and what my plans were. I asked if she was still a speech therapist. With a smile in her eye, she said yes. She wouldn’t give it up for the world.
Then there was the cashier at GNC. She was the one of the nicest, most helpful women you could meet. She had a couple children who, a while back, had been on an IEP to help with speech. We spent a good 10 minutes talking about her experiences with children who needed some help in developing essential speech principles. She expressed her frustration when her kids were placed in front of a computer to help them with basic sounds instead of interacting with an actual person. However, she expressed gratitude towards the speech therapist who took the time to help her children individually and eventually helped them overcome an obstacle in the developmental years.
Late at night, while on vacation with my family in Florida, it hit me. I knew what I wanted to do with my life.
Some people graduate and still don’t know what they want to do with their life. I can now say that I was in the same boat. Some people need to go through real-life trials and tribulations. I can now say that I’ve gone through plenty. Some people find their passion when they least expect it. I can now say that through introspection, I’ve found out my passion. My passion is using my voice to help other people speak. I viewed my role as a potential journalist as someone who would help tell people’s stories. Now, as a Masters student in speech language pathology and communication disorders, I am using my voice to help others make theirs stronger.
Life really is a journey in finding yourself, finding what you want to do. Sometimes, you’ll find the answer in the situation you’d least expect.