For this edition of Real Life, we interviewed our client Lisa Samuelson about her recent career change. We often talk to our clients about the idea of creating choices and freedom for themselves through hard work and thoughtful financial planning. Lisa’s story is a perfect example of someone who, after years spent working hard at a first career, was able to pivot toward her passion and choose a new course.
For many years, Lisa was focused on the world of healthcare software. She first worked at Johnson & Johnson, and then was a director of software development in a special division of Pfizer, working to develop software that helps patients manage chronic illnesses like diabetes. Working with large pharmaceutical companies headquartered back East involved plenty of travel with flights to New York a couple of times each month.
When she and her husband Drew adopted their daughter Lucy, she decided to make a shift in her career. She changed jobs and began consulting for internet start-up companies, and a large medical center, in order to have a bit more flexibility and limit the need for travel.
Things were going along smoothly until Lucy began middle school. The large class sizes, coupled with her shyness, made it extremely difficult for her to thrive in a traditional public school. Lucy is an accomplished equestrian, but aside from that bright spot in her life, she struggled. Middle school was simply overwhelming for her. The situation quickly became untenable as Lucy began to lose motivation. Soon, she began beating herself up for not being “smart enough” to keep up with her schoolwork. Driven by a desire to find a better way, Lisa decided to seek out other options for her daughter with a focus on home school.
Finding an Alternative
One of the options she discovered was Fusion Academy. They offer one-on-one teaching for a range of situations. Those scenarios include: students who need flexible schedules like actors and athletes, those seeking extra help, or those who desire a more rigorous curriculum and challenge. In addition, students work at their own pace. This makes it extremely helpful for students dealing with an illness or disability. If time is missed, they can come back and pick up their studies where they left off. The bottom line: Fusion Academy provides a personalized learning environment tailored to meet the needs of each student. Ultimately Lucy enrolled in a different on-line charter school, which provided curriculum and on-line classes, and also required a parent to act as a “learning coach.” Lisa took on that role, providing Lucy with one-on-one instruction at home, while continuing to tackle her consulting work.
Lucy began the online program in the sixth grade and has absolutely flourished since then. She is confident and successful in her academic work and also has an active social life, enjoying the many friendships she has developed through horseback riding. She is currently a thriving tenth grader, and Lisa was further convinced about the merits of one-on-one teaching and alternative educational options for some students.
After such a positive experience, Lisa began to think about pursuing a teaching career herself, and remembered her earlier visit to Fusion Academy. With her degrees in Biology and Computer Science, and her experience working one-on-one with Lucy, teaching math and science at Fusion was the perfect fit. Prior to making the decision, she and Drew sat down with the Hardworking Capital team to look at their options. Even though Drew was on the verge of retiring, their financial situation made it possible for Lisa to make the change to a lower paying job.
Taking on a New Challenge
Lisa made the leap in November of last year, and she’s so happy with her decision: “I make less, but I’m so passionate about what I’m doing. I work one-on-one with about sixteen students, each for 2 hours a week and have the freedom to find the best solution for that specific student. I can teach the lesson using traditional textbooks and workbooks or using other methods like lab work or drawing. As long as the student learns the topic, that is what matters. For example, I’m working with a student in Geometry and he is designing blue prints for a housing development. It’s challenging, but in a good way. Finding solutions for teaching kids is so rewarding.”
It’s amazing how life throws us curveballs. Just when you think you have it all figured out, a new challenge with a whole new set of opportunities presents itself. We love the way Lisa found happiness by taking this chance. In pursuing a new career, she found a new way to put her considerable talents to a different and powerful use. We can’t wait to hear more about her success going forward and will cheer loudly for Lucy’s achievements as well!