How did you choose the career you are currently in?
I think my author’s bio reveals that I’m currently a full time graduate student at Northwestern University in Chicago, IL. I’m working toward my Masters of Public Health, which I’m hoping to finish in the springtime. When I started grad school in August, my thought process was direct; very black and white. I was going to complete my first degree at the University of Michigan, and then work toward my Masters of Genetic Counseling following the two years I spent in Ann Arbor. I wanted both credentials, not for a lack of trying – but out of a thirst for knowledge, out of a desire to combine preventative medicine and the miracle of life all into one dream career.
Last fall, I spent too much time at University Health Services and in the University of Michigan Hospital, and decided that living on my own, in an apartment in Michigan, was not feasible any longer. It was requiring far more energy than I had to take care of myself, to make meals and drive myself to appointments, and so I applied to transfer. I was accepted readily into Northwestern just a week later – and found myself feeling like a failure. What would people say about my giving up and moving home again? What would my parents think? What about all the money I had spent in moving and setting up my life there?
In the end, it didn’t matter. Not one bit. Because if I had stayed in Ann Arbor, things would’ve gone bad really really fast. Not only would I have had to drop out of the program I was in, but I likely wouldn’t have returned. Moving home allowed me to get the winter quarter at Northwestern under my belt, and the flexible professional program I’m currently a part of allows for as little as one or as many as five classes per quarter – meaning that although I couldn’t go to school this spring due to the time I spent hospitalized, I will still finish my degree as planned, and likely without any overwhelming challenges.
The changes in my life have made me realize that I no longer know exactly what I want to do with this degree or what will be next for me – but I know that the more time I spend in doctors offices and hospitals, the more I find importance in the classroom lessons I am learning, discussions I am having, and reading I am doing.
I’ve been thinking a lot about patient advocacy – a way to combine my passions with my interests, and my overwhelming ability to feel empathy for others. Five years ago in a conversation with a friend, he suggested that I combine my awareness of science and medicine and healthcare with my love for children – and write children’s books about being sick or attending the doctor. I dismissed the thought then, but now, it seems pretty ideal.
In truth, I have not yet done my internship or set up my culminating experience for this degree program. I do know those projects will inspire me, and will help me determine how to make the most difference during my life. For, that’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted in a career – to make someone else feel less alone, to make someone else’s day better, to share the good and the bad, the hope and the hurt with others
Amanda Kasper is a writer, reader, quote lover, CASA advocate, and non-profit believer, seeking space as a lifelong learner, passionate lover, and irreplaceable friend. Amanda tweets at @AKasper513 and blogs over at “& this I believe”