In high school I felt that serving my country was important, and I was interested in the military but didn't know if it was a good fit for me. I don't come from a military family, none of my friends pursued it and I really had no idea what it entailed, but I applied anyway.
I received an Army ROTC scholarship to Boston University, my top choice. Off I went. That first year I fully leaned into Army ROTC and found out that not only was I good at it, but I loved it. I graduated from BU and was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the United States Army in 2003, just as our nation was starting two wars.
I served seven years in the Army, and even though I loved my time there I wanted to move on to other endeavors. I was interested in business school but didn't want to go to a full-time program like my friends who had already gotten out of the Army, so I again took a different path than them. I enrolled in an evening MBA program and worked in sales at Dell. If working full-time while doing a rigorous MBA program isn't fully leaning in, I don't know what is. It was a lot on my plate all at once, but I was glad for the extra experience I got by working.
With one year left to go in my MBA program I again charted my own path. I had enjoyed the sales job but I knew I didn't want to be in sales forever, so I left my job and took a summer internship. It was certainly scary to quit my full-time job with a year to go until graduation, but I wanted to use my time in school to gain as much professional experience as possible.
Again, I was on a path that no one else I knew was on, but am so glad I did it. I gained professional experiences that I never would have had if I had just stayed in my job. And I was able to do some volunteer work with an organization called Girls on the Run that I had always wanted to do.
This spring I'm graduating and will leave Texas to start a job in Washington, D.C. The job somehow manages to perfectly combine my military and business school experiences. It's definitely a different role than most people take when they graduate from an MBA program and I never would have found it had I not been willing to fully lean in to my own personal career path.
I’m very much looking forward to moving on to my new job and new city. I don’t think there is any way I would have ended up here if I hadn’t fully leaned in to each career decision I have made, pushing into the direction I knew I needed to be traveling.
I have always taken a different path than anyone I've known. To me, leaning in has meant turning left when everyone else was turning right and trusting that just because my compass seemed to be pointing in a different direction then everyone else’s, that didn’t mean that it was pointing in the wrong direction.