The months after graduation were a whirlwind of adventure: I went to Ghana for the last of three times (I’m willing a return trip, soon) with my favorite college service group, Student Partnership for International Aid and Development. I spent three weeks in the hot summer sun, nurturing relationships, giving back to others, and reflecting on the four years behind me. It was a beautiful transition to the next stop on my journey: finally putting my newly earned degree to the test. I strategically had the perfect internship lined up for after the return home, with Health Career Connection, an internship for minorities interested in the health sector (visit https://www.healthcareers.org/). Through this amazing program, I was placed at an adolescent health clinic, where I received tangible exposure to the health education field.
For two months, I had the opportunity to work with teens through the health education sector of the clinic. We focused on community engagement, research and presentation, and the importance of wellness initiatives in your personal life and communities. I made great friends (some of which I’m still in contact with), had terrific colleagues and professional contacts, and felt fulfilled as I was able to give back to my community through the relationships with those younger than me. It was a great time, and though I was sad to leave, I couldn’t wait to start the next part of my journey: big-girl job searching! What HCC taught me was that without the proper networking, I would get nowhere fast, even with a fancy degree from a fancy school!
And I knew they were right. So at our last luncheon, I took a few deep breaths and wiped my sweaty hands before greeting my friend’s preceptor. She was the Chief of Secretary at a huge non-profit that I just knew had to have something in store for me! I introduced myself as a newly graduated, aspiring health professional who was highly interested in how I could serve my community with the organization. She asked me to email my resume, and we parted ways in good energy; I had a feeling she had something ideal in mind. So I left the luncheon and started on my job hunt confidently.
Yet boredom struck and anxiety hit, as I started to feel the mantra we were provided with during the internship: “Network or not work!” My father, who had 17+ years in the healthcare industry, dedicated hours to reaching out to all of his colleagues; we were checking in daily, forwarding and replying to emails, desperately trying to find a position that sounded like the perfect first job.
However, all attempts seemed to be met with roadblocks except for the angelic preceptor from my internship. A month and a half later, I was sitting in my own office, excited to embark on my brand new journey at the second largest non-profit for Hispanics. I dedicated two years to working one-on-one as a Care Manager to those battling varying chronic illnesses. I developed my health and wellness advising skills, learning how to assess barriers to health and how to make myself a malleable advocate to others. With commitment and drive, I saw myself becoming a tireless servant and transforming the lives of my clients through the nurturing of intrapersonal relationships. I was inspired daily and learned that I have many passions that I incorporated into doing my job. This led me to further fine-tune my gifts of communication, empathy, expression, and creativity. Over time, I’d started developing a plan for my own health and wellness blog and advising business.
I love that, because of this, I’ve been re-discovering my love for writing, teaching, and connecting with people through the heart space. This journey has taken many turns, personal ones, and career, and I’m now in a place of merging all stops into one path.
In November, I made a huge career choice and quit my job to start anew. I did some networking prior, and had a few choices lined up, but remained jobless for five months. What a REALITY CHECK this decision gave me! On the one hand, I had five months to work on myself: bottled up emotions showed themselves, family issues heightened to be healed, and relationship problems arose for re-assessing dynamics. I also faced financial struggles, forcing me to become resourceful as well as more open and communicative about my needs.
On the other hand, I had five months to evaluate the choices I’d made up until this point in life. I realized that at times, I made things way too hard for myself. While my life has been full of adventure, spontaneity, and physical fulfillment, my experiences usually came with unpreparedness, stubbornness with allowing the guidance of others, and almost blind faith in myself!
Presently I’m working part-time as a Reproductive Health Specialist at a different non-profit, as well as volunteering and training at a Holistic Recovery Center (substance abuse and mental health)! Taking this leap of faith has done one of the most amazing things for me: showed me my own strength, as well as the strength of the support system I developed over the years. I’m constantly reminded that I was on the right track with putting my ambitions first throughout High School and College. I set myself up with an impressive resume that showcases a variety of passions and skills I developed to pursue those passions. I made sure I was advancing myself through every fall, spring, and summer break, and thankfully, I had the support of my family and friends through the journey. Whether it was financially, emotionally, or physically, learning how to communicate my needs with trusted hearts and minds has put me in a place of abundance regarding my opportunities for growth. As I share my story and gifts with others, I want to make sure to encourage them to do the same.
As a woman of color, coming from a family and environment plagued with a multitude of physical and mental health concerns, I know all too well that we are battling demons deeper than surface level. I encourage the readers of this post to engage in creative expression, whether it be writing, dancing, or creating other forms of art. In order to grow “well” you must try to stay grounded, and you must know yourself to do so! While in high school and college, I made sure I had tons of creative fun: step team, cheerleading, poetry, and singing. If I didn’t have these outlets, I might have sought other things to buy my time, and who knows what those things could’ve been!
I’ve created a platform to build on this thought and would love to engage with you all on it. I aspire to do health and wellness advising and hope to nurture relationships with anyone who can resonate with my story!
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