Most people have pivot points in their lives. They usually signify — or prompt — changes. And change is often intimidating.
Utah Valley University student Sarah Cherrington has pivoted numerous times in her life but has learned to make those pivots like a well-trained ballerina.
A junior studying business management, Cherrington has made a number of pivots in her journey. She started in 1998 at what was then Utah Valley State College, taking concurrent enrollment classes when she was in high school.
“I was grateful for that when I started my studies on campus,” she said. “Later I took a couple classes when I was in my 20s. I returned in 2017 and am working on my bachelor’s degree.”
She got married in 2000 and began traveling the world with her husband, making extreme sports films. Initially, she enjoyed that aspect of life, she said, but divorced in 2008 and put the sports photography into the “hobby” category.
A couple of jobs later, she found herself traveling again, putting on more than 200 events a year for Traeger Grills.
“Each of those events needs a display, a cohesive look, terrific modeling, booth placement, design, rentals, renewals, contracts, insurance, freight delivery and more,” she said.
Cherrington married again in 2012 and began a new series of pivots. In 2016, she had another changing point with in vitro fertilization, and had a daughter, Lilee, later that year. The family moved to Washington State the following year, but their plans produced another pivot. She began traveling again and was home for approximately 30 hours a week, which she considered unacceptable.
“My sweet infant wasn’t getting to see me,” she said. Another pivot, both in location and vocation. The family returned to Utah.
“It was humbling to admit that a wonderfully planned pivot in your life did not come to fruition like it was supposed to,” she said. “However, I do not regret any of this — being a stepmom, working, traveling, coming in and out of school. I have lots of poignant experiences that have created the person that I am. Some have been heart-breaking, and not things that you want to broadcast.”
She returned to UVU to get her degree, combining business with her passion for nontraditional family building, which she said has lots of different meanings. In addition, she has been a volunteer at the Utah Infertility Resource Center.
At UVU, she has been associated with the women’s cohort of the Center for the Advancement of Leadership LEAD program. The connections she made there helped her learn universal truths, she said. Initially planning on helping to fix the visibility of infertility, she pivoted to working to help women.
“I see how easy it is to get caught up in competition, how easy it is to climb the ladder by pushing people down,” she said. “I have been trying within my own heart and my life to search for the glitter in other people and help them to see it, especially in other women. It is about being a mirror for other people, reflecting their strengths.”
Taking those times away from her planned route were helpful to her, she said.
“My whole plan in life was to be a mom,” she said. “I was going to have seven kids by the time I was 30 years old. That didn’t happen, but I have realized I have grown a lot and learned a lot in the last nine years.”
“I feel like my life is on a better trajectory and I have pivoted into knowledge,” she added. “I would encourage others to further their education. It is worth the effort. It is not easy, but it is worth it. I have learned a lot, have grown a lot. My children and friends see that it is possible for them and I can be an example. The effort I have put in is paying off differently than I thought but it is better.”
She paid tribute to those who helped her at UVU, including resources that identified scholarships and financial aid.
“There are plenty of other people who would love to support you and your dreams,” she said. “You need to try, and open up your mind and mouth.”