Victoria Pierre finding her way at FAMU

Victoria Pierre stuns in the sun. Photo courtesy: @Vick5t4r (on Instagram)

The late teens to early 20s stage is hard. 

How does one reconcile with being told exactly what to do and how to do it, then immediately face the unknown without directives?

Everyone has years of wisdom to impart to you, but no one tells a young twentysomething about the constant learning (and unlearning) they must do to feel content with their decisions. 

How does one reconcile with the fact that they are allowed the freedom to decide their desires yet deal with all consequences? How do they accept that they deserve that freedom?

For 21-year-old Victoria Pierre, answering those questions took self-determination and support. 

Belonging to a Haitian family who championed the traditional values of “school, church and home” (lekòl, legliz, lakay in Haitian Creole), Pierre felt that she had to have a solid plan of action for the rest of her life by the end of senior year of high school. 

“When I turned 18, I didn’t ease my way into [adulthood]. It was just a *clapping hands together* what are you going to do with your life?” Pierre said.

Answering that question was easy because she felt comfort was the only necessity she truly needed. The hard part was finding a career that aligned with her interests, personality and desire for financial stability. 

“If I want to do those types of things like go on vacation, give and receive gifts to my loved ones, or eat out at good restaurants when I don’t feel like cooking, I need a career that supports that,” Pierre said. 

A native of Miami, Pierre moved to Tallahassee to attend Florida A&M University. Despite her hesitance towards attention, Pierre had a predilection towards social media trend research and prediction. Finding marketing fun, she was inspired to enroll in FAMU’s SBI program for her freshman year. 

“I thought marketing might be it, but I talked to my parents about it and they didn’t see a future in that. So at that point, it was like ‘OK, do you want me to make my choices or are you going to start making my choices [for me] again?’” Pierre said. “It was just like this mental battle I was going through because I didn’t know what to do at this point.”  

After talking with various family members and friends, Pierre decided to switch her major to chemistry to consider a pharmacy track post-graduation. Calling that decision her “worst mistake ever,” she switched her major again after one semester to psychology to pursue a nursing career. 

“I spoke to Mikaila, who’s a psychology major and she’s known to give really good advice, but she doesn’t want to be a therapist. When I asked why, she explained that psychology gives her so many jobs that she doesn’t feel stuck to one job because she has this one degree,” Pierre said. “And that’s exactly how I felt. I don’t know what I want to do, but I want to have a lot of options.”

Mikaila Reyes-Clark is a graduating senior psychology student at Florida State University and one of Pierre’s childhood best friends. Reyes-Clark’s conversation with Pierre about changing her major was borne out of observation and resulted in the reassurance that Pierre needed to stand in her decision.

“[To me, it felt like] everything she did before she chose psychology was around the field. She wanted to do nursing and help other people, psychology can do that. She was in business, and that’s socializing and making deals; psychology can help you learn how to communicate with others,” Reyes-Clark said. “I think the support I gave made the decision lighter for her. Without the support and having friends directly involved in the field, she would’ve been more doubtful about it because Vicky’s someone I feel has to be shown that [success is] proven before it could be done.”

Pierre said she was fearful about deciding to switch her major again and to a degree/career that everyone on social media was disparaging, but research and her sense of self encouraged her to stand by her decision — a decision she’s truly happy with.

“I don’t think I’m a quitter, I just think that I like to choose my own path. And if I don’t like something anymore, why should I force myself to do it? I’m more of like a redirector, and I need to be committed to feel like I can encourage myself through it,” Pierre said.

Now, the junior’s biggest goal is to finish what she started. As a psychology major with a liberal arts minor, Pierre is working on completing biology prerequisites that would prepare her for the nursing track. After graduating with her bachelor’s in psychology, she hopes to attend an accelerated nursing school to receive her nursing license. Her main goal is to work with the neonatal intensive care unit.

To young college students who are unsure of their career path or fearful of changing their minds, Pierre’s path can be inspiring because it shows the value of adaptability and faith. Through using FAMU’s resources, like researching options at the Career Center and attending events like the Career Fair, and leaning on her support system, she found a field that she loves.

Yadon Johnson, a third-year FAMU psychology student, is a major part of her support system as he is her partner. He emphasized that the perception of self is most important when figuring out these years.

“Victoria adds things to my life that are only positive. She’s pretty hard on herself, which I understand [as] most people are, but she should give herself a lot more credit for who she is and how amazing she is —— in a lot of different areas,” Johnson said. 

“Experiencing life with her is my favorite thing to do.”