Finding My Niche

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Northwest Vista College

I am an adult learner, returning to school after completing a bachelor’s degree, raising a family and having over 20 years of work experience.

I want an associate’s degree from NVC in order to build upon my skill set and to make myself more marketable for a career. When I graduated from college 15 years ago, experience was the most important trait employers looked for.

Today, employers are caught up in the letters and numbers following your name. They want to see degrees and certifications. While I want an associates from NVC, I have to pay for the entire degree out of my own pocket because there is not any financial aid for going backwards in school degree levels.

I returned to school, beginning with a certificate at NVC, in order to determine what would be my best route for continuing my education. While a master’s degree seems like the logical next step for someone who holds a bachelors degree, it isn’t always feasible. Graduate school is expensive. In the science fields, a master’s degree is often a stepping stone to a doctorate, but it it often does not help a person increase their salary value. Who wants to spend two years of their life and thousands of dollars to be worth the same rate they were worth with a bachelor’s degree?

Then there is determining which degree to pursue. Do I want to be a medical doctor, a pharmacist, a nurse, a professor or teach at a two-year school like NVC? Do I want to continue being a research scientist or administrator? Do I want a MBA? The questions are numerous.

I have taken multiple aptitude tests over the years. One skill that regularly appeared was working with computers. I was raised by computer engineers and software programmers. I have considered computers my evil step siblings.

NVC offered a Web Design course and I enrolled in it. I decided I might as well prove I was either good with computers or rule out that idea. Guess what? I fell for it. Web design is challenging and very rewarding when I create a properly functioning and aesthetically pleasing website. Then I took a programming class. Wow. This fully allowed me to get very technical and very specific. Programming is control! My lifelong love of building puzzles has now been translated into a skill set I can utilize for a rewarding career. The drawback to discovering computers after completing my bachelor’s degree is that many jobs, and most advanced degree programs, require a bachelor’s degree in computer science. I am not interesting in reinventing the wheel for my career.

Now, I finally have a much more finite focus. I am very well versed in the science of biology and healthcare. I have over four years of professional medical research experience. This is a skill set that I want to build upon. I have finally found a program that combines all of my career interests and a decent salary when completed. I am applying for a Master of Public Health program that focuses on Public Health Informatics. This is where I can see myself being happy and productive, applying my skill set to a field that helps many people live healthier and more productive lives. I am grateful for NVC being available and affordable enough for me to sort through my interests and discover my marketable talents, even after I completed my associates degree.

By NVC Student C. Kalyn Reim

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