Local woman finds path to new career at BCCC

Published 6:23 pm Tuesday, October 22, 2019

Change, when it happens, comes suddenly, unpredictably and after long static periods. People who study biology and history see this on a large scale, and it happens this way in the minds of individuals, as well.

For Jamie Keel, that change came extremely suddenly. One day she left work, it was raining, and with no prior planning, she detoured to Beaufort County Community College, started the application process and left behind a career of 12 years. The mother of two is now on her way to a psychology degree at East Carolina University through a transfer program at BCCC.

“I’m the one who’s responsible for my future,” states Keel, thinking back to the day she decided to make the switch from her career as a veterinary technician.

This kind of determination is what she hopes to inspire in youth through her psychology practice. “I want them to transcend the limitations of society,” she says. “We are not well-versed in ourselves. There is a lot of conflict and confusion within each person because they are not given the software early enough in their lives to understand their emotions. They’re just taught to grind and grind and be their best, even if it’s not their path. It causes a lot of conflict in people and sets them back. I want them to see themselves apart from this character they have built. This will help create a wholeness within themselves and radiate that forward into society.”

This process is known in Jungian psychology as individuation.

After 12 years, Keel felt her career had plateaued. She went into the workplace immediately after graduating high school, not seeing college as an option. She is the first in her family to attend college, and she had not considered college, until that rainy day when she left work and saw herself apart from the character she had built. When she stepped into the admissions office, she immediately felt uplifted.

“Everyone was personable. I didn’t know what to do,” she says, reflecting back on that day she came to the college. “They walked me through the entire registration process, and I left here registered for five classes. Honestly, I’m just riding this wave right now.”

Her family has supported her new life as a student. Her husband Paul, who works as an auto technician, knows that it might be his turn after she is through. Keel takes about three face-to-face classes per semester, balancing out her schedule with online classes. This gives her time with her kids Autumn, 10, and Sam, 5.

“They know mom has to do homework now. They help me out. It’s a group effort,” she says. Her children influence many of the decisions in her life, including the desire to start college. She enjoys student life as compared to going to work and plans to continue full-time all the way through a master’s degree if she can find the financial aid and scholarships to do so.

“I’d love to get my doctorate, but I’m taking this one degree at a time,” she says. Even though she thinks she could have started working sooner with a social work degree, she has decided to stick it out and continue in psychology.

“I’m fascinated with the mind, why people do the things they do,” she says. It is an area that she has been interested in for years. She lists Carl Jung and Carl Rogers among her favorites and wants to work in counseling or therapy. “Young adults tend to be my favorite people to work with.” She would be excited to have a private practice one day.

She is determined to make sure her children follow her path to college. “I went into the workforce, and after a period of time, it didn’t pay off. I will do whatever I can to help them further their education. I never got any of that feedback at that age. I was just dropped into the world. I want to help them so that they are not lost and blindly feeling their way through the process.

“One of the most profound lessons I’ve learned in life is that no one has a clue what’s going on. The best we can hope for is, arm in arm, to wade the river together, and it’s not going to be perfect. We have to help each other out. Aim for the stars, even if you land in the mud. Life is a learning process. No one really knows, so no one should direct anyone in any way, except for what they feel about themselves.”

For Keel, after 12 years of grinding and doing her best, she discovered a better path for herself. She became whole, and very quickly everything changed, and she is radiating forward.