I want to thank our very FIRST guest on being vulnerable enough to share her story with us! Let's welcome McKenzie Clark!
Finishing another night shift, I stopped for my usual breakfast at McDonald's and headed to my next job. I figured I could save time to sleep if I made the hour commute now, and slept in the parking lot before my next shift. This was my last 24-hour work day this week. If I could just keep my mind on the full 8-hour rest I would get at the end of the day, I could power through anything. It’s hard to imagine I did this, it’s even harder to imagine I did this while 6 months pregnant. The struggle of my pre-pa years seem so distant from my life now, but experiencing the momentous occasion that is the Fall Convocation and White Coat ceremony, those memories give gravity to all that I had been through to get here and it also gives me the strength to make it through the sleepless nights, the missed moments with loved ones, and the successes and failures that come with PA School.
When you choose to go to PA school, you are asked to bear witness to how you not only meet the qualifications to attend school but the character and journey you’ve had, to indicate whether you can make it through PA School. This is understandable because PA school is not an easy feat by any means. After graduating from undergrad, I was determined to become that student that PA schools were looking for. I decided to take a gap year to devote all my time to getting into the healthcare field and to hold myself accountable. I planned every moment, every detailed of my journey.
I became pregnant with my firstborn, Zeola, shortly after graduating school. While, I recognize now how integral she has been in my journey, at the time, I was conditioned to believe that having children was the quickest way to kill my dreams. I admit I was scared of that thought of all the work I had done, and the plans that I had for my life was now “over”
The truth is, my life as I had known it was indeed over, and the life that I was meant to live had begun. My now fiancé and I were living above someone’s garage, I was working 60 hours a week to make ends meet, and I had now had an unplanned pregnancy that I could not even afford to go to prenatal appointments for. With all of these factors, I didn’t even give myself time to decide what I wanted and instead let my circumstances choose for me when I considered placing her for adoption. I knew I didn’t have the income to sustain myself let alone a baby, and I knew I wanted to go to Physician Assistant School. It wasn’t until I was 20 weeks along and had a medical emergency where I almost lost myself and her that I received the clarity I needed. I chose to not only keep her in my life, but accept the life path that I was destined to have versus the one I had planned out. It was in that tough time that I realized I actually wanted a family just as much as I wanted to go to PA school. I realized to get there, I didn’t just need to follow a plan, but live my life with purpose, and that purpose would give me the strength I needed to make it through ANYTHING.
Anyone can follow a plan, but to live with purpose, mistakes and mishaps doesn’t sway you from your path; they realign you to the direction you were meant to go.
My unplanned pregnancy was just that, unplanned. But it realigned me in the path that I was meant to have. It was the love of my daughter that got me through that difficult pregnancy, through the PA school application process, and my first semester entering PA school.
To all mothers, whether you are on your pre-PA journey, PA school, or newly certified PA-C, you have chosen a path in life that is both rewarding and life changing. DO NOT downplay your accomplishments, as it takes true courage to not only live in your purpose, but to push through those hard times while still taking care of family. You have brought humans into this world to love, care, and support and that is such a beautiful thing. To love and support them while still pursuing your dreams as a PA is an even more formidable and amazing feat. I hope that my story inspires those mothers who need the reassurance to keep pushing through the rough times. After I receive my white coat, my purpose is fully realized as I come home to a daughter that I love and who loves me unconditionally.