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#TruEMU Update: Kayla Tyler

In high school I was always told that I was such a good academic writer. I excelled in English Composition and I was fully capable of articulating contrasting viewpoints within a given topic. Maybe I should be a journalist or better yet, and TV Anchorman. I grew up watching Hugh Perkins on Fox 2 News specifically at 6 p.m. and 10 p.m. in my household. Most of the time the local news would play in the background, but the intro sound to Fox 2 News will forever echo in my own nostgiala. At one point I thought, that's exactly what I want to be, an anchorman just like Hugh Perkins. My freshman year of college was eye opening. Not only did I see and experience "the temptations" that every freshman sees on campus, but I also realized that I wanted to break out of my own shell by trying new things while focusing on my future. Since I excelled at writing, the next logical step was to start polishing my writing skills and start getting familiar with the journalism field. To tell you the truth, I hated the essence of reporting and from the two courses that I did take at EMU I learned two things:

  1. I hated professors who felt like turning in work multiple times in order to get a better grade was progress. (In actuality it felt more like a psuedo power flex over me as a student, and do you know how much time is wasted turning in an assignment to get a C+, just to redo it again to get a B-, just to redo that assignment again to finally get a B+?) Stop playing with me! &

  2. The field of Journalism just wasn't for me at the time. So I had to switch my major to something else.

The whole purpose of going to college was to find out what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I genuinely wanted to feel fulfilled and invested in my career. This is something that isn't as simple as society might think it is. Considering I was 18 years old at the time, the pressure to do better was immense. When I took a deep dive into what I already enjoyed from my film appreciation course; (learning everything within film + television + acting + directing), I found out what it means to work behind the scenes in film and what it fully entails. Who knew that working behind the scenes, away from the spotlight, was what I was most comfortable with. Most career changes happen either abruptly, or by chance of faith. Changing my major was a huge decision, one that I still have remind my parents that they weren't too supportive of initially. Ultimately the decisions we make in life impacts our future, and I'm forever grateful of the choice I went with.

"If something isn't working, then find a way to make it work for you. "

My next interview fully reflects that decision that many graduates face post graduation. I'm having fun writing these articles and hearing so many different perspectives after spending time within the "working adult world".

Without further ado, let me re-introduce Kayla Tyler.

#TruEMU Updates was created to help undergraduate, graduate, and other audiences see the reality of what happens after college through real interviews with some of my past clients.

What was your major? Are you still in your field of study?

My major was Therapeutic Recreation, currently no.

I had a change of heart after working in a different field. I wish I fully understood what the career was. I am now actively pursuing a social work degree, a Masters of Social Work (MSW) and working on researching potential graduate schools. I always thought social work just involved Child Protective Services, but I realized I can do more with this master's degree.

What is your job now? Is that where you expected to work?

I just recently transitioned into the role of case manager after being an Autism therapist for the last 3 years. In that position, I was trained on how to work with kids with non-verbal cues. My time there was definitely an eye opening experience. Now that I work as case manager, I know it’s exactly where I need to be. I’m excited though to see where the journey takes me!

What do you like about your job? What’s making you stay?

I really like working with the kids and everything I’ve learned about individuals who have Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). The stability with my current company is very beneficial right now.

What lessons is your current job teaching you?

One key word: Patience. I’ve also learned how important it is to work somewhere that aligns with my own core values. I’ve worked with some children as young as 18 months old with autism, (just when the brain is starting to develop.) My current job helped me realize that I have to master patience; learning that a baby’s behavior is often unpredictable, and I had to start from the basics of learning sign language techniques, analyzing and comparing data, etc.

What’s your dream job? How do you think you will get there?

Still unsure. But I am applying to MSW programs this year. You can do so much with a social work degree! Learning about this field steered me into a path that I never thought of going into. I’m still deciding on what concentration I want to focus on after my MSW.

“To be honest, I’m just along for the ride right now. LOL.”

Has your experience at EMU helped you get to where you are at? Career wise? What about socially, emotionally, or spiritually?

No, I feel that I didn’t get as much assistance that I could have been provided. I would honestly do my undergrad experience elsewhere if I could. I have a close friend that went to a Historically Black College/University (HBCU) and from my friend’s experience, they had more resources for them within their major. I personally wish I had more help when selecting courses for class and better resources for specifically African Americans to utilize. I feel as though EMU has not helped my career since I had a bad academic advisor, but I did learn how to be independent within college and navigate the system.

I’ve experienced a range of emotions where it really made me think: “Wow, it's just really me looking out for me.”

Have you made any connections with other EMU Alumni?

Yes, just the ones I’ve met during my time there.

If not for EMU, how would your experience differ if you went to another university?

I feel I would have received more guidance when it came to changing my major, or more support when I was having difficulties in specific courses. I expected to be somewhere else. It wouldn’t have taken me this long to figure out my career!


I want to use this space to give a special shoutout to Source Booksellers for allowing me and Kayla to select their bookstore as the location to capture her update. With the weather getting colder, it might be wise staying inside and cuddling up with a good book to read or maybe a few! Source Booksellers, is an independent bookstore located in Detroit's Midtown district, with a unique niche collection of non-fiction books. They offer all kinds of books and sideline items that enhance your life and your overall lifestyle. This bookstore is truly one of a kind. The mother daughter duo (Janet Webster Jones, and Alyson Turner) are both owners of the bookstore. Janet Webster Jones has a background as a retired educator of 40 years from Detroit Public Schools, and Alyson Turner is currently the manager of operations within the store and the online business sales.

Janet has been in the bookselling business since 1989, with Source Booksellers opening as her first brick and mortar store, inside the Spiral Collective, a shared space with three other women-owned, African American businesses on Cass Avenue and Willis Street in Detroit's Midtown area in 2002. The bookstore moved locations in 2013, right across the street to its current home in the new Auburn Building at 4240 Cass Ave., Suite 105. The physical space of the bookstore has recently expanded and now has the capacity to provide group book discussions and guest appearances from authors of color. Their online catalog of books are sure to intrigue those who are interested in history, culture, health and well-being, metaphysics, spirituality, and books about women. Stay up to date on their virtual events to enrich your mind, body and your spirit.

Thank you again to Alyson Turner for inviting both of us and also suggesting that I host a Q/A session for a photography book launch in early October. Both Kayla and I share a love a books and felt that this location would be a great meeting spot to capture her update. Go support your local bookstores!


Would you say having a college education is a scam?

No. It’s just not for everyone. Please don’t follow the advice of “LLC Twitter”. It’s getting a bit ridiculous online nowadays.

"Not everyone has to be an entrepreneur just like not everyone needs to have a degree. My point is college is not your only option for success."

How do you feel about the national crisis regarding student loan debt? What do you think higher officials could do in the government?

I think it’s ridiculous lol. They could admit that college degrees currently don't always mean that a person will make the amount they’ve made us to believe when we were younger. I believe the first two years of college should be free, because some of those courses were a waste of money. Since the value of a bachelor’s degree has decreased, The Department of Education needs to begin the work on making higher education less of a privilege for those who can’t afford it. They need to stop playing and FORGIVE THE LOANS!!!!

Has the 2020 pandemic affected you in any way?

Mentally, yes.

How have you navigated throughout this pandemic and (if any), what strategies have you used to help with your mental health?

There were a couple of things that happened to me during the pandemic. For two and half months I was laid off before going back to work which affected me immensely. I just took it day by day. I stayed in therapy (virtually), and tried to maintain a routine as much as I could. The adjustment period after this took a minute for me to focus, but then I remembered that A. I still had a job, and B. I kept reminding myself none of what’s happening in the world is my fault.

What are some next steps in your life? Goals? Visions? Be descriptive.

I spent the summer working on and applying to various MSW programs. I’m happy to say that in January I will be attending Howard University’s online MSW program. Becoming a clinical social worker has been a dream of mine and I’m so excited to begin the steps of making it a reality. I look forward to being able to one day provide services to my community, especially black women. One day in the future, I would also love to complete my certification to become a doula, specializing in postpartum.

“Go at your own pace.” Money will come.”

What advice would you give to someone who may not want to go to college within your field/career? Would you persuade them otherwise?

Take advantage of free courses online or in person, and other free resources available to your community if you do not go to college after high school. I would have definitely taken advantage of changing careers sooner than later.

What final advice can you give to an undergraduate student at EMU specifically?

Stepping out of your comfort zone is really key to being successful in college. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, be active on campus, that's how you meet new people. If you’re in any organizations, take advantage of building relationships with alumni or finding mentors within that network. I have so many good memories shared between my orgs P.I.N.K. and Black Student Union (BSU).


Post-Grad Business Review Questions

Why did you choose Piedmont Blue to do your Graduation Photos?

I love the quality of the pictures he was capturing, and I had to support a friend.

What made Piedmont Blue stick out to you (compared to other photographers or businesses?)

The booking process wasn’t hard, packages were explained very thoroughly at the first consultation meeting. It was really easy!

If you can remember, was there anything that Emanuel Terrell (Manny) had done during your shoot that made you aware that you were in good hands with the photographer?

Emanuel had a very comforting demeanor. Even when I expressed I was nervous and didn’t take pictures often, he helped provide feedback and directed me on how to pose for some of the shots captured.

As far as quality, do you still like your graduation photos?

Yes, they are still amazing!

Would you like to add any additional comments about Piedmont Blue?

I can't wait to book again!

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