2017 Orange Honors | Whitney Jones

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Whitney Jones

We all make hundreds of decisions each day, but about a year ago I made a decision to change my life. More than 14 years after earning my first bachelor’s degree, I decided to go back to school and pursue a career as a pharmacist. As I embarked on this exciting journey, I understood the numerous obstacles I would face. Challenges such as having to work full time while being a full-time student and taking mainly math and science classes, which are subjects I have always found challenging. A particularly unique hurdle was that my husband had recently sworn in as a member of the Air Force, and we were uncertain as to where his career would take us. I knew it would be important to have a career that could move with us while helping to support his career in the Air Force.

As a senior in high school, I was convinced I knew what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I had done a good deal of public speaking while in high school and I absolutely loved it, so I decided to combine that with my love of sports and pursue a career in sports broadcasting. I thoroughly enjoyed the broadcasting and public relations classes I took in college and much of it came very naturally to me. After graduation, I took a job at a television station as a weekend sports anchor and eventually was promoted to sports director. I enjoyed the writing part, as well as the actual on-camera presentation. That broadcasting degree had changed my life, making it exactly what I thought it was supposed to be. Then a few years into my career, I met my husband. Before him, the unconventional, long hours never seemed strange; and while working holidays was tough, it never really bothered me. I understood it was part of the job.

After I met him; however, I began to look at the long-term prospects of remaining in my chosen field. All of a sudden the hours seemed a little harder to take, and working holidays became a bigger deal. As much as I loved what I did, I knew it was time for a change. Since leaving broadcasting, I have had a couple of jobs that, while I enjoyed them, I knew were not the right fit. I knew that the only way to make life what I wanted it to be was to take charge and make a change, and that led me to the moment of the life-changing decision to return to school. I understood the importance of choosing a career that would help provide for my family, one that would be in demand wherever my husband’s Air Force career took us and that was in a field I felt passionate about.

After just two semesters, I could not be happier with my decision and it has already changed my life more than I could have imagined. Learning to juggle the demands of school, work and everyday life have improved my mental toughness, resiliency and organization skills. It has forced me to look at what is really important and cut out a lot of things that were just taking up time. While subjects like writing and English come naturally to me, math and science at times seem like foreign languages. However, now that I am pursuing a Pharm D. degree, I will be taking mostly math and science classes, which has made me work very hard and realize how badly I want to succeed. I have had to work to retrain my brain to think along the math and science lines, and I am proud to be doing this as an adult when many times it is easier to just stick to an area with which you are comfortable.

Looking at how much just working toward my degree has already improved my life, I am beyond excited to see how actually earning my degree will change my and my family’s lives. I am hoping to be able to use my degree to further support my husband’s career and the mission of the Air Force. I want to use my knowledge to help the soldiers who give so much for this country, as well as the families that support them. I also understand having a degree that makes me employable wherever my husband is stationed will be invaluable to my family. My husband and I both made drastic life changes in our 30s and in essence are starting over in our careers. I am excited to see where these paths will lead us; and while starting this journey has already changed our lives for the better, I cannot wait to discover the exciting opportunities we will encounter because of a bold decision to make a change and pursue a life I never planned.


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