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Written by: Ana Tavarez, KU online student, Psychology program

I have been an award-winning bio-illustrator and graphic artist for about 20 years (Four National Association of Conservation Information awards, one local Gold Addy Award, and a Capital City Chapter Florida Public Relations award). It has been a privilege to work on projects with clients including the Florida Chamber of Commerce Foundation, Macys, Bridgestone, and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. I became an artist out of futility, not desire. Until recently, my life’s journey has been one lacking direction and focus. I have always kept my fascination with psychology locked in my closet of hidden treasures. The effects of an unfulfilled life prominently dictated my every move. Then everything changed as I got the opportunity to ride my friends’ big, black Friesian horse.  

I have grown up on horses, riding the animals before I could ride a bike. As I cantered around my friend’s riding ring enjoying the gargantuan movements of the big horse, I realized with amazement I had been directing the movements of 1200-pound animals without fear for years. What was preventing me from directing the movements of my own life? Why was I afraid? The answer was existential. I have been living an unfulfilled life. As I considered the communication between human and horse, a renewed interest in human relationships peaked. It was time to tighten the reins – of my life.

One week later I became engaged in my online journey with Keiser University. The flexibility of classes has allowed me to continue assisting in the support of our family, and afforded an education comparable to programs offered by the University of Florida and Florida State University. They are even accredited through the same association, Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

I am a member of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s (FWC) Crisis Intervention Stress Management (CISM) team, and am engaging in a partnership with a local equine psychotherapist as an equine specialist. The dynamic and engaging facilitators have inspired an insatiable appetite for all things psychological and relational. My critical thinking has improved, and I am now finding direction. It is my desire to continue education through the graduate level, engage in marriage and family therapy, and to address the gap in PTSD treatment for law enforcement and first responders.

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