BIG NEWS ALERT!
If you follow me on social then you probably already know, but if not, let me update you.
I was recently accepted into University of Central Florida’s masters program for Speech Language Pathology. I still have goosebumps as I write that sentence. This is something that I’ve been keeping under wraps for the past few years and I’m so glad that I can finally shout it from the rooftops.
This was not an over night decision. No, no, no…this is something that I’ve worked SO hard for. Tears were shed, doubts were made, life crisis’ were had…but I’m finally here.
But why the change? How did I get here? Well, let’s start at the beginning.
I was a Communications major at Eckerd College and it wasn’t until my senior year that I realized I wanted to go into marketing. I got an internship in the marketing department at a local resort and I loved it. They did all of their own advertising, promotions, public relations, commercial filming, etc. I enjoyed the people I worked with and the work was creative and fun. I also loved the field of hospitality and being a part of creating a memorable experience. As graduation neared the resort hired me on full time and I was psyched to have a job right out of school at a place I loved.
Fast forward a few years later and our resort was hosting the National Autism Association’s Conference and our resort put a plan in place to become autism friendly. As Marketing Coordinator I spear headed our autism friendly program and what it would entail. I worked with various departments to create safety kits, quiet zones, autism friendly kid’s activities, etc. In doing so I ended up learning a lot about autism and how it effected families’ every day lives. It lit something in me that I can’t really describe. I started to feel a strong passion towards the autism community and wanting to help them in any way that I could.
I have always had a passion for wanting to help people. One of my favorite things to do is volunteer. I started realizing that this was the path I wanted for my career, and not just something I did in my free time. I wanted my life to be dedicated to bettering people’s lives. And I specifically wanted to help children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Around this time one of my best friends was in school for speech pathology and she encouraged me to look into it. I’ve never really thought of myself as someone who would go into a health related field, but I did the research. I also met with a few speech pathologists to get insight into their day to day lives. And they all had one thing in common: passion. They truly love what they do and wouldn’t give it up for anything. This sealed the deal for me and made me realize this was the path I was meant to take.
Did this mean I no longer loved marketing? Absolutely not. I believe you can have multiple loves and passions in your life. But it’s a choice on which one you decide on making your full time job. I’ve loved all of the marketing jobs I’ve had. However, I realized I wasn’t interested in going to the next level a.k.a. becoming a Marketing Director or a VP of Marketing. I’m a person who is always looking forward to the next step and searching for ways I can grow and learn. Not wanting to move beyond my position put me at a dead end. Stability was also a key decision factor. Unfortunately, I’ve experienced much instability in my marketing career thus far. Being in the health field meant more stability and a job for life.
I was very lucky that I had a friend who was a few steps ahead of me and was able to help guide me on what my next steps would be. If you want to be a Speech Language Pathologist you need a masters degree…there’s no way around it. But first you need to take a whole bunch of pre-requisite classes. Which basically means a second bachelor’s degree if you don’t already have a BS in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I did University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee’s post-baccalaureate program, which was online. I enrolled in the program part time while I worked full time and it took 2 years to finish. If you do full time you can finish in 1 year.
Once that was done it was time for the dreaded GRE. I am in no way a good standardized test taker (but how many people really are?) I studied for the GRE on my own and took it twice before I first applied to graduate programs.
Unfortunately, I did not get into a program the first time I applied. Speech Language Pathology programs are highly competitive. Most programs get over 500 applications, and out of those applications they only have 20-30 spots to fill.
I was heartbroken after not getting into a program and it caused me to re-look at my life and my career. Did I really want to do this? Would I be able to do this? I went back and forth on whether or not I wanted to re-apply. Was it worth it? The answer was YES. This was something I had worked too hard towards to just give up so easily.
I took a GRE prep course and got a private tutor. I took the GRE 2 more times and raised my scores significantly. I acquired an extra letter of recommendation. I reworked my letter of intent multiple times. And then I re-applied. And waited.
I can’t explain the feeling I got when that email from UCF popped into my inbox. It was all I could do not to burst into tears at my desk at work. I just kept thinking, “I did it, I really did it.” I was finally going to be able to do what I really wanted to do.
Some questions I’ve gotten: Are you moving or commuting? What’s happening to the blog?
Jon and I do not want to live in Orlando long term, so we decided it would be best if I just got a place in Orlando while I was in school. He’ll still be in St. Pete and I will be traveling home on the weekends.
The blog will still be going strong. No matter what my day time job is, I will always be a foodie and will always love to share my foodie experiences. I hope to share some new experiences with you as I enter this new chapter of my life.
Have you ever changed careers? I want to hear your stories!