Everything happens for a reason. I knew this going into college, but it didn’t really occur to me how valuable this quote was until I imagined my life a couple years into the future.

I was just about to enter the gate at the airport…on my way to deposit my check for Occidental College (Oxy)—my first choice college—when I received a life-changing email from the College of Civil & Environmental Engineering at the University of Washington (UW).

I was presented with a Direct Freshman Admissions offer into Civil Engineering with a full ride, and guaranteed “Engineering in Training” license by the time I graduate.

How was I going to make a college decision with this HUGE offer now on my plate? I was hesitant and scared because this was a moment I knew would shape my life forever. But heck, I had a plane waiting for me. I wanted to visit Oxy anyway because ultimately, this was my first choice and it is located in sunny California.

Had I not checked my email before going to California, maybe things would have been different. Maybe I wouldn’t have been so blindsided, distracted, and closed about emerging myself into the culture of Oxy. Perhaps I would be a Tiger instead of a Husky. But when it came down to my future, I knew I didn’t want to be in debt, I wanted a job right after college, and I didn’t want to spend more than 5 years in higher education.

One month into UW, I began to regret my decision because I could not imagine myself wearing a hard hat for the rest of my life. The realization hit me hard: I no longer wanted to be a Civil Engineer. It didn’t match any of my personality traits that were reinforced through the Strengths Assessment I took in a summer career workshop. I was simply not happy when attending classes, and I didn’t enjoy UW at all because I found myself studying almost 8 hours straight on a given day.

I finally made the decision to switch majors. Instead of Civil Engineering, I began to surround myself with people and programs that related to Human Centered Design & Engineering (HCDE). I almost immediately felt re-energized with excitement and passion — aspects that I value. I wouldn’t have realized how much of an impact personality traits are when aligned with majors or careers if it hadn’t been for the inspiring workshop that Deanna Carlisle facilitated around personality tests over the summer.

In the end, I learned that everything happens for a reason because if I had not checked my email before going to California, I would have deposited my first tuition fee for Oxy and I wouldn’t have considered UW. If I did not choose UW, I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to study HCDE. HCDE is where my passion lies, and I am truly happy with my decision to switch majors.

If you’re interested in attending a workshop to help you discover your strengths & translate them into college major and career interests – sign up for a Career Workshop here!


This wonderfully insightful blog was written by Tuyen Truong, a freshman at the University of Washington. In her free time, Tuyen loves to experiment new food recipes with her sisters and boyfriend. She learned to swim two years ago in preparation for a service trip in the Dominican Republic. Swimming is now one of her favorite workout activities. Tuyen also enjoys pranking her dorm roommates…she spends a great deal of time brainstorming new ideas to catch them at unexpected moments.

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