Down the Winding Road

With everything that’s happened recently, I’ve been reflecting on where I’ve been since I’m not exactly sure where I’m going.

When I started at Ohio State, I was a Computer Science Engineering student. I was a Computer Science Engineering student who was working for the Marching Band. I had gone to a Women in Engineering event over the summer for incoming freshmen. I was going to the Society of Women Engineers meetings. By the end of my first quarter, I was looking for a new major. I hadn’t passed my math class. A math class that is offered only in the fall. Engineering takes five years. I wasn’t in the mood to be there for six.

When my mom read the description for Speech and Hearing Science, something about it appealed to me. The idea of helping others to speak clearly again was appealing. I went from Speech Therapy to Audiology and back to Speech. But that was no big deal because you don’t specialize as an undergraduate. That’s what graduate school is for. When I settled on Speech, I decided I wanted to work with kids. I figured I’d work at a children’s hospital since school therapists have to focus on clear communication instead of speech since there aren’t enough to be able to do more in-depth work with students.

Eventually my dream job was to be a speech therapist out at the Ohio School for the Deaf. I loved my ASL classes and I knew I’d be working with kids. That’s why I eventually went to Columbus State Community College so I could get an Associate’s in Interpreting. I figured if I didn’t become an interpreter to help me pay for grad school and then supplement my therapist income, the skills would help me be a better candidate for speech therapist at OSD.

After a year in the interpreting program, I realized that my love of the Deaf Community and Culture and sign language just wouldn’t work with the goals of a speech therapist at times. I decided, with support of friends and family, to change to Linguistics for my graduate school focus. I thought that by doing research and teaching I would be able to bring more knowledge and understanding of Deaf Culture to the hearing world.

Then things changed again at the end of May. From the beginning, my mom didn’t like the thought of me going into Linguistics with a heavy focus on sign languages, especially ASL. She was worried that I wouldn’t be able to get a job in the field after I was done getting my master’s degree and Ph. D. One night I was visiting and she told me about two options she thought I should look into. One was becoming a librarian. I love to read and I love books, so I can see why she would think that. But that’s exactly why I shouldn’t become one; I love to read. I worked at a library when I was in high school. I got fired because I kept reading the books instead of putting them away. Then she told me about Popular Culture, and the rest is history!

I’m putting all of this out there because I know there are others out there struggling to figure out what they want to do. You are not alone! I will be 32 in a couple of weeks and I will be starting graduate school a few weeks after that. In a field that is not even remotely related to what my bachelor’s degree is in. After I’m done with this master’s degree, I’m planning to spend another two years getting another master’s degree. When I’m done with that one, I’m planning to start a career. I’ll be 36-years-old and just starting a career. But it is going to be a career that I’m not going to be in any rush to retire from.

You need to move at the rate that works for you. Don’t gauge your life by what other people have done. I admit, I do get kinda depressed at the thought that my ASL III teacher who is at least 2 years younger than me was working on a Ph. D before deciding he needed to get some real-world experience before continuing his education. But if I had gotten into graduate school any time before this, I wouldn’t be starting in Popular Culture in a little over a month. If I had gone from undergraduate to graduate, I would be an unhappy speech therapist who can kind of sign.

Don’t give up. You’ll find your place. Just keep looking!

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