““Follow the calling in your heart; trust yourself.”
When Diana Deaver first set out to complete her bachelor’s degree, she had practicality in mind, not passion.
Like so many young adults, Deaver was seeking a credential that would help ensure a reasonable income, and selected a program that seemed like a means to that end; yet she knew that she was not following her calling. Luckily for Deaver, she had trusted advisors to steer her on the right path.
Deaver studied psycho-sociology at the Universitatea Virgil Madgearu in Romania in 2000, but after immigrating to the United States, abandoned her studies in favor of securing employment. “I took whatever jobs were available,” explains Deaver. “I was in this country by myself, and had no one to support me.” Deaver knew that a college degree was essential to career advancement and -not wanting to get stuck - earned an Associate’s Degree from Trident Technical College. Deaver subsequently enrolled at the College of Charleston as an accounting major, and was soon matched with a mentor through Charleston Young Professionals.
It was through a conversation with her mentor that Deaver realized that her true passion was for people, not numbers. An amateur portrait photographer, Deaver decided to change her major to studio art, and pursue photography as a hobbyist. She soon had enough clients to allow her to leave her position as an office manager, and establish her own wedding photography business. As Deaver continued her studies in the arts, she found that many of her required classes were not relevant to her career aspirations, nor were they of interest to prospective clients. This realization led Deaver to put her studies on hold once again.
With a successful business keeping her afloat, Deaver sought out avenues that held the potential for greater purpose. She discovered life coaching, and in 2014, began working with clients. Coaching - being a very different industry than photography - brought with it a need to be a polished presenter, as well as a need for academic credentials. Wanting to further her career potential, Deaver met with a College of Charleston career coach, who suggested the School of Professional Studies (SPS) and the Bachelor of Professional Studies program.
“The Applied Communication concentration seemed like it would serve me best in my career, and could help me with coaching and speaking engagements,” says Deaver. “The courses seemed like they would be immediately applicable.” Deaver was also excited about the Express course option, as it would allow her to expedite her degree completion process. “You feel so lost when you’re going back to college, you don’t know what you need,” Deaver explains. “Carla’s [Academic Advisor Carla Stewart] help was amazing! She knew that I wanted to graduate in a year, and had arranged the whole schedule before we even met in person. All I had to do was accept.”
Deaver enrolled in the SPS in January 2017, taking three classes in her first semester. “It has been lovely, but I didn’t anticipate the workload,” says Deaver. “I’m managing, but I’ve had to make adjustments.” Deaver considers her return to school as a mature student to be a tremendous privilege; one that has helped her gain a greater understanding of the world at large. “It is so powerful to apply the critical thinking and professional presentations classes* to my life. I’m learning about politics…I’m learning how to give a Ted Talk. I feel very lucky to be getting an education.” Being attuned to people and their passions, Deaver notes that the academic experience seems to be somewhat different for adult students: “When you finish high school and go to college, you feel like society has decided how you are going to do things, but (attending college as an adult) is a conscious choice.”
Deaver is continuing to pursue her passion for people, working as a private life-coach and as a group facilitator at Bliss Spiritual Co-Op - while also maintaining her wedding photography business. When asked what advice she would give to prospective students, Deaver draws on her own experience, emphasizing the need to be true to oneself: “Follow the calling in your heart; trust yourself. Some people can’t stand being in a place of need: allow yourself to receive help. For me, this has made all the difference in the world.”
Diana Deaver plans to graduate in May 2018, and is excited about the prospect of adding “college graduate” to her credentials. While Deaver wholeheartedly believes that a Bachelor’s-level diploma is one of the greatest assets one can have, she stresses that there is even greater value in the academic experience. “The greatest value of attending (the BPS program) has been expanding my perspective in my life and career,” she says. “I am a deeper person, a more complete person.”
*Required courses in the Bachelor of Professional Studies program.