“This is the beginning of the rest of your life,” is what my sister said to me before my first year of college. I was starting my freshman year at Temple University’s Boyer College of Music for Viola Performance and Education, a skill that I had really pushed myself to excel in during my high school years. I was a bit apprehensive about starting a new school and getting accustomed to city life, and such a drastic change really wreaked havoc on my well-being. I felt that I wasn’t really a part of the community, and I didn’t find myself properly adapting to my surroundings. Luckily, it didn’t take me long to realize that I needed a change in my life. Although I was extremely passionate about music, practicing my viola for hours on end every single day wasn’t something that I really wanted. I yearned for the chance to be able to explore the world and find different challenges and adventures to embark on. So I decided to make some changes. I switched my major to Elementary Education, I started playing sports, and I juggled my time between school and playing for the Philadelphia Youth Orchestra. But most importantly, I began my Y story in mid-June of 2017.
I was extremely excited to start working at the Lansdale YMCA as a Fit Zone coach. I was grateful that I was given a chance, even though they had initially told me that no openings were available. It would mean that I could pursue my major in depth by working with kids, and I would get to be a part of something bigger than myself. I didn’t think of the YMCA as just another job, but a community I could finally belong to and challenge myself in. From my very first day on the job, I made so many new friends with the other employees and members as well as form great relationships with the kids and their parents. I absolutely loved coming in every day that I worked, and begged for more time there. Within a year, I found myself working in the gym as a Wellness Coach and a Summer Camp counselor as well. I loved every aspect of the YMCA and I wanted to become more involved and thrive in a place where I felt I could be myself. I learned valuable life skills such as interacting and understanding different groups of people, working together with other Wellness Coaches to achieve collective goals, and how to push myself into leadership roles. I started working out, and learned how to teach others to do the same. I finally found my place, and I am forever grateful that I’ve been able to do all that I’ve done. I currently work at the YMCA every single day, and there has never been a time that I didn’t love it.
This fall, I’ll be attending the Pennsylvania State University Abington campus to study Rehabilitation and Human Services, in hopes that one day I can become an Occupational Therapist and a Teacher. On top of that, not only will I continue to work in the Wellness department, but I will also contribute to a Healthy Kids program and a music program for violin and viola students within the YMCA. I am also working on getting my personal training certification so I can help those with fitness goals like mine including disability populations. I am so excited to reach new audiences with my knowledge and passion for fitness and music.
It’s unbelievable that within such a short amount of time, I’ve come such a long way. I’m grateful that I found such a welcoming community and that I’m able to embrace it every day. I’m finally able to explore more of the world and meet people whose own stories have inspired me to continue to work hard and understand those who I help. My overall goal is to help people, and it’s become very clear through working at the YMCA that I’m right where I’m supposed to be. I think about what my sister said to me a lot, and I constantly remind myself to keep going forward and bettering myself, even if things get tough. I want to take her words of wisdom and spread that to those around me, whether they too are experiencing discomfort in their life, or even beginning their own journey at the Y.