Working as a Direct Support Professional provided me with many opportunities to teach others new skills.
I was first introduced to a technology curriculum in middle school, where we were given the opportunity to try out a variety of industries, which is when my love for innovation began. We took part in several hands on projects such as building rockets and bridges, as well as utilizing Computer Numeric Control (CNC) machines. As I grew older, I brought my love of technology into high school. My school had a new program where I was able to receive college credit through Project Lead the Way (PLTW) at Rochester Institute for Technology. During high school, I learned computer-aided design, manufacturing, and even digital electronics in which we soldered electronic circuit boards!
During my senior year of high school I enrolled in Hudson Valley Community College, the local community college as an early admissions student which gave me the opportunity to take a semester of college credit while enrolled in high school. Even though I never attended high school once during my senior year I still was able to play my senior year on the Varsity Field Hockey team, attend my Senior Prom, and walk down the aisle during my graduation with National Honor Society, High Honors, and 200+ hours of community service. Leaving high school early seemed like an awesome opportunity at 16 years old (and I never even had to take an SAT!)
My first job was working at a local retirement home where I fell in love with working with people and began to pursue a degree in Psychology at The University at Albany-State University of New York. In order to continue attending college I accepted a second job working at my local YMCA as a Lifeguard and Swim Lesson Instructor. I had swum competitively for almost a decade and it seemed like it was almost expected that I become a lifeguard. I made sure to learn everything I could from my managers, who happened to be the same people who taught me how to swim in the first place. I loved using the psychology of motivation to help people achieve their goals.
Still attending college, I wound up getting hired as Direct Support Professional working with developmentally disabled individuals in residential care settings. Our job was to assist the individuals receiving our services to live as independently as possible in their day to day lives. Working as a Direct Support Professional, I was given the opportunity to work with individuals with varying capabilities and diagnoses. I was able to utilize my psychology education to better understand and serve the individuals in our service. I was given the opportunity to strength my communication skills as many individuals in our service did not communicate to us verbally. My coworkers had varying backgrounds and experiences bringing them into the industry. This ability to work on a multi-disciplinary team provided me with the skills necessary to work in a diverse work environment.
After working in the psychology field I began to crave more, while assisting someone in their time of need was amazing experience. I always remembered how fun using a band saw was in high school! I was always a great math student and I loved technology. I reflect back to my school age experiences and my childhood dream to become a female engineer. As I began to think about my future more, I wondered why it was just a dream. Why couldn’t I still become an engineer?
May the force be with you, Meaghan.