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holly boyles
holly boyles

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from dental to dev. a journey in progress

I love to hear stories of those who are in the process of changing careers into tech or those who have already made the change. It gives me hope and inspires me with my own journey.

I am a 40 year old wife and mother. I worked as a dental assistant for about 18 years before deciding that computer programming was something I could do. A couple of years ago I learned about a program offered in Tennessee, where I live. It allows adults that don't currently hold a degree and who are residents to go back to school for a two year degree tuition free. The best part of the program is that I didn't have to complete the degree in two years. For the first year and a half I maintained my full time job while taking classes at a community college part time.

Let me stop here and talk about a difficult decision that I had to make regarding the job I had been at for 15 years. My boss was amazing. He did what he could to accommodate my school schedule. A couple of nights a week I would have to leave work an hour early for class. As I progressed with my degree, it became apparent that taking a couple of classes each semester would take forever and some classes weren't offered at night. I have always struggled with how my decisions would make other people feel. This was no different. I knew that my boss would be be disappointed if I left, but I also knew that I had this dream and I needed to put myself first this time. I left my safe job at the end of 2019.

The challenges of 2020 came in hot. Classes quickly moved online and have stayed that way for the most part. This actually worked out for me because during the summer I was diagnosed with a mediastinal tumor. My tumor was the size of a tennis ball and it was snuggled up to the right side of my heart. The bad news is that it needed to come out. The good new was that it would most likely be benign. Three weeks from the end of my Fall semester, I had open heart surgery to remove my tumor. The first few days following surgery were brutal. I was certain that this was it for me and that I would never be able to take a deep breath or cough without tears again. That was 11 weeks ago.

As it turns out, I was being dramatic.....sort of. The first couple of weeks after surgery was pretty tough, but I was determined to be tougher. I propped myself up and finished my Fall semester. I had one class that I had not finished early before my surgery. I took three classes that semester and finished with A's in all of them.

Fast forward to today...

In one week I will no longer have any restrictions from my surgery. I still have some occasional discomfort. Fun fact: It can take up to 6 months for a sternum to completely heal after surgery. My tumor was benign, but could've become malignant if it had been left alone. Because of the type of tumor it was, there is almost a 0% chance that it could come back. That means that there is no reason for me to have long term scans, ect.

As for my classes, I started my Spring semester and am now a full time student. I also start my first tech internship next week! It will be an amazing opportunity that will allow me to be in a corporate setting and really get to see the IT department as a whole. As a career changer this feels like such a bonus but that is something I will talk about in a future post. ;)

If you have stuck it out for my entire story, Thank you.

There are no obstacles too large to keep us from achieving our goals. Sometimes, we just have to find more creative ways around them!

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