Written by Kelly Cara, Co-Founder of V-Life and Missouri State University Alumna
Two years ago, I packed my things and moved to Austin, TX, to attend culinary school. To some, this was not an obvious career decision. From age 3, I thought I wanted to be a doctor, but my experience as a Medical Explorer in high school changed my mind. I decided to try out a business major in college, but I felt out of place and switched to English. That was a better fit and led to work abroad teaching English with the U.S. Peace Corps. Still trying to figure things out, I earned a master’s in experimental psychology, worked in a behavioral health hospital, then taught statistics and became the Assessment Research Coordinator for Missouri State University. At the age of 32, it was apparent my career path was blurry at best.
I always envied people whose career trajectory was a straight shot. When asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” some kids really do know, and they happily become that very thing for life. For others, the path is not so clear or direct. Most of us will have several different careers, and hopefully, we will enjoy all of them. If the enjoyment runs out, though, we have to make a choice. Stay or go?
To test myself, I asked, “What would I do if I had a million dollars?” If I didn’t have to worry about money today, what would I do with my life? The answer surprised me, but instinctively and immediately I responded, “I’d go to culinary school.” I’d always loved baking but never considered working in the food industry. However, I had considered, very seriously, a career providing people with practical ways to live better, healthier, and happier lives. That was even the focus of my entire graduate school experience. If I was going to culinary school, it would have to be a different kind of school that focused on the healing and nourishing properties of food rather than merely taste and appearance. Luckily, I found the Natural Epicurean Academy of Culinary Arts – a health-supportive program in Austin, TX.
Two years later, I have started my own lifestyle wellness education business, V-Life, and everything is coming together: entrepreneur (business background), marketing materials (English background), motivating clients, data collection, and accounting (psychology and statistics background), and health-supportive food demonstrations (culinary background). Looking back, my winding path seems straighter than I thought.