The day I stepped foot on the University of Georgia’s campus was the day I knew I wanted to become an athletic trainer. It had been my dream since high school and I was going to do whatever it took to become one. My family and friends were so encouraging but yet, conversations would always come up about the salary of an athletic trainer.
I knew I would never be a trainer for the money anyway. I always told myself that if I loved my job, I would never be working a day in my life, so the money meant nothing to me. It was just my passion for helping athletes being that I have been an athlete all my life; there was nothing more that I wanted to do than give back to them.
It wasn’t until my sophomore year at UGA that my passion was affected by the system. I had worked so hard in all the, what I thought were impossible, classes and studied for hours outside of my track practice (yes, in fact I am a student athlete at UGA and only made my situation worse with becoming an athletic trainer), and spent time volunteering at the orthopedic offices around Athens.
I just knew, with all the hard work that I had put into getting into the undergraduate athletic training and the exercise and sport science programs, I would definitely be one of the top candidates. When the day came for me to hear back about my applications, I excitedly and without hesitation opened my email and began reading, “Dear Quintunya Chapman, . . .”
Before I knew it, tears were streaming down my face as I progressed to the next sentence that read, “We regret to inform you . . .” and I instantaneously slammed shut my laptop because I already knew where they were going to say next. I was deeply and intensely heartbroken and felt like my life no longer had any meaning. I felt rejected.
After talking with my parents, whom I am very close with, I decided that I would not give up, and apply again to the programs after taking a couple more classes to increase my GPA and volunteer work. By the end of my sophomore year, I had applied twice more to those two programs, only to receive the same letters each time from the departments: “We regret to inform you . . .”
Once I opened the third letter, I was no longer interested in being a part of the athletic training career. I was no longer interested in seeing what UGA had to offer from that department. I was no longer passionate about anything. Those rejection letters had sucked the life right out of me and there was nothing I could do to fix it.
There was just nothing else that caught my eye and I began to get frustrated. Eventually, I figured out I still wanted to be in healthcare and help people of different populations out, but I just could not figure out how.
As my academic advisor and me searched through the long list of majors, we came across “Health Promotion and Behavior”. It was in the College of Public Health and located on the beautiful Health Sciences campus on the other side of downtown Athens. The more I researched the career opportunities fulfilled with this major, the more I became intrigued.
I began researching the College of Public Health and the one thing I dreaded reading most was the application process. The words ‘submit your application’ set off an alarm in my head and I became instantly terrified that something else I was interested in would get seized from me again.
Once again, I went to my parents for some encouragement as well as anything else they had to say about what I was to do with my life. They continued to lecture me on how I should do what my heart desired and that God has a plan for me and to not worry. I sincerely wanted to trust what they were saying, but I felt like I was running out of time in college and did not have time to start over. Seeing how health promotion was the only major that seemed worthwhile, I went for it.
My heart dropped and all I could do was bow my head and say a prayer to The One my parents said had a plan for me.
As weeks had gone by, I began avoiding email notifications to save myself from another rejection letter and embarrassment. I knew I needed to find out what my future had in store for me so I cautiously opened my email and scanned for anything titled College of Public Health. Sure enough, I had received the email hours before that moment. I could feel my heart jump to my throat and sweat increasing in my hands. The moment I have been waiting for: “Dear Quintunya, . . . We are pleased to let you know that you have been provisionally accepted into the major.” I could do nothing else but shout and the tears that fell were no longer tears of sadness but of relief and happiness.
That following semester after I applied, I had anxiously registered for the major classes and could not wait to learn more about this mystery major. As it turned out, I absolutely loved the classes. I had paid attention like never before and was always excited to go to the classes no matter what day of the week it was.
I finally felt like I was in my niche and had no intentions of UGA ever taking that away from me. Currently, I have one year left to complete my major, and I have even picked up a minor on the way, Exercise and Sport Science. Never would have thought I would be back on that boat but once I got over the sadness, I realized the passion I had for human anatomy and movement had not left.
I can honestly say that I am happy to have discovered the College of Public Health and cannot wait to get out in the workforce to apply everything it is teaching me. Health promotion is my newfound passion and I am so delighted that I did not give up on myself. My parents had faith in God and myself and I just needed to uncover that faith on my own. One year left with UGA and a lifetime to go with health promotion.