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“Go with your strength,” Pooh said. That’s my dad. I was a business major, and accounting was kicking all my behind. All of it. So bad, I would develop a knot in my stomach every time I looked at an assignment. “I just need to get this over with,” was a daily thought. Prior to, I was a biology major. A general studies major. I wanted to be a nurse. I wanted to be a stylist. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life.

I started my collegiate career at Campbell University in 2008. Campbell is a private, Christian-based college in the middle of nowhere and a “dry campus”. Whatever that means. I was over driving an hour to shop, party and waking up early for a mandatory church service every Monday. I love church but I wasn’t used to receiving a grade for it. So, I transferred to North Carolina A&T State University. It was there, I learned the value of the red Solo cup. Every Thursday-Sunday, we were best friends.

“Shauna, where are you going, church?” Nita would call and ask.

“The Church of Music City, Mama,” was always my response. Music City was our spot. I can hear Gucci Mane blasting right now, “It’s a photoshoot, girl!”

After year two, I dropped out. Not because I couldn’t do the work but because I didn’t want to. If I had to choose between class or a couple rounds of Guitar Hero with my friend Kayla, Guitar Hero it was.

I’ve always been creative, so I started a handmade accessory line. Shortly after, I landed a call center job, collecting credit card payments. I made well over minimum wage. I didn’t have a degree, and I had zero children to take care of. I was doing well for myself. But the call center closed 9 months later, and I moved back home to Wilmington, North Carolina.

It’s 2018, I’d been living in the Raleigh-Durham area for two years. At the time, I was collecting mortgage payments and was ready to start school again. I wanted to do this for my mom. I enrolled in Durham Tech as a business major, thinking, even if my business failed, I would always have a job. There are millions of places and someone was bound to need a manager of some sort. Eventually, that call center shut down too.

Every “good job” I had fell through. Sometimes I was hurt, but I know now, it was God setting me up for greatness. After finding out accounting was not my friend, I talked to my English professor and he reminded me that my writing skills were more than adequate to pursue a career in journalism. His words, not mine. My father texted me that simple, four-word sentence because he knew my passion before I did. For years, I wrote collegiate papers for someone-who-shall-not-be-named and I, well we, aced almost all of them. During all my trials, my love for fashion, reading, and writing never changed.

The day after talking to my professor, I requested a major change. The first day of my journalism class, I knew I made the right decision. I felt at home. That year for Christmas, I asked for a fancy camera and my mom told me I would have to wait until after Christmas. Jose, my little brother, takes all our money around the holidays, so I was cool. Christmas Day, I opened a shiny, black Sony A6000, disguised as a pair of shoes.

“Yes!” I smiled and did a little dance.

By January, I published my first blog post, dedicated to plus-size women looking to enhance their wardrobe and build confidence. The response was great. Afterwards, I launched my freelance writing career and booked three jobs within a week. I don’t have many requirements. If the job makes sense, I’ll take it. A month later, I started self-publishing articles through Medium, a site for story-tellers and readers. I can’t begin to describe the happiness I felt and still feel. I know there is so much more in store for me.

I just started but when I think about my career, I feel peace. A peace I have never felt before. A student advisor told me, “Journalism won’t make you rich.” It’s not about the money. For me, it’s about the love, passion, and enjoyment I get for following my destiny. When you are following your passion and doing what you are supposed to, everything falls into place. I tell myself, often, nothing worthwhile is easy and what is meant for me, is mine. This is for me.

This feature was submitted by LaShauna Toomer

LaShauna Toomer is a journalism student at Durham Tech and dedicates most of her days to writing, blogging, and thinking of outfit ideas. She credits her mother for her drive and her father for her love of reading and writing. As a writer and the creator of Shaunamadonna.com – a blog for the Fine, Fat, and Fly – she seeks to be as informative as she is encouraging for aspiring fashionistas everywhere.

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