My Path Into a STEM Field

August 17, 2014
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Moving toward formal education

After getting my massage certificate I started making a decent living and enjoyed my work immensely. I enjoyed interacting with and helping people.  As a result of not being educated early on I always found concepts difficult to grasp so being able to touch a muscle and call it by its name, or massage someone’s shoulders until they were loose came much easier to me. This massage skill was concrete and somewhat spiritual, but not necessarily intellectual. I felt comfortable with this work and starting this would give me the confidence I would need later to embark on new dreams.


            After working as a massage therapist fulltime for five years I found myself constantly exhausted and frequently injured. In order to go on vacation I would have to work double the hours just to offset what I wasn’t making when I wasn’t working. I started thinking about retirement and how I had no money for that and the ability to keep up at this breakneck pace was dwindling quickly. I was 26, broke and broken. I thought I had done the only thing I could do in regards to education because I felt I wasn’t smart enough for college. At this time in my life my lack of education was affecting me socially as well. I often felt lost in conversation and intimidated by intellectuals. The interpersonal skills I relied on thus far to coast through social interactions were not working as well as they once had. I was aging out of the spiritual ‘hippy dippy’ talk and moving into the talk of current events, history, science, and critical thinking. I was having a quarter life crisis and I loathed the romantic, empty-headed woman-child I was becoming. I knew I wanted more from myself but I didn’t know how to go about achieving it.


            A few months after these realizations, a few good cries, a trip to the emergency room from a bladder infection gone awry, and a long talk with a nurse who loved her job I started to wonder about nursing as a career change. I have never been one to be motivated by money alone. I have always lived my life wanting to serve others and to meet others immediate needs. In fact, “Tell me what you need right now” would probably be my motto if I had one. I believe my purpose in life is to be part of a greater good, to rescue those who need rescuing, and providing comfort to those in need of comfort. Which is why it was no real surprise when I found myself gravitating this way.


            After several pep talks from my boyfriend and conversations with close friends and family my confidence grew enough for me to begin my prerequisite courses. I walked into my first day of classes filled with anxiety and self-doubt. I hated what didn’t know and I was going to learn all I could. The first quarter of school I took English 101, Pre-Algebra, and Psychology 101 and made the Dean’s list. I was working fulltime and rocked it! Second quarter rolled around and I took my first science class General Biology that ended up rocking me…a math course and a psychology course. I passed by the skin of my teeth and self-doubt set in again. The third quarter I signed up for one class, Anatomy and Physiology. I thought because I had gone to massage school that this course wasn’t going to teach me anything and I approached it with the kind of cockiness only an insecure, unsure, uneducated gal can have. I finished that quarter with a 1.6 GPA and $445 in the hole. I failed. Not because I couldn’t do it, but because I didn’t know how to do it, and I was too proud and embarrassed to ask for help.



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