As many people know, I recently decided to do something that, if you told me a year ago I would be doing now, I would have laughed in your face and called you a liar.
I decided to go back to school and get [another] degree.
Since then, besides all of the high-fives and the “Congratulations!” I’ve received, I’ve had a lot of people ask me “why?”
It’s no secret college is expensive, so besides receiving financial aid I am spending some time applying for scholarships. (The less I have to pay back after I graduate, the better!)
Recently, I came across a scholarship that awards an adult individual who has taken time since high school to pursue real world activities or careers. The essay has to explain why the applicant is returning to college after being in the real world for a few years; must have a financial need; and what college means to them.
So I applied. And to answer that “why?” question, I figured I would turn my scholarship submission into a blog post. So here you go! For any of you who wondered. Maybe, it’ll inspire even just one of you to pursue your passion, too.
If I looked up the statistics for college graduates who actually utilized their degrees, I bet it would show only half having careers related to their chosen field of study. Honestly, how many 18 year olds (age around the time you declare your major) really KNOW what they want to be when they grow up?
When I graduated high school in 2004, I wanted to work backstage in television. So what did I do? I pursued my degree and graduated in 2008 with a B.A. in Communication with an emphasis in Media Production and a minor in Advertising. To say, “breaking into news is hard” is an understatement. Applications were e-mailed and snail mailed at an exponential rate and no job opportunity ever came. So I ended up following the path of my minor, hoping I would find a way to loop back into television. From there, my career over the last 6-7 years has morphed into the realm of digital marketing/advertising; still in the “media” universe, yes, but nothing to do with where I pictured myself now though, in 2015, at 29 years old.
Since college graduation, life has happened. Relationships have came and gone, I’ve lived in two different states, and biggest detour on my initial path of life has been my daughter, who came in 2011. Since her arrival, it hasn’t been easy (although I 110% wouldn’t change a thing). Being a single parent is hard work. It’s expensive. It makes pursuing goals that much more financially difficult.
Amidst having LilyAnn, I was never truly happy in my career. I worked at a few different companies, but never advanced. I can admit that I seemed to get “burnt out” around the same time, in all my jobs. Internet Marketing was not what I went to school for. Even the dream of working in TV was a thing of the past, knowing how much the weird scheduling took away from quality family time. There was a light of hope though. After having Lily, I found love- in fitness. I lost all my baby weight in less than 3 months. I was on the road to being healthier and more fit than I had ever been. Fitness was truly my new found love, and I found myself rushing to the gym after work, reading the latest article on the new fitness rage sweeping the country, or researching ideas for my next gym session. I was NOT, however, keeping up with the times on the latest marketing trends, or spending all hours of the night in a heated debate on Twitter about the next release from Google; which is what all my advancing co-workers were doing.
I will never forget the simple words of wisdom that my friend had given me in 2013. At the time, she was pursuing her own newly found career path. She had just left a 6 figure income, but it didn’t matter to her. I had never seen her so genuinely HAPPY. As I was complaining about my current workload, she reminded me that life is too short to not be doing something that you love and makes you truly happy. She was right. I had, at that point, already spent around 5 years trying my hardest to love all things digital-marketing, but as the saying goes, “you can’t help who [what] you love.” I loved fitness. I love the health and wellness field. I love bettering not only myself, but helping others better themselves, too. And I was good at it.
So I did just that. At the beginning of 2014, I became a Certified Personal Trainer. I started training at my beloved gym after work, and become even more enthralled with the health and fitness field. My boss at the time had realized that as much as his love was digital marketing, it surely wasn’t mine, and offered a part-time position that I could work from home doing while I pursued more hours at the gym. It was going to be hard walking away from the [decent] money and stability, but I did it. You only live once, right? I received a Group Instructor certification at the end of 2014 and now currently I am doing personal training, running a small group bootcamp, and teaching aqua aerobics. On top of being a single parent and juggling 3 jobs (to make enough I am still doing some contract work), I decided I wanted to go back to school. A lot of my clients not only need help in fitness, but also come to me with lifestyle questions. Nutrition and wellness have always intrigued me, but prior to a few months ago, I only focused on the fitness side. So, after doing some research in degrees, I came across a B.S. in Healthy Lifestyles Coaching at Arizona State University. Being 100% online, it was perfect for a single parent who has to shuffle around 3 different work schedules and a child.
A B.S in Healthy Lifestyles Coaching is the missing puzzle piece to my dream career. I have the knowledge of the fitness aspect, but to truly be well-rounded in this field, I need to be more fluent in wellness and nutrition. I am currently enrolled at ASU and receiving financial aid, but I am still struggling. I don’t have a lot of wiggle room to pick up more hours because I have to make time to study. Online classes take a lot of self-discipline, time, and dedication. Receiving this scholarship would be the little extra help I need for Fall 2015 semester. Please help me be part of the percentage of people who pursue, thrive, and love their field of work.
P.S. Go SunDevils! #FearTheFork