Personal loss pushes recent grad to focus on future – Grad Q&A with Human Resources Administration graduate Tierra Womack
At twenty-five Tierra Womack had so many hopes for the future she and Tyler, her first-love and life partner, and their toddler Ezekiel, would share. But that picture changed dramatically when Tyler passed away unexpectedly. Tierra had to somehow design a new life, a new direction, and a financially secure future.
How was that possible when, most days, just getting out of bed took everything she had.
How did you find the strength to go forward in a career…in life?
I lost my father to cancer, so when this situation arose that I lost my partner, my mother (Tunya) was the only one who knew what I was going through. She told me, ‘I know you are hurting, but all you can do, baby, is take it one day at a time. You’re living for today and you’re living for your son. And I know Tyler would be proud of you’.
My mother is such a strong individual. She’s been through some of the toughest situations and pulled through. Her advice and her love have been a big inspiration for me in my life.
I was really in a place where I needed to take my mind and focus it on something – a healthy distraction.
Why did you choose a career change to Human Resources Administration?
I have a strong background in customer service and prior to enrolling in this program, I was in a Call Center position. Being in that work environment I realized that I wanted to get into Human Resources because we never had anyone to talk with in the company about our issues – no one to really help us out, to represent us. I wanted to be that person someone could come to for that kind of support. I felt this was the right direction for me.
What led you to SJVC’s Online Human Resources Administration program?
I knew I had a higher calling and could assist people in a higher way. Human Resources was a really good direction for me. I found SJVC online and saw that they offered an online schedule (Human Resources Administration program) that met my needs.
I requested information and was contacted by an Admissions Advisor who told me about the program and how it works. It sounded really good. I just ‘let go and let God’ and trusted her.
Did it turn out that your trust was well-placed?
I’m so glad I chose SJVC because everyone is so helpful. Instructors were very attentive and responsive. Even though it was an online program, I didn’t feel that distance. There was never a time I wouldn’t get a response (from faculty) that day. Our teachers were really right there for us whether you’re one mile away or a thousand miles away.
What did you like most about the online format?
I loved the (classroom) discussion posts. We would interact with the other students and share ideas about what we were learning that week – like Labor Laws. We could see everyone’s point of view.
As I was doing the program I was getting As in class. Instructors know what they want for their students and push them toward their goals. They wanted to make sure I was understanding everything because I was going to take that out into the world in my new profession.
How did you handle the stresses of school and parenting?
I had my mother here who lives about 20-minutes away. She would help with meal prep or if I had an exam or project, she would play with Ezekiel to keep him occupied. There were definitely times I was stressing and thinking ‘what if I’m not doing this right’. She would say, ‘You know what you’re doing. I have faith in you’. She was emotionally, physically, and mentally supportive.
I would get into moments of feeling like I didn’t want to do anything. I just wanted to stay in bed. Maybe this isn’t the time to do this. But I told myself I can’t be like this; if not now, when? Besides, I had someone looking at me. I didn’t want Ezekiel to see me in that state. I wanted him to see his mother as a survivor and show him that he could go through things too.
What was a high point in your education experience?
That moment I made the Dean’s List because it had been so long since I’d gone to school. It was my happiest moment because I wasn’t sure I could really do it; my head space was somewhere else. Sometimes I couldn’t focus or get the material. I was crying, but still looking over the lessons. But a couple of months later I made the Dean’s List again. OK, this is something I am doing right.
Your advice to those trying to choose a career direction or who are in school but struggling?
Look at your options and think of what you enjoy doing and tap into that. Trust your instincts. If you’re in class and struggling, reach out, ask questions! Your classmates and teachers are there to be helpful and supportive. Don’t give up. No struggle will last forever.
Any big surprises about the Human Resources Administration program?
There were no surprises, except that when I would go to any (job) interviews I was surprised to find out how well-known SJVC is. They have a very good reputation in the community. One company had their own engineering (education) program that they offered their Maintenance Technology (SJVC MT graduates) workers. I thought that was really cool.
What was your job search like?
SJVC’s Career Services had us practice interviewing, and it made me nervous because I wasn’t used to interviewing. My own job interview process lasted about two months.
I had 4 or 5 interviews with the (plastic and electrical materials) company I went to work for that has 100+ employees at each plant at several locations. I interviewed with managers then the Director of HR, then the Director of Operations. This position had been open for about a year and the hiring process was very long, but I wouldn’t have done it any other way.
They knew this was my first HRA position and asked if I felt ready. I told them I was ready to show up and show that I can do this job for them. This is where I’m supposed to be. I’m very grateful for the opportunity they’re giving me and for trusting my skills and knowledge.
What are your job responsibilities?
I am recruiting and interviewing for new positions and hiring qualified candidates. I explain position responsibilities, company policies and health and safety laws and regulations to new hires.
They offer a lot of advancement opportunities and offer school tuition reimbursement. I love that! I would love to venture more into Human Resources, but right now I’m getting my feet wet with this company before I take a deeper dive into it.
Change is hard. Was it worth it?
You’re not going to learn if you’re just going to sit there. My son was my inspiration, my life. Looking at his face I see so much of his father in him. That pushes me. He is my motivation – my key – to life.
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