In honor of National School Counseling Week, we invited veteran career technology counselor and 2015 national ACTE Career Guidance Award winner Jeanie Bragg to write today’s article. Jeanie reflects on her personal career path to becoming a career counselor, and how she came to discover her true passion and life's work.
My First Steps Toward a Career Path
It never crossed my mind that I wanted to be a career counselor in elementary, middle, or high school. I was always entrepreneurial by nature. At the age of 12, I landed my first job as the first female paper carrier with the Denton Record-Chronicle.
Although it was certainly not the most prestigious job, I took advantage of the opportunity it afforded me to “network” with customers along my paper route. Several of them were college professors, and they always gave me great advice. My guidance counselor also happened to be one of my customers. She suggested that I take a marketing course, which I did, and it soon became my favorite.
Throughout high school, I competed at the area, state, and national levels in the DECA competitive events program. In my senior year I was awarded “Texas Top Newspaper Carrier of the Year” by the Texas Daily Newspaper Association, which provided me with a college scholarship, and I later earned the title of “Most Likely to Succeed in Business.”
My College Years
Soon after graduation, I started college, declared a business major and life went on. From my experience in high school I realized “I think like a marketer,” “I act like a marketer,” but I had to ask myself the question: “will I be happy as a marketer?”
In my senior year of college, I realized that my compassion for others impacted the way I made business decisions and my “killer instinct” was nonexistent when a conflict between profit and the welfare of people would arise.
Then I had an epiphany: I could learn how to teach marketing from my high school marketing teacher, Mr. Hinesly! Luckily, I had stayed in touch with him and his wife, who was also a marketing teacher. So, in addition to my college course work, I spent time with them and learned as much as I could about how to be an effective teacher. I sat in on Mr. Hinesly's classes to observe, and I completed my senior student teaching in Mrs. Hinesly's class. (To this day, I have remained close with the Hineslys and I consider them my mentors.)
My Turning Point
When I finally became a marketing teacher, I enjoyed the job and related well to my students. I spent eight happy years in that role. Then one day a student asked me, “Why aren't you a counselor?”
My student was giving me career advice … what a reversal in roles! Hence, I started on graduate work to become a career counselor.
Where I Am Today
Fast forward to 2015: I have worked in the field of education for over 30 years. I'm currently serving as Denton Independent School District’s lead career technology counselor on a team of four counselors that serves more than 25,000 students annually.
In looking back and reflecting on my career path, I realize that high school was an excellent start to lead me into my life's passion. My guidance counselor looked at my interest, suggested a class and changed the course of my life forever. I can't even imagine what life would be like without that life-changing experience in marketing and DECA.
It is now my privilege to be that change agent by working with students to help them become “future ready.”
About the Author
Jeanie Bragg has worked in the field of education for over 30 years. She currently serves as Denton Independent School District's lead career counselor on a team of four that serves more than 25,000 students annually. Jeanie designed, developed, and is implementing a unique comprehensive developmentally appropriate career guidance program for the district's PreK-12 students.