The Women in Housing series is a month-long project featuring the voices, stories, and experiences of women who currently or formerly work in housing and residence life. Today's post was written by Lovey Marshall.
My career path is a non-traditional one. From working at a small, private Catholic institution for seven years to getting an online Master’s degree while working a full time job to losing my job from a situation that I had little control over, it is non-traditional in every way.
I worked in residence life at a large state university and was charged with working on a special project that would be the first of its kind for the institution. I was nervous about everything that was attached to this project but excited that I was entrusted with overseeing it. That same week I was having some car issues and planned to go home to get a new car. It was shaping up to be a big week. I was in possession of a master key for my building because it was a new building that had some construction issues, one of those issues being the keys to my apartment were wrong. I had to have this key to get into my apartment. Fast forward that (successful) week to the end where I was home getting my new car. I was so excited that I gave my entire key chain to the car dealer who was looking at my trade in. I went on my test drive, did my paperwork… It was a three-hour process. When I was about to leave, I realized that my original set of keys was never given back to me. The folks at the dealership, which had closed for the day, told me to come back in the morning because the keys were believed to be locked in the car. But they weren’t. My keys were nowhere to be found. When I got back to the institution on Monday, I had no idea that Wednesday would be my last day of employment.
I quickly got back into the job search and found a new position. Unfortunately, I never felt connected to the institution until a group of students under my purview made a mistake. I was immediately transported back to my experience that happened two years prior and started thinking about what I needed at that time. I went into support mode. I spoke with each student and told them my story, how I had been angry for two years, how I went to the National Housing Training Institute over the summer and was told that bad things happen in our careers and counseling helps us to deal with them. How I had been going to counseling, how my counselor was a reader of those who diligently seek her help. How I had the courage to present at a conference and how ultimately it allowed me to share my story with them. It dawned on me, with the help of my best friend, that I was fired from that institution for this moment to be with that group of students and to help them navigate their situation. I finally felt like I had a purpose for being at the institution and connected all at the same time. I supported that group of students throughout the following semester, asking them about their goals, holding them accountable to those goals and encouraging them to get help to deal with the situation so they didn’t become angry like I had. I wanted them to know that people make mistakes but those mistakes don’t define who they are as a person. It took me a long time to realize that.
So for 2017, I am focusing on Restoration (#oneword). I am finally in a place where I am healing from things that have happened in my career. I am working to restore who I was before I was fired and moving past that so I can be who I know I am. This one moment, doesn’t define me or my career. I do that and I will keep reminding myself -- and others -- that I am more than my mistakes.
Lovey Marshall is an Area Coordinator in Housing and Residence Life. She is a Baltimore Ravens fan, Zumba-holic and Starbucks lover. If you don’t have a favorite Starbucks drink, you should try a Chai tea latte with six pumps of vanilla, no water, no foam with whipped cream stirred in and on top, extra hot. You won’t be disappointed.
The Women in Housing series is sponsored by Adirondack Solutions.