An “absolutely surreal, life-changing moment.”
That’s how Natalie Woughter ’19 described the events of September 11, 2001. She was just 24 years old at the time, but Natalie knew what she wanted to do. She joined the army one year after the attacks.
“When I first got in the army I went for a medical job because I wanted to help save lives,” said Natalie. “I knew I always wanted to help people, but without a degree I didn’t know how. 9/11 changed that.”
Natalie was deployed to Afghanistan, where she worked in the operating room as an OR Tech before working in a Combat Support Hospital. After 13 years, Natalie was medically discharged from the army. She knew she needed a new career, so she decided to pursue the one thing that had been there for her since childhood.
“I was a foster child and lived in group homes until I was 18; the only outlet I had was artwork,” said the Baltimore, Maryland, native. “I loved painting and storytelling, but drawing was always my forte.”
Though she says its cliché, Natalie’s favorite artist is Vincent van Gogh.
“Van Gogh has always been inspirational to me because he had a rough life, but he loved very hard,” she said. “He didn’t let the public’s constant critiques keep him from his passion.”
Natalie believes art and creativity can have a positive effect on all children, just like it did on her. After graduating from SUNY Corning Community College with an associate’s degree in Fine Arts, Natalie plans to transfer to Alfred University. Her goal is to become a K-12 Art Teacher.
“I think there are people who like to teach art at the college level because the students have already gained some knowledge of the subject, but how rewarding would it be to be the person that helps inspire a child to become an artist? That’s who I want to be,” said Natalie.
Natalie credits SUNY CCC and its professors for reminding her how much she loves to learn.
“When you’re young, you feel the pressures of society to go to college and get a degree, but you don’t always appreciate the learning part,” said Natalie. “I’ve really enjoyed the learning part. I feel refreshed.”
According to SUNY CCC Art Professor David Higgins, Natalie’s work ethic and life experiences will help her succeed.
“Natalie’s personal history will be invaluable to her future as a teacher,” said David. “She has truly seen it all, and has the inner strength to inspire and enlighten people from all walks of life.”
Natalie is looking forward to pursuing her bachelor’s degree, and eventually her master’s degree.