Natalie Vega-Finn’s journey to a rewarding career
When Natalie Vega-Finn walked across the stage to receive her master’s degree in 2021, she did so as a daughter, mother, wife and a full-time employee at Indiana University Northwest. She had tucked her eyes behind sunglasses, not so much in defense of the day’s sunny rays, but rather to camouflage the fact they were brimming with tears.
A native of Hammond, Indiana, Vega-Finn graduated with a B.A. in psychology from IU Northwest in 1998. Certain that she was going to be a clinical therapist, she moved to Chicago to earn a master’s in clinical counseling. After completing 45 credit hours of coursework and 1,000 internship hours, she realized that the counseling field was not a good fit and stopped pursuing her graduate degree.
“In hindsight, I kick myself for not finishing. I should have finished the degree and pursued something else career-wise, but I didn’t. Instead, I was hired at the organization where I completed my internship hours, a non-profit social services organization that provided support for adults with intellectual disabilities and mental illness,” Vega-Finn said. “Even though I didn’t want to be a therapist, I knew I still wanted to be in some kind of helping profession.”
After returning to Northwest Indiana to start a family and having two daughters — Hazel and Violet — Vega-Finn applied for an administrative assistant role with the Department of Biology at IU Northwest. In time, Vega-Finn transferred her skillset and became an academic advisor for the Departments of Psychology and Biology.