Choosing a Career Path

Title

Choosing a Career Path

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Identifier

EcungW_01_20160921_Clip01

Publication Date

9-21-2016

Publisher

The Making Cancer History® Voices Oral History Collection, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

City

Houston, Texas

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

Transcript

Wenonah Ecung, PhD

Well, that is interesting, when we look at what's going on today. So I started—college-wise, I started at San Antonio College. It was abbreviated SAC. It was a two-year community college in San Antonio. And it was in preparation for me to take all the prerequisites to move to something, which I thought at the time was going to be business. Shortly—well, not shortly, about a year and a half into that, I met with my school counselor, a male. He advised me that as a female, I needed to consider nursing or becoming a teacher. And I didn't want to do either one. So I went home to discuss it with my mom. And being who she was, she said, "Well, he's the expert. If that's what he's telling you, then we need to choose." And we narrowed it—I said, "Well, I really don't want to teach." She said, "Well, then, you'll have to be a nurse." And that is how I ended up in nursing. That is totally different from what's going on, and all the options that girls have before them today. But I do want to add, my counselor at the moment didn't know he was doing me a favor. But it actually turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. Nursing turned out to be a scuffle board to launch from in terms of pretty much any direction I wanted to. So he really did me a favor without knowing it.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What were some of the assumptions that you made about nursing at the time, that made you think, "No, I don't want to do that"?

Wenonah Ecung, PhD

What I wanted to do was go into the Air Force. That, I know, was following the path of my father. My mother, being a mother, said, "Absolutely not." She felt she didn't want me in harm's way. So she, without discussion, took that option off the table. When he mentioned nursing or teaching, I, without realizing, I think I saw those as professions dominated by females, and I just thought I could do so much more. I could contribute so much more, something different. I think that was what initially turned me off about either being a teacher or a nurse.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

What—now, that's really cool that at that age, you felt, wow, I've got a lot inside me. What were some of your ambitions at the time?

Wenonah Ecung, PhD

Well, I knew I wanted to go into business. I didn't know exactly what "business" meant, but I had had a couple of jobs prior to that. I worked at—it was a grocery chain in San Antonio, and I don't know if it's still there, called "Handy Andy." Pretty much—well, they had Handy Andy, and H-E-B. So it was a grocery chain, like H-E-B. I worked my way up there from being on the floor to the cashier to the office. So I knew there was something there in terms of me being somewhat business-astute. I had also worked for—and I remember it to this day—Frank T. Drought Engineering Corporation. And that was a small engineering firm, where the owner, Frank Drought, whose daughter was going off to a university and they wanted someone to replace her in the office. But it was pretty much like a girl Friday, where you did everything. You were receptionist, you greeted visitors, but you also did payroll for the office. And so I just knew there was more—I felt there was more that I could do. I had been able to take over that entire office and produce for the family the way they wanted.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

How old were you at the time?

Wenonah Ecung, PhD

Probably—I graduated from high school a year early. So I was probably 16.

Tacey Ann Rosolowski, PhD

Wow, that's amazing! So you had a lot of confidence.

Wenonah Ecung, PhD

I did.

Choosing a Career Path

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