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Young people pressured to pick career paths

"There's no right or wrong way to choose a path for yourself," says local MacEwan student
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Amanda Homeniuk, a MacEwan University student, agrees there can be major pressures on young adults to select a university program or career path after high school. CHRIS COLBOURNE/St. Albert Gazette
For many young people on the brink of graduating high school, the excitement of finally being free of homework and studying is at the forefront of their minds; however, some don’t get to fully bask in this excitement because the pressure to decide what they now want to do with the rest of their lives is looming on the horizon.

For Amanda Homeniuk – a now-23-year-old longtime resident of St. Albert – that pressure was already building before she had even graduated, when some students were beginning the application process for university.

“I remember my ideas for what I wanted to do were constantly changing,” said Homeniuk. “I wanted to be in radio and TV broadcasting, then I wanted to be a nurse, and I even wanted to do behind-the-scenes technical theatre at one point.”

Homeniuk says each of these programs were offered at different schools, which made it impossible to decide on which one to apply to, especially considering the financial burden it could create.

“I just thought, if I choose one of these and two years down the road decide I don’t want to be doing it anymore, that’s thousands of dollars down the drain,” she said.

Instead, she ended up taking two years off after graduating high school to work – something that she says a lot of her fellow graduates ended up doing as well. Ultimately, taking time off ended up helping her in the long run, even if in the beginning it felt like a waste of time.

“I think it gave me more time to think about what I want out of life, and I ended up maturing a lot,” said Homeniuk.

Although the two-year break was helpful to her, she says there was still immense pressure coming from those around her to figure her life out, with the expectation that everyone should just know right after graduation what they're going to do.

“There was pressure from family and also societal pressure,” said Homeniuk. “The expectations that people have ... people would ask, ‘Now that you’re done high school, what are you going to do?’ I was like, ‘I don’t know yet.’ ”

Now, going into her fourth year of the professional communications degree at MacEwan University, Homeniuk says she finally feels like she’s doing something that she’s passionate about.

“The program genuinely interested me at the time because I’m a people person,” she said. “I hated the first year or two because it was so general and stuff seemed like common sense to me. I thought, ‘Why am I wasting money on this?’ Then I hit my third year of the program and that’s when things finally started to get specific and relevant to my degree. It met my expectations and what I thought it would be like.”

Although she’s thankful she found something that interests her, she still feels there are way too many expectations placed on young people who are still in high school, and she places emphasis on allowing them to take time to decide for themselves what they want to do with their lives – because even though some know right away, that shouldn’t be considered the norm.

“I think some people are born knowing what they want to do, and props to them, but lots of people just don’t have that innate knowledge,” said Homeniuk.

“It’s just important to know that everybody moves at their own pace, and there’s no right or wrong way to choose a path for yourself.”

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