We are all on a journey of discovery.
The journey we take to discover ourselves is one that lasts a lifetime. It is full of highs and lows, wins and losses, tremendous joy and profound sadness. Yet each experience, each challenge, each and every decision we make or chose not to make every minute of every day helps to form the person that we are at any single moment in time.
What it took to reach this point in the journey.
Growing up, I always dreamed of being so many things but the ones that always rose to the top were dancer, performer, lawyer, business woman. I know, a little all over the place but at some point in my life, I was able to accomplish all of these things. I was a creative person with compulsive tendencies toward structure, organization and details. Of course that meant as a dancer, I was going to be a ballerina – a perfect fit! In high school I was athletic but never really a team sport person. My interests were more with the sports in which you were a part of a team but competed individually like gymnastics, tennis and karate (yes, black belt in Tai Kwon Do here).
After high school, as one of four children, I did not expect my parents to pay for my college education. Using a combination of student loans, a few small grants and working a various jobs on and off campus, I I was able to go to college. My majors and minors reflected my interests from high school – theater, dance, French (I forgot to mention that I also wanted to be a linguist). Now I will add that I fought with everything I had inside me to resist becoming an attorney. It was not that I did not love the idea of it or feel drawn to the profession. It was that I felt everyone expected it of me so, of course, I went in the opposite direction. I studied dance and loved it. Friends and I would run off to New York for weekends of lessons at the different dance companies and studios in the city. I would bandage my toes, massage my muscles, eat practically nothing for weeks on end and love every single moment of it. By the time I was ready to graduate from college, I learned that I was not cut out to dance professionally and that was OK. I continued my love of dance by joining a friend who had a dance studio and I taught dance for many years taking great pleasure in the teaching and delighting in the talent of the many dancers who came our way.
Since professional dancer was not going to be my career path, I continued with a business degree and began a long career in contracting. We live in a time now when it is the norm to move from job to job and it would be found strange to work for the same company for more than thirty years. I was fortunate enough in that I not only found work that I enjoyed but at a place that provided me with opportunity after opportunity to grow, try new things and get promoted over and over again. I started as a buyer for at the University of Maryland at Baltimore and later became the Manager of Purchasing. After transferring to the University of Maryland Baltimore County, I was promoted to a Director of Procurement and then to an Assistant Vice President for Administrative Services. It was then that I had an epiphany – I was ready to go to law school! The President of the UMBC, Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, had become a friend and mentor to me. I discussed my plans with him and he encouraged me to follow my dream.
So for three years and a summer, during the week I worked full-time day and spent my evenings and weekends at the law school. I was rarely seen by family and friends since my time was all consumed by law school. Even though it was one of the most difficult things I have ever done it was one of the most exhilarating and challenging things as well. I finished the evening program in three years (almost – that included summers, winter break courses and, much to my dismay, a one credit six-week course on the attorney in literature when I found myself one credit short of the required number for graduation. I will admit I was obsessed and completely focused on the tasks at hand. I loved every minute of it!
Life after law school.
After law school, I was able to incorporate my law degree into my work at UMBC and was soon adding University Counsel to the title I already had of Assistant Vice President for Administrative Services. While I never intended to go the law firm route, I was interested in practicing in-house in a corporate setting. With the help of my friend and mentor, the University President, I was introduced to the General Counsel at a company that was headquartered in Baltimore. A connection was made and I was soon hired into my dream job! I will never forget the first day in my new office on the 17th floor of a downtown office building with a view of the Baltimore Inner Harbor and the feeling that I had. It was all I could do to keep my new colleagues from seeing me tear up at the thrill of it. And again, I loved every moment of it. After seven years and having accomplished what I set out to do, I retired – and so the journey continues.