Sunday, June 26, 2016

Student Spotlight: Jill (Rollinger) Baranowski

by Ann Abbott

I love hearing from former students. And it's extra special when several years have gone by and so you can see how much their lives have grown in many different directions.

So I was delighted to receive the email below from Jill (Rollinger) Baranowski recently. First of all, I'm so happy to see that she seems happy--and knows what makes her happy. That is the most important thing of all. Always.

Students: I'd love it if you would do the following:
  • Read the first post I wrote about Jill
    • Are you willing to do the networking that I talked about on that post?
  • Read Jill's letter below.
    • Compare where she was in 2010 and where she is now, in 2016, in terms of her career.
    • Note how your beginning doesn't have to be your ending.
    • Really think about your passions, and ask yourself if you are on a path to wed your passion and your career. 
    • If your major or your career doesn't feel like a good fit to you right now, no problem! Just like Jill, your career will have many steps and many doors. Take note of how the path she wants to go down now doesn't negate all the wonderful experiences and learning opportunities that she had in her previous job. 
    • Notice how Spanish can be a part of your personal and professional life years into your future. What can you do right now to keep your Spanish up? Do it! Don't get rusty and insecure in your Spanish.
    • Look at how Jill is using volunteering--and Spanish in her volunteering--to explore and bolster her career plans. How can you do that, too, whether you are still at the U of I or somewhere else?
I'm grateful that Jill contacted me. I hope you will contact me, too!

Hi Ann, 

I have been reminiscing about my years at U of I, and I remembered that you were someone who always took a special interest in me and my career path! Well, I wanted to drop you a note with a little update on my life!

First, let me refresh your would remember me by my maiden name, Jill Rollinger. I took your Spanish for Business class in Fall of 2009. I think you featured me on your blog in the following spring, highlighting my acceptance of a job with Nielsen as an engineer.

As the name-change indicates, I married my high school/college sweetheart in 2011, a year and a half after graduating. We have been living in Tampa, Florida for the last 4 years and I'm very proud to say he is running a successful business as a freelance artist: (Proof that you can make anything into a career if you're passionate enough and willing to put in the work!)

As for me, I worked for Nielsen for 5 years, taking advantage of multiple opportunities to step up into leadership roles! I really did love the work and learned so much in just 5 years. However last summer, I decided to leave Nielsen and come back to school full-time. I have been taking prerequisites for the last year now at the University of South Florida, and I will be applying to Medical School this summer in hopes to begin in Fall 2017. It is a rather drastic shift in career path, but I couldn't be more excited. 

It has been really cool to watch the pieces of my life fit together. If you recall, I studied abroad in Spain before taking your class and have always loved the idea of using Spanish in my career. Well, it was like an epiphany when I realized how valuable Spanish will be in healthcare. I have actually been volunteering for the last 9 months at a free clinic for migrant agricultural workers and their families. The vast majority speak very little English, so I work in multiple roles, conducting intake interviews and paperwork, translating for doctors and the like. I'm still working on picking up appropriate medical terminology, but overall it's been a huge confidence boost to realize I can be pretty functional in Spanish! It has also had a profound impact on me to work with this population. Reaching underserved groups with quality healthcare is one of the biggest reasons I decided to pursue the career change!

I hope you and your family are well. I enjoyed browsing some of your recent blog posts and was reminded of why you inspire me! :-)

Enjoy the beautiful Midwest summer!

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