Getting A Jump Start On A Career Change – Own Your Journey Conversation


– Good afternoon, I’m Ted Rockwell, from the division of Continuing
Education at CU Boulder and thank you for joining us today, for or Facebook Live session. Discussing what it’s
like to go back to school as an adult student and in
particular using education to change your career. I’d like to thank Lisa Beckelhymer, for joining me here today. Why don’t you tell us a little
bit about your background. What were you doing prior
to coming to CU Boulder? What led you to us? – So what led me here
was I moved to Boulder and I wasn’t expecting
to come back to school. I was in Dallas, Texas for about 20 years and my husband and I got to a point there where we were ready for a change. I owned a children’s music studio, so teaching early childhood
music, infants, toddlers and their parents something
called Kindermusik. Did some piano and guitar lessons. Had quite a sizable business there and my husband and I reached
a point where we said, we think we’re ready for a change. We had fallen in love with Boulder, after visiting a few times and said, if we’re gonna go for it, let’s go for it. And we got here and we
kind of just thought, everything would fall into place and we just keep doing the
same thing we had done before and it would all magically play out. And we got here and we said
we’re in a different place and things are completely different and everything about it said, there’s something else out there. And so we started to try
and wrestle with that and figure out what that would be. And I really did think that I would just, kinda set up doing the same things that I was doing before. And as it turned out,
some things fell through that I had prearranged and hoped for. And as that first nine
months or so went on, I realized I was feeling very unsettled and was looking around to
see what could be next? And then I realized,
there’s a great university, about a mile and a half from my house and maybe there’s something there, maybe there’s a new
career somewhere for me but I didn’t know what it was and I kept coming up with
speech language pathology as an option. And being in education, I was also thinking something
along the lines of education. So I explored a little bit
online and looked at the program and thought, okay, well sign me up, I’ll be a speech pathologist. And they said, well you
need a masters degree. And before that you also
have to get admitted and before that you also have to have a bunch of prerequisites. And I thought, okay,
do I want this or not? And so I started a process of, let’s see if we’re gonna do this. And I started to put the pieces
into place and here we are. – So how did you, sound like you arrived, in speech language pathology. What was it from maybe your past career that led you to that decision? – So I worked with early childhood ages, which is infant, toddlers, young children, in an age when they’re
language is exploding. So I was always working with parents, about how to nurture your child’s language and how to give them
language (mumbles) experience and use their voices,
whether it’s babbling or reading stories to your children. And I had met a lot of speech
pathologists over the years who had brought their own
children to my classes and they said this is such
a valuable experience, for my child. So I had known some speech
pathologists over the years and I was always very
intrigued by their career. Then I also realized that
it was a very solid career, when you are a musician and self employed. I had a solid thing going in Dallas but restarting that here was
not, just go out and do it. You have to go through a
lot of steps to get there. And speech language pathology felt very, much a good path for the long haul for me, if I was going to make a
pivot in a new direction, it felt like there were
a lot of options and in, particular with speech you
can go in so many directions, you can go with children,
you can go with adults, you can go with voice language, folks with strokes, all
kinds of areas of practice, medical, educational, private practice. So there’s so many great
work options I thought, okay, my options are wide open. – So as I understand, we’ve
had done a little bit of, information on you,
where you come from and, this isn’t the first grad, this isn’t even the second
graduate degree you’ve pursued, this is the third graduate degree that you’re pursuing, right? So what’s different this time, about getting started
on this graduate degree, than your prior degrees? – So yes, this is my third masters and I think I’m a little
bit crazy but here I am, I’m almost done. I would probably not
have gone back to school, except that I knew that
I wanted this career and so it meant a lot
and the way to do it, was to go back to school so
I wasn’t afraid to do that. Even though it wasn’t
in the original plan, my original degrees went
straight from undergrad, into a master’s of music education. In that process there was no thinking. You just kind of, you become a teacher and you get a masters. That’s the way it is and you
just go through this path and there’s no break in the
path and it’s all very natural. Your study skills are all in place. I took the GRE way back
when and did very well. Didn’t have to study for it. From that point I
identified that I wanted to, study under professor through
a Master of Theology program because I was looking at
doing some church music work. And again, that was just
kind of, okay, next step. Just go right there. So when I came back this time, the first time I retook the GRE, they don’t honor scores
from that long ago. And when I took it, I took
it cold the first time and did fine but not as well
as I could have and started, had to start, just
reupping those study skills and digging way back to find things. But moving forward, once
I got in the program, the value of choosing something, rather than just kinda
going on a set path is huge. I have really appreciated
what I learned and, I feel like the questions
I ask in class are, from a different angle. I’m not looking to just gain knowledge. I’m looking to integrate what I already know about something. Maybe a child’s language, maybe how children develop. Maybe looking at a member of my family that I’ve known who has been affected by something in the speech
language pathology world and integrating that so that I
have this level of experience that I’m bringing. And the appreciation is just so completely different than just, going through sort of an automated, yeah, I’m just gonna go get
a degree and do it that way. It just feels like I’m getting
so much more out of it, than the first time around. – That’s excellent, sounds
like you’re a fairly motivated and driven individual and
so from what I understand, you’re taking an accelerated
path towards your degree. When we talk a little bit about that. You said that your
advisors and some others, have thought that you were crazy, in relation to the number of courses that you’re planning to take. How are you making that work? – So I entered the department
in October that year and learned that I needed
24 hours of prerequisites to be admitted and get into the program, the following August. And in my mind I did not because the program starts in August, in my mind, I didn’t
have an option to wait and try to spread those prerequisites out. If I was gonna do this,
I was gonna do this now. So how do you get in that many hours, when you’re not even enrolled
and anything like that? So that’s when I came upon Continuing Ed. One of my advisors in the
department was really helpful, in helping me identify
all the different options, for courses I could take that would count toward
those prerequisites that they would honor in the department. And I started just digging how can I get these done in
as creative way as possible, whether on campus or online. And the first course I’ve
found through Continuing Ed, was a self paced course
in Biological Psychology, I think is what it was called. And I was able to finish that. You can do it as fast as you can, you do all the readings,
take all the exams. So I jumped right in, got that one done I think in three weeks and jumped into the next one which was a Statistics course online. That was a little bit rough, not having been in school
for quite a few years. And then my advisor got me
into some classes on campus. That was also via Continuing Ed because I was a non-degree
seeking students. – Via the access program. – And then I did a couple
more classes online through other universities,
got all those prereqs and, miraculously got admitted to the, very competitive program here on campus and was able to start the masters
program in August of 2017. – Oh, that’s excellent. So I just like to take this opportunity to invite the audience. If you have any questions for Lisa, go ahead and submit them on the Facebook, the comment section below
(mumbles) there and, we’ll go ahead and answer them here, later in our interview here. So how was your perspective
on education change, since you went through your
first two masters degree and a bachelor’s degree? Now that you’ve been out
doing your own business and you’ve come back, talk a little bit more about the value that education has in
pursuing your new career. – Well, as I said, I
appreciate a lot more. I appreciate the ability
to reinvent myself, in the middle of my career. So going into a field that
requires a master’s degree. Not only a particular master’s degree but a clinical master’s degree, meaning that we have to have
a lot of clinical hours, in addition to our coursework. There’s no other path to this degree. And so if you want it,
you have to go this way. And being able to choose that
as a way to reinvent myself and to look and say I had
a great 20 year career. It was extremely fulfilling. There was never a bad moment in my, years as a Kindermusik and
piano teacher in Dallas. I have to say it was a
delight everyday, so much fun. And to look at that and
say that was one chapter and now to say I have probably
20ish years for new career and the gift that is to be able to do, two really wonderful things ’cause this is gonna be
just as exciting and, fulfilling as the first. So I’m super excited about that. – So in some prior interviews to getting prepared for
this conversation today, the phrase reverse
procrastinator has come up. I had never heard that before, but I heard you explain it to
me on the phone the other day and I felt like that could
be an interesting thing, for audience to understand, what is a reverse procrastinator and what does that mean to you? – I may have invented the phrase myself ’cause I’ve never heard
anybody else say it, unless maybe I’m just a crazy person. So procrastination is
when you put up something to the last minute, I
do the exact opposite by reversing that process and do everything as soon as possible. That is a skill I learned
as a business person. I think when you are running a business and you’ve got multiple employees and multiple clients depending on you and Monday morning is on its
way and things aren’t done. There’s nobody else to do it and you’ve got to kick it into gear. So the best, especially when
you’re running a business, but almost in any career, there’s always gonna be fires to put out and things are always
gonna pop up unexpectedly. So the more you can get those things done that are predictable, get them done early, then you leave yourself energy and space, for those other things. So that’s why I say I’m
a reverse procrastinator. So when an assignment comes down and it’s due Sunday night at midnight, there are people who turn it
in at Sunday at 11:59 p.m. I am person who starts it immediately, that very day that it’s assigned and hopefully I take a lot of pride, in turning it in at least 24 hours early. (laughing) Maybe I’m just a nerd, is that the word? Instead of reverse
procrastinator, just a nerd. – I love reverse procrastinator. – Sounds better. – So what kinds of advice
would you have for maybe, an adult student who want to come back who may not be a reverse procrastinator? Who doesn’t have their act together, in such a way that they can foresee that they’re gonna procrastinate later and therefore that
she’ll get it done today. What kinds of advice would you have, for those adults if
they’re looking to return? – So the first thing I think is, especially considering
our whole life upheaval that preceded my coming back to school, there’s never a right time to do anything. Sometimes we live life thinking, okay, if I just get this
all in order, if I just, I don’t have children but if the children are in school now, I’ll be able to do this. Or if I get my finances in order, I’ll be able to afford this. And yes, you wanna be prepared and yes, you want to be prudent
when making big decisions that have financial implications
and family implications at the same time, if there’s
an opportunity to go for it, go for it because there’s probably, not gonna be a better time. I frequently advise teachers
who worked for me who were, thinking of doing things
like this or taking big moves or taking big leaps in
their lives, I’d say, do what you can when you can do it. If you can go for it, you might not get this opportunity again. And I’m taking my own advice now. So things might not be perfectly in line, education has changed quite a bit, since I was doing it a long time ago and the technology is not as
intimidating as I expected. My very first course was online and, took away little figuring
out how to use the system. And like I said, I finished
the course in three weeks so it couldn’t have been that bad, right? I took statistics online, so
it couldn’t have been that bad. There is a lot more of
a collaboration value, in education now than there was
when I went 20ish years ago, where back then it felt
like you were competing, you’re competing against yourself, you’re competing for
the high grade in class, things like that. Now it’s more group oriented and everybody is helping one another. If you missed some content in the class, people are happy to chip
in and give their notes, group study guide, study
groups and things like that, are always going on. So there are resources, there are peers to help manage all of these things. People are especially helpful. – So I have a question from the audience but it kinda leads into what, we were just talking about there. How does your previous career experience, change the way that you are
a student especially versus how other students are
approaching their education that don’t have the
experience that you have? – I think we get into reverse
procrastination there. So just managing a lot so I know how to juggle a lot of balls, wear a lot of hats being a business owner, and I’m also very good at balance so that has helped me a lot. Because there are moments when I say, I know I probably need
to just put my head down and work on something but
it’s really important, for my husband and I to take a bike ride together this morning. And so I find that balance. And on the other side, some
days I just say, you know what? I’m in front of my computer right now. Don’t talk to me unless it’s an emergency ’cause I gotta focus. So you have to find the balance in both. And I think if you have
some good management skills from another career that’s only going to, be an asset in this. – Well maybe you can share an
anecdote along those lines. I understand that, breaks
happen in the middle of having to do schoolwork. We recently had one
for Thanksgiving break. Maybe you have an anecdote
you could share with us that demonstrates what
you’re talking about there. – So I was reflecting on
two Thanksgivings ago, when I started the prerequisites. I started that online,
Continuing Ed class. I think I started at Thanksgiving morning because my husband was working and we were going over
to our neighbors later. So they were taking care of the food. I had the house to myself. It was all quiet and I just dove in and sometimes those are the best times. And you can just dive in and do things and you don’t have to always operate on, a schedule that everybody
else operates on. Maybe you’re a late night person, maybe you’re an early morning person. I’m an early person so
there are days of the week that I get up extra early
and can get a lot done, when things are quiet and
nothing interrupts me. So there’s a lot of ways to get it done that don’t look like a typical
traditional college day that I might’ve known way back when. – So we have all sorts of questions, coming in from the audience. So I’m gonna ask you the
next one coming up from them. What do you wish someone
would have told you, about the transition from
being a business owner to being a student? – The hardest part for me, there were a couple hard parts
about putting on the brakes. So I was going 100 miles an hour, running a very big business, shuffling a lot of different directions and loving what I did. And then I came to a
complete screeching halt that was really hard, like just a real adjustment for me and that’s been difficult
through the whole process. But equally difficult was
not feeling generative, not feeling like I was contributing that I was doing all
this very much for myself and that’s one of the wonderful
things about the program, in speech language pathology, is that we are seeing clients
actively in our clinic, from day one, so that I was able to through my clinical experience, feel like I was helping folks early on and that has helped a lot. But I’ve also kept up some of
my things that I did before. So I still teach piano
lessons here in Boulder and do a few other little activities to kinda keep my toes in that water too. – So what age groups do you teach piano? – Piano here in Boulder,
kindergarten through seventh grade, are my group. – They’re you’re favorite
students from that experience. – They’re all my favorites. (laughing) – So what wisdom would
you share with others who are considering a new
degree to change their career? – As I said, do what you
can when you’re ready. Whatever you need to do to line things up. I would advise making sure your
finances are in a good place and your family balance
is in a good place. Doesn’t have to be perfect, there’s plenty of financial aid out there that wasn’t a choice for me and my family but you’re going to be taking a break. You’re going to be taking
a hit in your income, for some period of time
in order to manage this. You can’t do everything that being said, ask me again in a year or two,
but it should pay for itself. – Well, and I wonder if, we
find that many adults students who were thinking of coming
back to school after many years, face a lot of anxiety around that. And so I’m wondering, what
you might say to those folks who are kind of on the ledge of and maybe it’s not even
for a change in career but it’s just, I’d like
to go back to school but I feel like I’m gonna be singled out because I’m older than everyone else or I can’t afford it or whatever. You said there’s no good time. No better time than the present, but how did you find yourself
overcoming those anxieties? – One way is to feel like I
had something to contribute, based on where I was in life
and my previous experience so I feel like I have things to add, my cohort in speech language
pathology recognizes that and they affirmed me for that and then I recognize
them for what they bring, their level of energy and the fact that they can
start studying for a test, about two hours before and, get a better grade than me sometimes, it all works together and
everybody has something to contribute and I’ve surprised myself at being able to hack it, just academically going into
something totally different and this really couldn’t be
more different than music and surprised myself. – Yeah, I can imagine that
that’s gotta be intimidating. And this plays into a
question someone has asked us, on Facebook, which is, I
can imagine that it’s scary to think about even changing a career, what gave you the confidence to think that you could do that? – I’m not sure I had the
confidence right away to tell you the truth. I just kinda jump into
things, I’m a leaper and, I just go, all systems
go and don’t look back. And in fact when I started
that Continuing Ed class that led to the continued prerequisites to get into the program. I hadn’t been admitted to the program. I didn’t find I was admitted until, the end of April that year and I had already invested
in multiple online classes, multiple on campus classes, just fingers crossed and saying, if I’m going for this, I’m going for it. – So had you considered other programs? It sounded a little bit like, the way you described
it’s like I got in here and that was what I wanted. – It was what I wanted. I applied also for a
Doctor of Education program at Denver and I was
admitted to that as well and when I got that admission
I actually postponed it, hoping for this program
because by that point, I realized this is where I wanted to be. And so again, the confidence
was somewhat there that I would probably make it but also just kinda going for it and not knowing what would come. And that’s part of it. – I’d love to get some of
the energy that you have. It feels like you really
have a good vision, for where things can go and whether or not you think
you have the confidence. I think others are (mumbles), I wish I had her confidence. (laughs) – I’ve doubted myself
plenty of times believe me. Every time I take a test, I’m like, oh. Sometimes things feel a
little fuzzy and you do find I think I will say that
the professors here, particularly at CU the
instructors are so generous, in every way, they are
generous with their knowledge and their expertise and
their willingness to help, their office hours you can go in, if you have a big assignment,
you can go in there and they will review it for
you and say you’re on track, you’re off track. There’s nothing that’s scary about it. Sometimes it feels a little bit heavy but they really are supportive here. That’s been really surprising. Surprisingly good. – Yeah, so what’s next for you? I mean, it seems like
three graduate degrees, you’re starting a new profession and, what’s going to happen after you graduate. – No more school. (laughing) Lemme get that out right now. A week from tonight I will
take my last test ever. And I do say ever. So academic classes are
over for us next week, in the spring we go on internships. I’m pretty excited about that because I’ll get back in the real world and will be working both
at a school as an intern, as speech language pathology
intern and then the medical, in Jude’s Medical Center as an intern. Then after that I will be eligible to, work as what we call a Clinical Fellow, which is again supervised but independent. So I’ll actually be working and off we go. – That’s wonderful, congratulations, on taking your last test. It maybe a little early
but thank you so much, for taking the time to talk to us today. – Thank you. – And share your experiences
with the students out there that maybe thinking about
taking the leap as an adult. I’m sure that there’s
nothing but good things and great things ahead for you and good luck in your internships. – Thank you. – And thank you all for joining us today, for this Facebook Live
session with Lisa Beckelhimer. Happy holidays and happy new year. We’ll see you in 2019 for
more Facebook Live sessions with Continuing Education at CU Boulder.

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