Carrie Hill Steckl ’92: From the halls of academia to a broom closet
Carrie Hill Steckl ’92 knew life in academia was not the right fit for her. Here is her story in her own words.
I was finishing up my Ph.D. at Indiana University and deciding what to do next. Most of my professors, peers, and family expected me to seek an academic position at a major research university. I was primed for it, with several scholarly publications already under my belt. But deep down, I knew that wasn’t the right fit for me.
I found myself in Utah, working as the first Southern Utah Outreach Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association. My office was a donated broom closet in an assisted living facility. At 6 feet tall, my knees didn’t fit under the tiny desk supplied. What have I done? crossed my mind more than once. But accepting that challenge was one of the best choices I’ve made because it taught me how to build relationships with others who share a goal of service. It allowed me to be part of something that helped hundreds of local families affected by Alzheimer’s disease who, before then, had nowhere to turn. And it helped me see that it’s well worth doing what you know is right for you, even if others wanted you to do something else.
Since then, I married at 41, had my daughter at 44, and started writing screenplays at 47. Right before the pandemic, I won a screenplay competition at a local film festival that fortified my love of the written word. Now, as I explore all sorts of creative writing, I think back to those days in the broom closet and smile. Finding success and satisfaction with that career choice seemed implausible. But so did having a child in my mid-40s, or writing a screenplay with no formal training. We need to try to do those things others think we cannot or should not do.