Mar 24, 2019

How happy are you at work?

After a car accident, Saramae Cutts was unsure if she would ever walk or talk again.

Once she woke up from her 10-day coma, her lungs collapsed.

This was in addition to the severe brain injury she suffered and the emergency tracheotomy she needed in order to breathe.

This life-changing event helped Cutts make the decision to pursue a career in special education.

Having to re-learn the most basic functions, she saw how each day could be both a struggle and a triumph.

Coming so close to death, her rehabilitation inspired her to devote her time to helping others overcome the obstacles in their everyday lives.

Cutts, a first-year special education master’s student, is one of a larger group of people who experience high levels of satisfaction in their careers.

According to a study that surveyed 27,000 people, conducted by the University of Chicago, people with professional jobs that include helping or serving people are more satisfied and happy.

Of the six top professions listed in the study, Fresno State has programs directly related to these four areas: physical therapy, writing, teaching and special-education teaching.

With the high levels of satisfaction and happiness highlighted in the national survey, Fresno State graduates and students have a variety of personal experiences to share.

An inspired teacher:

Saramae Cutts studies special education after personal experiences.

From an early age, Cutts understood what it meant to have ‘special’ needs.

“My father was disabled, having only one arm. My grandparents were both blind. I went to school with a boy who had no legs,” Cutts said. “In 1991, I was in a car accident that would change the direction of my life.”

After her own rehabilitation at Children’s Hospital Central California, Cutts managed to graduate from high school a year early and set her sights on special education.

“It’s hard to explain the feeling I feel when I work with students who have suffered the same injuries, but have not recovered to the degree I have,” she said.

Though she can attest to the extremely rewarding sides of her career, Cutts admits that it does not come without a price.

“On a normal day, I stay until 6 p.m., after the students go home at 2:30 p.m.,” she explained. “Some parents have unrealistic expectations for their child. Trying to explain to them that little Suzie may never read is extremely stressful.”

Physical Therapy:

Rachel Worman experiences world of health-consciousness and enjoys it.

After studying biopsychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, Rachel Worman discovered her interest in wellness and preventative health maintenance. Now a candidate for the Doctor of Physical Therapy program, Worman has enjoyed her experiences in this field.

“I immediately fell in love with the work environment, because I was surrounded by many outgoing, active, health-conscious physical therapists,” Worman said. “There are so many amazing opportunities and exciting changes in this profession right now, leaving a lot of room to grow.”

Though she enjoys the work she does, Worman explained that the public is not necessarily aware of what her career entails.

“Our profession as a whole has not done a great job educating the community on our broad scope of practice and services that we can offer,” she said. “Many people I know think of physical therapy as limited to sports/orthopedic type rehabilitation.”

Hoping to one day abolish the idea of a typical physical therapist, Worman discussed the range of options in this field, including pediatrics, neurology and women’s health. Still, she seemed more than satisfied with her decision to pursue physical therapy.

“I definitely think it is satisfying to work in a profession where, at the end of the day, you have done your best to make someone’s life better,” she said.

Best of both worlds:

Mike Maniquiz is a teacher and a writer.

As both a teacher and writer, Mike Maniquiz represents two out of the top six professions from the University of Chicago survey.

A part-time lecturer at Fresno State and Fresno City College, Maniquiz tells how he was inspired by a previous teacher.

“During my freshman year, a composition teacher wrote a comment on my paper saying something like ‘If you work hard, you will become a writer,’ he said. “This was the first time anyone ever said something like this to me before.”

Those few kind words sparked Maniquiz in a way he never felt before.

Having never considered he could become a professional writer, a new world opened up to him.

“I believed her, and her kind words opened me up to the beauty of language and the authors who made a living on words,” he said.

For Maniquiz, that “living” feels a little different now, as the written word has changed in front of his eyes.

“It’s a very visual world right now thanks to mass media,” he said. “The written word is no longer the primary means of communicating.”

Despite the evolution, Maniquiz retains his great sense of satisfaction in his work, as writing serves as an essential part of his existence.

“Writing is expression,” he said. “It’s funny how I am now a composition teacher, kind of like the English teacher who first noticed my talent… writing gives me a sense of completion.”

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