I always wanted to do something with computers; I've loved them ever since we got our first one (TRS-80) when I was in my early teens. I have no idea what prompted my father to drop over $800 at Radio Shack that day (for a computer with a whopping 16 k of memory!) , but I was thrilled. I dove in immediately, teaching myself how to program in BASIC and spending hours poring over Rainbow programming magazines. Later on when Macs were introduced to my school I volunteered as a tutor in the computer lab, just so I could spend more time with those magical machines.
I got sidetracked with photography right after high school, not because it was a passion but because I got the job and it paid the bills. However, a friend at the camera store I worked at kept my interest in computers strong by supplying me with hardware that he didn't need anymore and teaching me how to build computers from the motherboard up. I had a 286, then a 386, and continually upgraded and learned as he upgraded and taught. I will always be grateful to him as he taught me to be fearless with computers; to roll up my sleeves and dive on in.
Then I joined the army, because they told me they'd pay me to become a computer tech. Sho'nuff, I spent 13 months training to be an IT hardware tech... and then got shunted away from it with each and every posting. True, I did some very interesting things in the fields of electronic warfare and long-range sat comm, but it wasn't what I really wanted to do, you know?
When I knew I had to leave the army due to a knee injury I had a long period of soul-searching and aptitude tests with the Personnel Development section, until one day I had the revelation that I could now do exactly what I wanted to do: programming. (Every aptitude test I took pointed me strongly in that direction... hello? Clue phone on aisle 8?)
A semester and a half into the program and I know with every fiber of my being that this is where I belong. It's such a good fit for my OCD-leaning, detail- and puzzle-loving logical mind. I am grateful for this chance to pursue my dream and look forward to the journey ahead.