two lines forming a circle and pointing at each other

Thinking of hitting the refresh button? Here’s how members of the VCU community took their lives in new directions.

Following their hearts and passions led these students, faculty, staff members and graduates to make big changes, from switching majors to starting new careers.

Share this story

Change is part of life, but it’s not something everyone embraces. Making a fresh start doesn’t have to be scary. It can lead to personal growth and fulfillment that’s well worth the challenges. That’s what these five members of the Virginia Commonwealth University community have discovered after changing direction.


Jessica Seppi

Jessica Seppi: From studying broadcast journalism to statistics (and from JMU to VCU)

Once she transferred to VCU her sophomore year, Seppi took a required introduction to statistics class and fell in love with a whole new field, leading her to switch majors.

Read Jessica’s story


Joe Cates

Joe Cates: From chef to professor

Cates spent the first part of his professional life as a chef and restauranteur before a stint in rehab helped put him on a different path. He’s taught in VCU’s Focused Inquiry program since 2007.

Read Joe’s story


Tim Chavous

Tim Chavous: From football coach to academic adviser

After achieving his goal of becoming a college football coach, Chavous moved from the field to the classroom and is now a student success adviser at VCU’s School of Social Work. 

Read Tim’s story


Aubrey Moog-Ayers

Aubrey Moog-Ayers: From the film industry to social studies teacher

After college, Moog-Ayers moved to Los Angeles to work in film but soon realized the industry wasn’t a good fit with the life she wanted outside of work, including having a family. VCU’s Pathways to Teaching: Career Switchers program helped her start a new career as a high school social studies teacher.    

Read Aubrey’s story


Hikisha Harris

Hikisha Harris: From breast cancer patient to chaplain

Harris, a VCU graduate, was undergoing treatment for breast cancer when she met Jim Bonomo, a chaplain at VCU Massey Cancer Center. The encounter inspired her to return to school for a master’s degree in divinity and to become a chaplain herself. 

Read Hikisha’s story