Wednesday, July 31, 2013

career options with a special needs child

I am Nicole Ott, a 2009 graduate of the UCF Bachelor degree program in Sport and Fitness. I would appreciate a few minutes of your valuable time to ask for some guidance. I have reached a point in my professional life in which I am at a loss on how to proceed.

I am not sure if you remember me from four years ago but I was the student who in her last semester pushed for early completion due to being nine months pregnant with her third child. I guess you could say I’ve always been a multi-tasker and embraced my circumstances to push forward with a deeper purpose. I distinctly remember having to write out and present short and long term career goals in one of our classes and upon graduation, I steered right towards those goals. The hands-on approach of your program, along with the detailed instruction gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams. With the support of my husband and three amazing children, I took on entrepreneurship and successfully ran my own Personal Training business in the Kissimmee/South Orlando area. Despite only working part-time hours in order to be with my family as much as possible, I still managed to appear on a radio show and contributed to a couple published fitness articles. Things were going very well and I loved every minute of it.

Life however, decided to throw a major curveball and my dreams had to come to an abrupt end. In June 2011, our fourth son was born with a rare genetic disorder which would make him lifelong dependent on a ventilator. To say that life changed in an instant would be an understatement. Without giving it a second thought, I dissolved my business and threw myself into the medical caretaker life that I would have to lead from that point forward. When not directly taking care of my son (or my other three children), my time was occupied with medical research, respiratory care studies, fighting insurance issues and medical advocacy, and learning sign language. It’s been a little over two years now since taking on this new life path. And while I am happy to report that our son is stable and acting like a typical two year old, I am personally now really struggling with the question of when, where and how to pursue my career again. Having no reasonable child care options for a medically complex child like our son, his care solely depends on my husband, my mother-in-law and mostly me. Part of me has accepted that I will not be able to work again until our son goes to Kindergarten and that even then, three years from now, his needs will still be the priority. At best, my work schedule would then have to fit his school schedule and in the fitness industry such a 7a-3p schedule is very hard to achieve. Another part of me though is the fighter who never wants to settle, who doesn’t want to wait another three years, and who wants to prove to her other kids that no matter what the circumstances, you can find a way to make your dreams come true. I have been out of the fitness industry for over two years now and I feel some sort of a disconnect. I have gone through tremendous personal change and even my entire outlook on life has changed so much that I am not sure where my original career goals fit in anymore. In a different life I have this Bachelor degree in Sport and Fitness and I have experience running my own Personal Training business but somehow that all seems just theoretical to me now. It’s like a void that hasn’t been filled for so long that I’m not sure how to get that passion for the fitness industry back. I know it’s still there somewhere in me, I just don’t know how to reach it and apply it.

My apologies for taking up so much of your valuable time. I am not even sure what it is that I am trying to accomplish here. I guess I am just reaching out from one professional to another hoping for some guidance. Maybe, despite of or because of my circumstances, there are opportunities out there that I haven’t considered, or maybe a unique idea could come out of this that could lead to a new outline of short and long term goals.

Thank you for taking the time to read this email and please know, your program not only opens doors for your students but also opens their minds to the many opportunities that life has to offer.

In gratitude,

Nicole Ott