I stumbled across this line from Douglas Adams a few years ago and I was struck by how completely it encapsulated my path to student affairs. Unlike many of my fellow #MySAPath writers, I never intended to become involved in student affairs. My undergraduate degree was in biology – cellular and molecular biology, to be exact. I happily spent my days at the lab bench exploring the intricacies of the Drosophila melanogaster (fruit fly) genome. Being far more comfortable behind a microscope than I was in front of a crowd, I decided to pursue the career path of a researcher. Upon completion of my BSc I enrolled in a master of science in medicine. Shortly after my first year in the program, a Lemony Snicket-esque series of unfortunate events led me to seriously question if I wanted to finish my MSc and continue working in science.
My education and job experience had all been leading up to a research career in science. Quite unexpectedly, the path I had planned and walked since high school was no longer the path I wanted to travel. What was I supposed to do now?
I was terrified when I made the decision to leave science behind, but I knew I needed to do it. As the very wise Third Doctor once said, “Courage isn’t just a matter of not being frightened, you know. It’s being afraid and doing what you have to do anyway.” My decision to quit my MSc and leave science resulted in a spontaneous application to and acceptance of a position as a student recruitment officer at my local four-year university. Suddenly, I was out from behind my beloved microscope and traveling across Canada and the United States giving presentations in front of hundreds of prospective high school students. Surprisingly, I felt more at home meeting with and helping prospective students than I had ever felt in the lab.
Working with students and helping them choose their post-secondary path seemed to be a natural fit for me. With the memory of my MSc program fading away in the background, I took a chance and enrolled in a master of education in post-secondary studies.
Fast forward six years, and my passion for student affairs and helping students has not diminished in the slightest. I’ve held two more student affairs positions since then, each one allowing me to reach out and help an ever growing circle of students. I’ve helped new students choose their academic path, designed programs to help students acclimate to the world of online learning and earned national and international recognition for my university.
I’ve never forgotten my time in science or the wonderful people I had the privilege to work with. We are the sum of our experiences, good and bad, and my experiences in the field of science helped shape me into the person I am today. Even though it wasn’t meant to be, I wouldn’t wish away one moment of it. I now have a career I love and the opportunity to make a positive impact on the lives of so many wonderful students.
I definitely didn’t plan to be involved in student affairs, but I’m glad I ended up here. Without a doubt, it’s where I am meant to be.