The internal conflict between choosing a practical profession or mastering and making a living from a passion is a social pressure worth exploring.
In Dr. Kris Acheson Klair’s case she found a way to do it all: fulfill her love of animals, express her artistic talent and become the director of undergraduate studies in linguistics.
Klair said she had a “long string of short careers.” Her experiences include being a cowgirl on a ranch, lambing sheep, piercing and tattooing.
Klair attended Barry College for her undergraduate studies and pursued a degree in Pre Veterinary Medicine.
“I’m always in the country and on farms and I’ve always loved animals so I thought I wanted to be a large animal vet,” Klair said.
Acheson’s path starts out normal enough but life experiences, or even a random class selection can inspire a change.
“Just for the heck of it, my freshman year I took an art class and really fell in love with it so then I became an art major.” Klair said.
Like Klair, many students find other interests in college and change their majors. According to Purdue University, 80 percent of students are unsure of their major in and more than 50 percent change their major at least once during their college career.
Other catalysts that influence career paths are the opinions of our family and friends.
“Somewhere along the line my dad said, ‘hmm you might want to do something more practical so that you have a career,’” Klair said.
Her self proclaimed “false starts” led her to teaching high school Spanish and eventually taking the position as director of undergraduate linguistic studies at Georgia State.
“I think people make career decisions based on what they would be good at not necessarily what they love,” Klair said. “Past choices and life experiences bring us to shape with who we are now and how we see the world.”
Today Klair commutes to campus twice a week from her family farm 70 miles south of Georgia State.
The cattle herding, tattoo artist professor also highly suggests emotional health, intellectual interest, physical health and income level to be factored into deciding on a career path.
“Don’t feel like you have to choose now what you will do for the rest of your life, as many people change careers multiple times,” Klair said.