2016 Essay Competition - View all entries

Factors Considered

Serenah Wilson - Tempe, AZ, United States

For me, choosing a career path has been a journey filled with indecision, prayer and self-discovery. As a kid, I never understood classmates who claimed to know what they wanted to 'be' when they grew up. All I knew was that I wanted to have a sleepover come Friday night. My future was a blank slate, and I was content with that. Eventually, I found myself to be a senior in high school with no idea what I wanted for my future.

Simply because it was 'time', I enrolled at Arizona State University. I entered the Kinesiology program thinking that I would pursue a career in Physical Therapy. At the time, I was friends with a victim of severe strokes. His story and relationship with his rehabilitators inspired me. I knew that I could help people and that this would be a high-paying opportunity. However, I also knew that this career would be somewhat hollow for me as it wouldn't include sharing Christ. It took only one semester for my heart to lead me elsewhere.

During this first semester, I made friends with a girl who lived across from my dorm. She became pregnant and experienced a great deal of emotional turmoil. She grappled with the possibilities of parenthood, adoption and abortion. This was an intense time as I wanted to both support her through this and share my passion for pro-life values. I did my best to provide friendship, emotional support and encouragement. I took initiative and got her an appointment at a local pregnancy center that offered free ultrasounds, maternity clothes, prenatal vitamins and perhaps most importantly, the support and encouragement of the women on staff. The women at this pro-life clinic made my friend feel capable and excited when her family did not.

Witnessing this encouraged me to change my major. I began to research what it would take to enter the field of Sonography. God had given me strengths such as empathy, passion for the well-being of the family and interest in pregnancy. It was then that I began going to community college to finish my general education and fulfill the prerequisites for the Sonography program at Gateway Community College. I envisioned myself showing the first images of new babies to their mothers. I wanted to help create excitement and joy for women who may be feeling overwhelmed and scared. This career felt like it could be my calling. I would make less money than as a physical therapist, but that started to feel less important. I did, however, have a small, nagging fear that a career in sonography might lead to monotony or even boredom.

I learned that there was only one accredited school for Sonography in the state of Arizona. Thus, the program was very selective. I saw advisers, continued classes and applied to the program for two years. Both attempts resulted in rejection. There were over 300 students vying for 20 seats and somehow, despite the odds, I felt that I would get in because God wanted me to. Perhaps this experience was something that God wanted me to undergo but, acceptance into the program was not. As a refusal to give up, I began researching sonography programs nationally. I decided to take prerequisites for other programs and apply out of state. This led to a great deal of work and frustration. I began to experience overwhelming feelings of spinning my wheels. Every program was highly selective and I was spread thin. I knew that I had my eggs in too many baskets to gain acceptance in any of them. I felt that God was leading me away from this pursuit.

After this, I began feeling more undecided and aimless than ever. I continued to pray for guidance to the path that God meant for me. I considered being a Special Education Teacher as I have worked as a teacher's aide for the past few years and have loved it. However, I knew this too wouldn't include sharing Christ. So, I continued the search of possibilities. I took the online “what career is right for me” test out of curiosity. I saw several results I expected such as being a teacher, but I also saw results I hadn't anticipated. The one that stuck out to me was Marriage and Family Therapist. I had entertained brief, fleeting thoughts about this in the past, but I hadn't truly considered it.

Around this same time, I had a very emotional, frustrated discussion with my parents about how lost I was feeling. By the end of that conversation, the idea of Christian family counseling felt laid on my heart. Why had I not thought of something so well-suited to me before this? This career would involve the sharing of Christian values, passion for the well-being of the family, empathy and compassion, and the elimination of monotony as no one's story or struggle is the same. On the way home that night, a speaker on the radio said, “In order to find God's purpose for your life, you have to be willing to let go of what you thought it was.” I felt like this message was meant for me. I immediately researched undergraduate degrees that could lead to this career. Through all this, I decided to pursue a Bachelor's degree in Family and Human Development from Arizona State University.

In conclusion, I have considered salary, emotional basis, versatility, the opportunity to improve the lives of others and the ability to share the Gospel in my quest to find my career path. By struggling through indecision, rejection and reevaluation, I have discovered a great deal about myself and my priorities. I have found that salary means less to me than I thought, and that the opportunity to help people through times of uncertainty with the help of Jesus Christ means more to me than anything. With the help of God, I intend to pursue a career in marriage and family therapy.