At 3 years old, no one ever says I want to be a Higher Ed professional when I grow up. Because honestly, how many people actually know what that is right now. Trust me, not a lot, because people never really understand what I do even after telling them. But how did I get an interest in higher education? Well, my friend, it’s been a journey, hell, it’s still a journey!
I was bit with the “Higher Ed Bug” in college. That when I knew I wanted to advocate for college students. I wanted to pay it forward because my college life was a testament to my growth as a person.
I was an RA in college, worked in student life, founded a club, and was in a sorority. Chile, I was busy. I was what the administration called a “Student Leader.” I loved hosting programs for my campus and helping students.
When it came to academics, I started off rocky, but I ended up KILLING IT! I made the deans list from my 2nd year – to my 5th year at LIU Brooklyn. Senior year of college, I started to work on prerequisites to get into the graduate Speech Pathology program. Boy, was that hard? I only wanted to do that because I wasn’t sure what I precisely wanted to do after college.
My original major was psychology with a minor in Fine Arts. At first, I wanted to be an art therapist. Yet, after seeing how much they get paid and how many schools I would have to complete, that was short-lived. After a few classes in the Speech Pathology Program, I knew that it was not it.
After I graduated, my RHD told me that I could return as a Complex Coordinator with a few conditions attached to it. One, I could not get paid, but I could get a stipend for my work. And two, I would need to enroll in a graduate program at the school. Those were the qualifications for the role. With fewer options, I applied and got accepted into the School Counseling Program. I know what your thinking, Rachel, that’s the same thing. Wrong. School Counseling is a program to become a guidance counselor for K-12 education.
From my middle school position, I had quickly learned that K-12 was NOT for me, especially in the city. I remember when the 8th graders got their acceptance/denial letters from their specialized schools. That was one of the most heartbreaking things you can see a preteen go through. Students were crying and saying “, Ms. Rachel why don’t they want me.” Ugh! What do you even say to a kid at that point? That was proof that the system was far too broken for me to do this as a career. I was also far too much of an empath to see that happen every year to young kids.
When I decided to no longer go to become a guidance counselor, I talked to my mentors and the dean of students at the time. Their eyes lit up. They said that they knew that I would one day tell them I was interested in Higher Ed. It’s crazy how some people see things in you before you see it in yourself.
My supervisor always told me I had a knack for listening and connecting with students. I thought nothing of it. I thought it was important for students to feel validated like I always was.
My first evaluation as a Complex Coordinator solidified my place in Higher Education. I received overwhelmingly positive reviews from co-workers, peers from other departments, and my student staff. I was shocked because I honestly felt like I wasn’t doing a good job. Sometimes you think you’re not good enough or not capable of the things you are already doing. Sometimes it takes reflection and sometimes outside sources to help you see the big picture.
From then on, I knew higher ed was for me. Did you have a similar experience finding your path? What is your passion? Are you fulfilled in your career? Let’s talk more about it below in the comments!
2 thoughts on “The Game Chose Me”
People never understand my job either when I say I’m a credentialing manger lol 😂
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People stay confused if it’s not the traditional job titles that they are used to!