By: Christina Arredondo, Spring 2016 Braven Fellow at SJSU, Student Advocate Counselor, Irving Independent School District
During my last year at San José State University, I strongly believed that graduate school was going to be the next chapter of my life, and it was for a time. If you were to ask me if Texas was going to be my future home, I would have laughed and politely responded, “no way,” but life has a funny way of being unpredictable at times. Fast forward to the summer of 2017, I was preparing to take a 26-hour drive from San Jose, California to Irving, Texas. I was saying goodbye to family and friends, and hello to an entirely new chapter in my life.
I recall the roller coaster of emotions I felt, the day I decided to drop my graduate program. Many times, I tried to convince myself that I was going to be happy in graduate school, but I knew deep down that my future was in Texas. I found the courage within me to make a decision that I felt was right for me at that point in my life, and to my surprise, I received more encouragement and support from friends and family than I expected. The hardest person to tell was my father. When I broke the news to him, I strongly believed that he was going to express disappointment. To my surprise, he supported my decision and encouraged me to take my time and figure it out on my own terms. With these words of encouragement, I took a leap of faith and followed my heart. I decided to leave my program and return to Texas permanently to start the work I always knew that I was destined to do.
I knew I wanted to work in a school as a counselor, so I started to aggressively search for jobs at school districts on LinkedIn, indeed.com, and local websites. With my Bachelor’s degree under my belt, I cleaned up my resume and applied to the opportunities that perfectly aligned with my skills, knowledge and passion. I had no idea whether I was going to find a job or not, but as long as I was trying, I was going to get somewhere.
I applied for a student advocate counselor role on a Sunday and received a phone call for an interview the following day. Keep in mind, this was a role that preferred candidates with a Master’s degree in social work, and here I was with only my Bachelor’s degree in psychology. I thought back to the saying, “you won’t know unless you try,” and followed through. Later that week, I walked into the job interview for the counselor role consumed with nerves, yet confident to rock my interview. A week later, I received a follow-up interview where I was told I had been hired!
Had I given up when I saw that the job posting was looking for a candidate with a Master’s degree in social work, I wouldn’t have received this amazing job opportunity. Hearing the words “we want to offer you the position” proved to me that all my hard work, determination, and being my authentic self paid off in the end.
Leaving graduate school was a tough decision, and everyone shouldn’t make the same decision as me, but I don’t regret it at all. I know graduate school is in my future, and when I feel like it is the right time for me to pursue graduate school, I will. Braven taught me to never lose sight of my goals and always be my true authentic self, and I feel like I’ve done that now more than ever. One of my favorite quotes by Marianne Williamson says, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure”. Don’t allow fear to get in the way of being your true authentic self, follow your heart as you shape your legacy in life.