An Unconventional Journey into Design

Come discover my non-traditional path and why I’ll “never say never!”

Most designers have great childhood stories of being artists or figuring out they enjoyed being creative in their younger years. On the other hand, there is the non-traditional story, a story like mine with struggles and discoveries that tell us we just might have talents we just don’t know we have.

As a child, I did not have a lot of interest in art. Even as an adult, I will admit having to share my rough sketches still intimidates me. So, what was it that got me interested in UX design later in my life?

I am currently in my Junior year of my college education as a UX Product Designer. I probably have enough credits that I should have at least a Masters degree at this point in life, but it was necessary to end up on a few dead ends to figure out where I really needed to go.

In 2011, I tried my hand at running an online business. Having no prior knowledge of how to do business, surprisingly, It started out with a bang and took off so quickly. I put everything I had into that business and learned all that I could. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand the seasons of sales and It was after a few heartaches and financial setbacks, the business sadly closed. I found myself as a single mother and sole provider needing to make some major financial decisions in life.

Needless to say, the kids and I quickly learned to live off of ramen and peanut butter sandwiches so that I could go back to school in search of a better life for all of us. I returned to a familiar degree path that I had been on since graduating high school. I was back on track to become an RN and didn’t have too much longer to complete it.

From Left to Right: Preston (16) | Me (Old) | Briggs (9) | Kylee (18)

My second semester back was quite brutal. I survived Anatomy and Statistics that semester, barely. To be truthful, I did great. I got straight A’s, but I fought harder for those A’s than I have ever fought for anything. It was a semester the kids and I want to forget, but never will. When I finished that semester, I found that all I really wanted to do to wind down, was to lay in bed with my computer and design Christmas cards. I stayed up for hours teaching myself Adobe creative suite. I had already learned a lot about photography for my online business and I didn’t want to stop with just a simple photoshop edit.

I was completely immersed in learning all that I could about design. I offered to design Christmas cards for free because I couldn’t get enough of it. I wasn’t great, but I knew I could get better and was soaking up everything I could learn about it. It made me so happy. The best part about it was, I was also making others happy doing something that I loved. I realized the passion to learn about design far surpassed my desire to be a nurse, even though nursing had been my plan for so many years.

The image above is one of my first designs. Although it has a lot to be desired, it’s sentimental to me. It marks the moment I made the decision to change the course of my future.

By the next semester, I was registered for classes toward a whole new world, a scary one, an intimidating one, one that I loved, but feared at the same time. I knew I had a lot to learn. As I began my classes in school, I couldn’t believe how much I enjoyed every single topic I was learning.

I felt like I was being born, like I had finally found a part of me that was buried my whole life. I felt so peaceful to know that this was where I really wanted to be. And I felt like I belonged.

I feel lucky to still be on that journey with my college education as a UX Product designer. I’m excited to know its path is one that will be continuous. Learning will be a part of what we will do as technology evolves and grows. Not only do I have a strong love for design, I also love to learn, which is why a technical design career is so perfect for me. What a dream to be able to innovative using your creative skills, learn new ones and make good products even better.

The most important thing I’ve learned is, although, I didn’t have a creative bone in me as a child or even a young mother, it’s not too late to do some self discovery and find new things you just might fall in love with. If you’re wishing you had taken a different road, the road still exists and all you have to do is decide to change directions and walk down it. It may not be easy, but I don’t think anyone regrets that change. I certainly don’t. It’s quite fun to be on this end now, I get to be the one to say: “Never say Never” because I am living proof.