Friday, December 12, 2014

You Want to do WHAT for a Living?!

Since the day I entered grad school, people have asked me what I want to do when I graduate. It’s felt a lot like the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question, except now I am grown up, and I actually have to give up hope on the whole horse whisperer/ballerina thing.

For a while, I didn’t really know how to answer. I want to talk about sex for a living. Except you can’t really say that to your grandma or your boyfriend’s family because how awkward is that. So I’d say something like, “I want to work in public health,” which usually prompted the follow-up question, “why?” The why was something I didn’t feel like I could talk about either.

During my second and third years of undergrad, I spent a year volunteering in the wellness center on campus teaching fellow students how to properly use condoms and other barriers, about consent, and why/where/how to get tested for STIs. Almost every day, I was both impressed by how many people voluntarily came into my sessions and shocked by how many college-aged students, male and female, didn’t know how to use a condom. I loved it. I loved it so much I can’t even put it into words. Some part of me felt like I was making a difference on my campus, but mostly I just thought it was fun. I had two revelations of sorts during my time there: “This information would have been so helpful when I was younger,” and “I wish I could do this for a career, forever.”

It was around this time that I learned that reproductive health education/program planning/implementation was a legit career. Not like Coach Carr, I don’t want to be a health teacher, but I learned that I could take a very broad Master’s and apply it to a more specific area of health. So I applied, was accepted and enrolled. Somehow, some way, talking about sex was going to be my life because I thought it was fun.

Over the past two years, I want to talk about sex turned into I want to work to make sure adolescents receive comprehensive sex education to continue to decrease teen pregnancy and start to decrease adolescent STI rates. I want to ensure that adolescents today don’t receive the same, inadequate, incomplete sex education that I received. I want to create programs that provide access to necessary contraception. I could go on. What started as a selfish career path led me to a Master’s program that was about improving the health and lives of entire populations. This Master’s program led me to realize that, as fun as it would be to sit around and write a sex advice column for a living, Dan Savage has some very large shoes that I don’t want to try to fill. As nervous as I am to graduate and find a job, I’m so excited for what’s next.

 I’ve also found the perfect answer to the original question. When you simply respond that you want to work in reproductive health, people usually don’t ask why. 


  1. I think your career choice is awesome, good for you. Nothing to be ashamed of, somebody has to do it right?! You have a great attitude about it and having the personality to make people around you comfortable enough to talk about sex is a real talent.

  2. That's very awesome, I didn't realize that whole story about why you wanted to do that! Do you see yourself working in a school? Or a hospital more?