Class of 2016 Alumni Spotlight
– Posted Fall 2018
Although some people see their success moving in a continuous, straight line, others find their success following a more circuitous path. The old notion of climbing directly to the top of the corporate ladder has become outdated as people begin to approach their careers as fluid and ever changing. Nicole’s dedication to curious exploration has led her to unexpected, yet significant and impactful, experiences on her way to future career success.
A plate of spaghetti is an apt description of what Nicole White’s (Class of 2016), story looks like from the outside looking in. Her plans transitioned from one extreme – the Culinary Arts industry – to another – becoming a veterinary assistant – during her high school years alone. Early in her college career, more twists were put into her career planning as she moved from a veterinary assisting major to a nursing major to a psychology major, yet fear is not a word in Nicole’s vocabulary.
Nicole seizes opportunities to explore different possibilities and pursues them with intense dedication. She’s curious about the world around her and doesn’t hesitate to try or fail. After all, the Culinary Arts program at BVT was a four-year base that was ultimately helpful preparation in determining her career path. Then there was the semester of Veterinary Assisting at Becker College in Worcester, MA where she learned a career in veterinary medicine would not be advantageous to her. That was followed up by a semester in the nursing program, where she learned her interests did not align with the medical field. Now, she’s chosen to pursue psychology, but Nicole still sees fluidity in herself and her career path.
Applying to BVT was a simple decision for Nicole. It would be a new adventure with her friends by her side, and together they would gain a head start on life by finding their passions and pursuing them at a young age. However, as the admissions process wore on, her friends slowly changed their minds about the school and tried to convince her to do the same.
“In the beginning, it was easy. I was going, all my friends were going, but then after they all changed their minds, I was like ‘wow, I’m not going to know anyone’…and then it was a tough decision to make.”
Taking the leap and embarking upon new opportunities, Nicole focused on what could be ahead. After the freshman Exploratory period, Nicole hoped to follow in her sister’s footsteps and be a part of the Health Services program. The placement would give her a head start on a career in the medical field and she could explore working in a variety of clinical settings.
Instead, Nicole experienced a detour on her road to success. She was placed in the Culinary Arts program, her second choice placement, and began to imagine a future in the industry. She enjoyed the creative freedom that came with being in the kitchen and bakeshop, but as graduation approached she realized a career in the Culinary Arts field was not for her.
“Going to BVT made me a hard worker, but pursuing Culinary Arts ended up not being the best choice for me and my future,” Nicole said. “I knew that no matter what I pursued, the life skills I learned in Culinary Arts would help me be successful.”
As she thought about her next step, she heard BVT was researching the feasibility of adding a Veterinary Assisting program in the future.
“Hearing BVT was thinking about something with pre-veterinary sparked something in my mind, and I thought that would be a great career fit for me.”
She enrolled in the Veterinary Assisting program at Becker College as the hands-on program is among the best and she could save money by living at home during her schooling. A lucrative, exciting career in the veterinary medicine industry was ahead of her – that is until the hives, sneezing, and coughing began.
“I learned I have allergies to animals and my allergies got so bad I couldn’t even be in the same room as a dog without sneezing and coughing,” Nicole said. “I thought there’s no way I will be able to be a veterinarian and be able to do it to the best of my abilities because I’ll be too busy sneezing.”
Once again, Nicole’s path had circled back to the starting line. She thought back to her time at BVT and realized she could pursue her original first-choice career path, so she switched to the Nursing program at Becker and declared a minor in psychology.
“I did one semester, and it was absolutely horrible. Anatomy and Physiology was the worst experience of my life, and I knew it wasn’t for me,” she said.
Stepping back to consider her options yet again, she thought back to her time at BVT and the career tests she had taken in the past as well as the one’s she had taken more recently. Each test noted her inclination towards psychology and social work. Her performance in current psychology classes validated her knack for the field, so Nicole declared a psychology major.
“This experience is helping me learn what I don’t want to do, which is just as important to me as what I do want to do,” Nicole said. “I feel like I have better skills to choose a career path that will truly make me happy.”
With the help of her advisor at Becker College, Nicole narrowed down her career ambitions to a single sentence: “I want to help people and change lives.” With that in mind, her advisor suggested she participate in the school’s Semester in the City program. The program gives students the opportunity to live in Boston for the semester while taking classes and participating in an internship with a nonprofit organization.
Nicole was paired with MassLEAP, whose mission is to bring youth communities together through spoken word poetry.
“It’s really about getting people to talk, getting people to listen and understand each other instead of pointing fingers and not listening,” Nicole said.
As part of the internship, Nicole worked with students to plan poetry nights and writing workshops before she was tasked with planning her own event. She chose to combine spoken word poetry with visual art in an event called Painting Poetry. The event displayed 40 pieces of art work from high school students across the nation and gave student poets an opportunity to tell their stories to the visiting crowd.
“People were really thankful for the event and I had a lot of people who said these kinds of events don’t happen often, so they jumped at the opportunity to submit their art,” she said.
The program solidified Nicole’s desire to change lives by helping people; it also showed her a way to do it. She experienced a broad range of diverse viewpoints, learned about different art forms, and discovered new parts of herself.
“I was always so afraid of change, but, once you experience it, it’s kind of addictive,” she said. “Now, I want to do crazy things and experience new things because that’s the best way to learn.”
Although her career path thus far has resembled a plate of spaghetti rather than a ladder to the top, Nicole knows these experiences have given her maturity and wisdom while shaping her thoughts about the world.
“I’ve learned to work in diverse groups, and I didn’t realize how different cultures and experiences bring so many different ideas to the table,” she said. “Diversity just works better. You have more successful ways of innovating when you have different viewpoints.”
She knows many people express frustration with young people like herself who attend vocational schools, but choose to follow different career paths than their selected trade. However, Nicole feels no one should expect someone’s learning to end after high school. After all, it’s estimated only 27 percent of people are in a job directly related to their college major, so Nicole’s diverse resume will be an asset to her.
“BVT doesn’t only teach trades. It doesn’t only teach its students to be the best in the specific fields they want to be in. BVT teaches students about real life. It teaches about community; it teaches that putting in hard work is the way to get the results you’ve been dreaming,” she said.
As Nicole prepares to enter her junior year at Becker College, she knows there are still twists and turns along the way, but she feels prepared for them because BVT taught her to be flexible and resilient in responding to unexpected changes and embracing new opportunities.
Fear is not a word in Nicole’s vocabulary, but fearless surely is. Every experience gives her new knowledge, insight, and expertise to aid in her journey to success.