“Within the first day at the hospital I knew I had no desire to be a physician’s assistant, and I started to pour all my attention into becoming a school psychologist.”
When I graduated high school I thought I wanted to be a physician’s assistant. Looking back, I do not know why I thought that was my calling. I had seen a physician’s assistance for checkups and what not, but I had never shadowed or understood everything that they did. Fast forward to freshman year of college. I attended Georgia College and State University. I chose GSCU knowing that none of my close friends were going, but I thought that it would be an adventure. My first semester there, I declared biology as my major (however, read on and you will see that did not last long). Freshman year provided me with a mix of emotions. I was getting accustomed to the work load of college classes as well as trying to get involved on campus and make friends. I did dual enrollment in high school, so I had a lot of core classes out of the way, which caused me to be placed in harder classes that first semester. I was in Biology 1108, Chemistry I, World Civilization, and Pre-calc. Talk about a hard semester!! That first semester I really had to think about what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I talked to my advisors and switched my major to psychology, not really knowing what I wanted to do with that degree. I completed my second semester freshman year much happier and with much more time on my hands since I was not having to spend all my time in the learning center getting tutored on chemistry homework!
Sophomore year I began to explore my options a bit more. I talked with my mom about career options and she suggested school psychology. I had never heard of a school psychologist before, as I never had to see one growing up. In fact, I do not think a lot of people are familiar with school psychology because when I mention it they always think I am going into school counseling, but I digress. To confirm school psychology was for me, I researched the position, conducted an informational interview with a current school psychologist, and also shadowed him for a day. After conducting this research, I thought to myself, “Well, might as well shadow a P.A while I am home to for sure rule that occupation out.” So, I went to the local hospital and set that up as well. Within the first day at the hospital I knew I had no desire to be a physician’s assistant, and I started to pour all my attention into becoming a school psychologist.
Fast forward to junior year. My junior year I decided to transfer to Georgia Southern University to try to get my foot in the door with the school psychology program here. When I arrived I set up an appointment to meet with the program director for school psychology, Dr. Dawn Tysinger. I discussed with her what I needed to be doing in my undergrad career to help me stand out from the other candidates, and she also helped assure me that school psychology is for me.
I am now in my second year of the program and am absolutely in love with everything about school psychology. I am so excited to round out my second year and begin my internship in the spring. Looking back, it was quite scary freshman year when I was having a “major” crisis. However, I would not change anything about my journey because it all landed me where I am today! If I had any advice for others, it would be to get involved and engage in some type of experiential learning because it can really help you decide if that career choice to right for you!
“While this is where I am at now, my journey is still continuing, and there are days that I still feel ill-prepared for the future, but overall, I know that I made the right decision for my life…”
For my entire life, I have always known that I wanted to help others; people and their happiness have always been my biggest passion for as long as I can remember. When I was younger, I went through all of the typical ideas of “what I wanted to be when I grew up,” such a being a nurse, a doctor, a veterinarian, and so on- anything that would allow me to help and to heal. What I did not know, though, is what a journey this passion would put me on.
By the time I started college, I had the opportunity to gain some experience as a Student Athletic Trainer at my high school and loved it at the time, so naturally, I decided I wanted to be an Athletic Trainer for a high school, college, or maybe even a professional sports team. However, when I saw a good friend of mine get injured during a football game, I quickly realized that I was not cut out to be an Athletic Trainer, because I get attached to people way too easily and could not hold back an emotional reaction, if I saw someone I care about, get hurt; with his epiphany, I knew I had to find a different career path.
My passion to help and heal remained intact, so I had to find something that would allow me to use this in a different way; I came across Physical Therapy, which I knew I enjoyed because I had been through it myself with my own sport-related injury. I figured if I could not handle the initial injury care, then I could at least help with the healing process afterward, and I wanted to work specifically with athletes, so I was able to relate to what they were going through; this revelation brought me to the decision to change my major to Exercise Science.
I loved Exercise Science and everything about the idea of becoming a Physical Therapist, so life was great… for a little while anyways. I thought I finally had everything all figured out, until I had to take a Physics class, which I struggled through and cried about every single day for an entire semester; I did pass the class but it was just barely, and I knew I could not handle another semester like that in Physics 2. When I was honest with myself, I was also not thrilled about the idea of taking another Chemistry class either, even though I did okay in it. So, there I was with the weight of dreading my classes every day for the next two years, and because of this, I lost my motivation and drive to go to Physical Therapy School. While that occupation would have provided me with a comfortable living and a decent salary, I was miserable trying to get there and I had barely started on the journey; it was time for another change.
Let me tell you, I consider myself to be a relatively adaptable and flexible person, but if anything stresses me out, it is making big decisions and the fear of disappointing others, so I had a lot on my mind and was at a complete loss as far as what I wanted to do. I was at the end of my Sophomore year, had already changed my major once, and was completely uncertain what I wanted out of my future; I was embarrassed (because I had already changed my major once and wanted to change again after two years of classes), scared (because I did not know what others would think or even what I should do), worried (about starting a new journey to find something else to do), nervous (about what my future would look like), stressed out (by the idea of having to make this decision and tell people things had changed for me), and overwhelmed (just by everything that I was feeling and all of the thoughts swirling rapidly through my mind), but I took a deep breath and decided to take one weekend to commit myself to researching careers, majors, and even doing some self-exploration to see if I could come to any conclusions about my next steps.
I started with the self-exploration portion, which honestly did not take very long; my overall goal and dream of helping others had remained the same. I still wanted to help others, but I did learn that I had a greater passion for mental/emotional healing and well-being than I did for physical; I wanted everyone to know that they matter, are loved and cared for, and that they have value. I wanted people to know that they had someone there for them, no matter what, and I wanted to be that person. I also had a knack and love for mentorship and being that “shoulder to cry on” for people; I loved when people would come to me with their problems and received so much joy and satisfaction out of helping them through tough situations.
This brought me to a quick conclusion that I should go into counseling. After doing some research on various careers in this field, I knew that I preferred doing this in a school setting; I decided then that I had a goal to attend Graduate School to earn a Master’s Degree in School Counseling after receiving my Bachelor’s Degree in…
Oh right, I still had no idea what to do at the current moment to even get to Graduate School. So, there I was, I had a passion at point A and a career goal at point Z, but I had no idea what in the world to do to get me from A to Z. I researched every single major that Georgia Southern offered, and my best-fitting options came down to Psychology, which I thought sounded pretty cool and Child and Family Development, which I honestly did not know much about. I ultimately decided against Psychology, because I was afraid that I could not get a job in that field without a Master’s Degree, and I wanted to work while I was in Graduate School. So, I had decided, very reluctantly, that I was going to be a Child and Family Development major with an emphasis in Child Development.
I felt very content with my decision, even though I did not have much knowledge, beyond what the internet told me, of what CHFD offered or looked like. My family was not thrilled with the idea of me going into this field, because I went from a career path that would have me earning about $70K per year to one that had me at about $30K per year, but for me, it was not about the money; I just wanted to be happy, and when I went to my first day of classes in CHFD, I knew that I would be. I had so much reassurance that I had chosen the right field for me; I loved the classes, the professors, and my classmates, and this major was going to get me to my ultimate career goal of school counseling, while still allowing me the opportunity to work while I am earning my Master’s Degree.
Today, I am in my final semester of classes in CHFD, preparing to begin my internship next semester, and I am waiting to hear about a position in the School Counseling Program here at Georgia Southern. My goal while I am earning my Master’s degree is to become an Academic Advisor, either in the First Year Experience Office, as a Graduate Assistant or in the College of Health and Human Sciences, as a full-time staff member.
While this is where I am at now, my journey is still continuing, and there are days that I still feel ill-prepared for the future, but overall, I know that I made the right decision for my life, and that I am on the right track to reach my end goal. Be encouraged that you will too if you are not afraid to take a deep breath and leap into the world of self, major, and career exploration; it is all a part of your first year experience.
We are excited to provide a space where you can gain some perspective from other people’s experiences. Engaging in self-exploration, working to discover a major that feels right, and connecting the dots to be successful after graduation can each feel overwhelming on their own.
Our hope is that this space can provide a perspective of students and alumni that can help you make sense of your own process. We can’t guarantee that this space can provide the answers for you, but we can promise that you’ll hear honest perspectives from people that have tackled similar questions and concerns.
We hope that you can find some value in the voices of others, and we’re here to help you find your path when you’re ready.