What Junior College and a New Career Did For Me

Silhouette in the tunnel with rays of light.

One Era Ended and Another Started

I was a mother of four young children when I realized my marriage was most likely over. I had gone to Indiana University 16 years prior and to become a certified dental assistant. And while I had always worked at least part-time, I knew this career would not support a single mom and family. Not only that, but I knew I had more in me – more to learn, more to do, more to give.

I viewed my local junior college as a path to my future, a future that would support not only my family, but also my dreams. In the fall of 1998, I started taking Saturday classes at Fullerton, to get back in the swing of learning and also to provide the least interruption to my busy family’s schedule. After seven straight semesters of taking Saturday classes, my marriage ended. Spring semester 2002, I took my first Monday class – Modern Dramatic Literature.  After class one day, I thanked my instructor – he didn’t know why, I didn’t know why – I was just feeling thankful.

A Stroke of Good Luck

As I left class, I stopped at the bulletin boards in the theater hall to read alumni news and bits about auditions and upcoming shows. One section shared job openings in the area – I was working two part-time jobs, as well as taking five classes that semester. Money was not only tight, there was none. I had no idea where my next tank of gas would come from. I perused the job section and one listing caught my eye – “Make money making calls – Theater experience a plus – Work around your school schedule – Call for details” with a phone number displayed. I made the call, scheduled an interview for the next day and was immediately offered a job doing “Name Sourcing” with an executive search firm. I started work there within just a few days – but now working three part-time jobs and attending junior college.

That job and my time at junior college changed my life.

I soon fell in love with business and the corporate world, I changed my major and kept working at it. I finally left my other two jobs after being promoted to executive recruiter full-time but continued taking classes. After eight years, squeezing in as many classes as my schedule would allow, I transferred to a private university to achieve my business degree which I finally completed within two very fast-paced years.

Though I was only able to take a few theater classes at Fullerton, the department and what it offered to the community became my anchor during a very turbulent time in my life. I was often hungry, physically and metaphorically; going to college fed me intellectually and made me believe that I could do more, that I could be more. In addition to General Ed classes and Theater courses, I also took several writing classes. These classes sparked a long-time love of poetry and writing which I had buried away for many years. Writing helped me to find clarity in my work and re-define my life path. And I haven’t stopped writing since.

The Next Steps

After years of recruiting and learning all that I could, I let it all go and dove into learning all I could about social media and how to use it in business. I sacrificed everything for that self-education. I worked from home, barely getting by – surviving poverty – until October of 2009, when I was hired as the Marketing Director for global recruiting software company Broadbean Technology and just last fall, Broadbean’s parent company, UK-based Evenbase hired me to manage communications and branding here in the US.  I still write – almost every day. Having written and published over 1 million words of content, I can honestly say that writing is the single greatest thing I have done for my life and my career.

Backwards and Forwards

During one of my theater classes at Fullerton College, I read the book Backwards and Forwards by David Ball. It was a method of understanding action, place, and time in scripts – recognizing the forwards and backwards in a script/storyline to see and understand how the play works. This became a method for my life. My “forward” was that I could see a diploma in my hand at the end of my long and dusty road. If I could share anything with someone during a time of transition,  it would be, “Never Give Up. Never.”

You have to fix your eyes on the finish line.  Life is not a grind, it is a journey of epic proportions. Some days may feel all uphill, pushing your overloaded handcart like a weary pioneer.  Other days may feel like a gleeful toboggan ride over glistening snow.  And still others like madness maddened and a rubber room would be a vacation. Managing life and its crises is part of being an adult.  Every time you complete a course or survive a hardship, you are setting a self-precedent of success. Picture your success.  Never lose sight of it. It will come.

Sharing My Story

As part of my alma mater’s centennial celebration, alumni were asked to share their Fullerton College experience to be published on their website. The Dean of the Theater Department – the teacher I thanked so many years ago – contacted me and asked me to add mine, these have been some of those words.

Remember, your journey – your story – is life-long and sometimes, there are delightful twists.  Others, there is just work, what feels like endless work.  Relish it all.  It is what makes you who you are.  And though I finished school long ago, my education will never be complete.

 

 

 

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