Growing up, I had one passion: horses. I was (am?) the weird horse girl, spending every minute I could at the barn, and obsessing over them when I was away. You know the story.
This obsession has continued throughout elementary, middle, and high school, and now through college. I’ve poured myself into the horse industry, competing as an eventer, dressage rider, and show jumper. I achieved many Pony Club ratings, and am currently aiming for my HA within the next year or so. I participated in the Emerging Athletes Program, and held numerous working student positions. Having a career in the horse industry was all I could hope for and imagine.
Throughout the years, other passions slowly emerged, specifically in community development, local government, and civic engagement. In high school, as Student Government President, I sat on our local school board to represent the student body. I enjoyed participating in my community in a new role, and began to question my future career. I wanted to remain an active member of my community, but how could I fully participate in all of my expanding passions? As someone who is eager to dive head first into everything I do, I often find myself with too much on my plate. Despite recognizing my habit of taking on too much, when I decided to further my education at Penn State, I decided to study Community Development in addition to continuing my work with horses, keeping my post-graduate plans wide open.
During my time in school, I’ve been a working student, held “real-world” internships, studied endlessly for finals, and heavily weighed pros and cons of becoming a professional vs. using my degree to find a non-horse related job. After many, many conversations and consideration of advice from mentors, I have decided that once I graduate in May, I will be turning my attention to a career in the equine industry.
Grateful for my two- and four-legged team.
The next few months contain insane challenges, baby steps that feel like leaps into the unknown, and a rollercoaster of emotions. What will my life look like in the next 6 months? Where will I be? How can I dive headfirst into my crazy ideas while maintaining balance, sanity, and getting sleep every night? What role will my other passions play in my life?
I know I am not the only one with these questions, doubts, nerves, and excitement. Whether you’re a new professional, an amateur figuring out how to balance life, work, or school with horses, a soon-to-be working student, a Pony Clubber studying for the next certification, a young rider growing up outside of a “horse hub” of activity, or any form of equine enthusiast, I am looking forward to hearing your stories, sharing my experience, and developing this community with you further in my new role as a writer for Jumper Nation.
As we (finally) turn to 2021 and dive head first into our new goals, my hope is that we will use this opportunity to support one another. Despite many uncertainties, the one thing I am certain of is the strength of the equestrian community. I couldn’t have been able to achieve Pony Club ratings, hold working student positions, balance horses and school, or prepare for a career with horses without those around me. My Community Development degree helped me realize how uniquely special the give and take in our community is.
In this space, I plan to reflect on the community around us, my role in that community, and how we can utilize our strengths to add to the experiences of those around us, and the horses we care for so deeply. My degree and my career with horses are not mutually exclusive. I’m looking forward to continually learning how to mold them together with the Jumper Nation team.
Thank you to Ema and the rest of the Jumper Nation team for allowing me this opportunity to share my journey, thoughts, and experiences!