Making a career pathway decision is not always a one and done. Sometimes, it occurs through a series of choices and experiences as well as the wisdom that comes from various learning opportunities. Breanna Lay, a student at Keiser University, Jacksonville, has found her way back to the Transportation & Logistics industry, seeing it through a new lens of appreciation and respect.
“Find out what works for you,” said Breanna. “Not every journey is straight and narrow. It’s frustrating when you think you’re wasting time and resources and you just want the answer. But, a changing mind comes with growth.”
Breanna is currently studying Business Administration with a concentration in Transportation & Logistics. She will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree in the spring of 2024. However, her connection to the Transportation & Logistics industry began with military service.
After graduating high school, Breanna entered the U.S. Marines, serving as a Landing Support Specialist from May 2014-2018. Breanna was placed into this logistics role, knowing nothing about logistics. She completed a month of logistics school in which she learned the various models of military planes, as well as their characteristics, such as weight capabilities. She worked in landing support, offloaded equipment, and completed personnel manifests. She worked rail and beach operations, exposing her to different types of environments. Breanna wanted to see the world—military service facilitated that goal.
Breanna began pursuing social work studies following her military service, but was encouraged to explore her interests and notable skill in cosmetology. She ran a beauty blog and was a successful freelance makeup artist. Breanna shifted gears to take courses at Paul Mitchell in Jacksonville. However, her entrepreneurial mindset re-set her course to Keiser University, where she began studying Business and Finance using her GI Bill. At the time, Breanna thought the program of study would help her determine how to best craft her own beauty brand and product line.
Once at Keiser, Breanna met students enrolled in Logistics, as the Business Administration and Transportation & Logistics programs are closely aligned. After chatting with Professor Dr. Jeremy Smith, she was encouraged to shift her focus to studying Transportation & Logistics. This has allowed her to return to an area of familiarity from her military service, but has afforded tremendous opportunities to see this from the civilian perspective as “a long-term career pathway with a wealth of opportunity,” rather than as an assignment.
Breanna’s choice has already resulted in amazing opportunities. Breanna joined the Port Club at Keiser University, an extra-curricular activity facilitated by members of the Propeller Club of Jacksonville. An international professional association, the Propeller Club consists of local chapters that provide excellent opportunities for advocacy, networking and outreach. Breanna was selected to be part of an exclusive co-hort of three Keiser students who travelled to Greece for five days to the International Propeller Club’s Conference. Along with industry professionals from around the globe, as well as French and Greek students, Breanna learned about industry trends, such as “green, autonomous innovations that will continue to change how people and cargo are moved safely and according to regulations.”
The Propeller Club of Jacksonville, also selected Breanna to receive a $5,000 scholarship. “I was overcome with emotion, realizing the magnitude of this recognition for my hard work.”
At Keiser, industry specific field trips and informational interviews are allowing Breanna to see which aspect of the industry interests her the most. She is impressed with employers at JAX Port as well as Dr. Smith’s hands-on approach to teaching. She appreciates an industry with a large scale purpose and the sense of community generated by industry professionals who love what they do. Breanna sees this career pathway as one that will generate “a sense of purpose and a tight-knit community” for anyone willing to pursue it.
For her, the route to her career pathway of choice is an unexpected welcome home of sorts. “It’s part of the journey. It’s part of my story.”