Brave Career Change Stories: Grad School (Interview With Fran Singson)

Filed in Uncategorized — February 20, 2023

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In this blog, we’re going to hear from one of my former clients from the Living Bravely group program, Fran Singson, about the brave career change she made.

This interview is part of a series of conversations with members of our community who have gone through the same challenges as many of us have.

From navigating immigrant experiences to overcoming generational lessons and career uncertainty.

Through their stories, we hope to inspire and empower those who may be on the brink of making a career change but are unsure of where to start.

These stories are the ones I wish I had heard when I was contemplating my own career change.

Fran’s journey is particularly special to me, and I’m excited to share it with you. She was a member of Living Bravely’s cohort 5, and her story is filled with valuable insights and wisdom.

So, let’s jump right in. 

Could share where you’re based and what degree you’re currently pursuing?

Fran: I’m really happy to be here and kind of talk about my journey. I’m originally from Virginia Beach, Virginia. I’m currently studying mental health and rehabilitation counseling at VCU, which is in Richmond. Second generation Filipino American. My parents moved here in the eighties and dad was in the Navy. 

What would you like to celebrate?

Fran: I feel like I don’t take enough time to celebrate it, but just the fact that I was able to take a lot of pain and bad moments in my life and turn it into a calling, I guess.

I remember being in such a dark place when I started Living Bravely with you in spring 2021, not really knowing what was next and feeling just like stuck. And I think I wanna celebrate today not being stuck, just feeling free to do the professional things that I want and also balancing that with my family.

It’s a struggle every day, but having the chance to do that feels so good. Wow.

Q: What’s the career path you were pursuing originally before stepping into what you’re doing?

Fran: That’s a great question. So like I said, I’m originally from Virginia Beach, so when it came time to apply for undergrad, I wanted to go a little bit farther from home, but not too far away. So I moved to Richmond, which is about an hour and a half in land for undergrad, for my first semester, I actually studied fashion merchandising.

I kind of was of the mind like, I wanna do my own thing. I wanna be creative. But in the second semester, I actually ended up switching back to biology, going for that pre-dental route just because I wanted to do what my parents had wanted for me, which was to go to a lucrative job, like to be a doctor to get that clout, et cetera. 

But I kind of just went along with that and almost forcing myself to believe that that was the path that I wanted. Even though something deep inside of me knew that I was just doing it to make my parents happy and also make it seem like their sacrifices were worth it. I was of the mind that if I was successful as a dentist, then it would just justify all the sacrifices they made.

So looking back, I think that was the idea behind it, but at the moment I was like, yeah, I wanna be a dentist. Like I wanna do this, I wanna study biology. That was my undergrad. I took my dental admission exam, studied biology and chemistry all those three and a half years, and eventually graduated with my Bachelor’s of Science in spring 2018.

I did a lot of things that I liked to do in undergrad. A lot of it didn’t feel aligned with who I was and who I wanted to be, but I guess I just didn’t have the words to describe that yet.

Q: Did you have any hesitations or doubts when you were trying to make a switch from dental school to now mental health?

Fran: Thinking back, I think the biggest thing was, have I gone too far in my previous career path that I would’ve wasted that time by changing to mental health. And I remember in the back of my mind, and I didn’t want to let this control me, but the fear of judgment of my community, the people that I had studied with, and then my family. Just to have them think that I was taking the opportunities that I’ve had for granted.

I think that was kind of the fear going in and that I wasn’t good enough, or that it was too late to make a change to something that was more aligned with me.

Q: How did you tell your family about the change and what was their reaction?

Fran: I was actually super afraid of how my family and extended family would react. But actually in reality, they were super open to it and really curious about what I was doing.

Like I mentioned, it was at the height of the pandemic that I had tried to put these plans into motion or just even had the thought of switching over to the mental health field.

So whenever I was applying for school and my aunt asked me, “What are you up to Francine? Are you still planning on dental school?”. I’d be like, “Actually, no, I’m gonna pivot a little bit”.

But I would open up with the fact that, you know how in the pandemic, like you’ve felt lonely and you’ve had some really dark times, just adjusting to being alone, et cetera. I wanna be in a role that kind of helps you when you’re in that place. 

And then bringing into the grief journey that my whole family experienced with the loss of my dad. Like what if there was a place where you could talk about that within our community?

So, yeah, honestly, like they were very receptive. My mom was at peace with the idea of “you should do something that you wanna do”. And it just ties back to the fact that a lot of the expectations that I had placed myself or placed on myself in the past were self-imposed and more like perceived rather than the reality.

Q: What would you want someone to know who is thinking about making a change in their career and maybe making a change to go to grad school?

Fran: Firstly, I wanna say your feelings are valid. You know yourself the best, and I think you should be allowed to let joy and hope inform your decisions rather than fear. Would also offer that it’s really important to fully lean into what you wanna do. Connect with others.

I don’t think I would’ve been able to make as big of a change as I did without connecting with Nicole and all of the girls and Living bravely. And yeah, just let your strengths shine through and look at how far you’ve come. I think we should be allowed to celebrate our accomplishments.

My invitation to you…make that brave career shift

You don’t have to choose between honoring what you really want and your values of family.

You can DO BOTH. Pursuing your purpose and joy brings honor to your family all at the same time.

Sometimes, you’ll need to make difficult choices to get to where you truly want to be. Having that reality for yourself isn’t something you just stumble upon – You create it! 

And Fran’s story shows us that it’s possible. My conversation with Fran brought me tears. I loved hearing her story and the progression from where she started to where she is now. It gives me so much excitement for the next round of Living Bravely.


I hope these tips were helpful for you. And if you’re looking to get support on your next career change, I’d love to support you in my group program, Living Bravely. Enrollment opens March 2nd.

Any questions? DM me on Instagram @nicolecruzcoaching 

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