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Wednesday, December 1, 2021

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Allana Hill (’20) with her daughter Allana Hill (’20) with her daughter
 


From Adversity: Inspiration and a Choice

Class of 2020 graduate Allana Hill survived a toxic relationship and a rare mental illness to fulfill her career aspirations and raise her daughter.
By Aaron Burgin
 

“Everyone is passionate about what they do, and they truly want to see students succeed. Just being around people like that every day is inspiring and motivating.”

Allana Hill (’20) knows about making difficult decisions.

Years ago, she was in an abusive relationship and an onset of postpartum psychosis after the birth of her daughter led to jail time, being placed in a mental health unit and a criminal record.

In 2015, Hill had a choice to make: stay in the relationship and continue to spiral, or leave North Dakota with her daughter and start over back home in San Diego County. 

Hill chose the latter and turned to higher education to change her fortunes.

“The most difficult part of my past was when I went through postpartum psychosis, forgot who I was and could not distinguish reality from my delusions. Coming out of that, I am a stronger, more compassionate and understanding individual,” she said. 

Hill, who transferred to San Diego State University from San Diego Mesa College in 2018, graduated Saturday with a bachelor’s degree in accounting. After a summer internship with a Big Four accounting firm, the senior was offered a full-time position in December. 

She had the decision to accept the offer or decline it — and essentially start her job search from scratch. 

For most students, this would be an easy decision. Head to the Big Four firm. 

Hill isn’t most students. 

Next month, she is scheduled to start her career with Sempra Energy, the firm she chose after restarting her career search. 

“The decision to pivot in my career choice was extremely difficult and stressful, but I think my past prepared me for it,” Hill said. “Sitting at a desk for eight to 12 hours per day and not having time to spend with my daughter … all of that didn’t interest me. Ultimately, in both cases, I chose my daughter.”

Hill credits SDSU Career Services for supporting her throughout her decision-making process. She originally got involved with the department attending their career workshops, then was a mentee in the Aztec Mentor Program in 2018 before becoming a student worker with the program in spring 2019.

“I was given access to many resources and got the help I needed when I sought it out,” she said. ”Beyond that, since I work with the Aztec Mentor Program in Career Services, I work with the staff, and they are all amazing. Everyone is passionate about what they do, and they truly want to see students succeed. Just being around people like that every day is inspiring and motivating.”

Hill decided Sempra was the best fit for her, her family and her career aspirations.

She will be in the company’s three-year “rotation program,” which allows new hires to rotate annually to different departments within the firm. At the same time, she will continue to take online classes through the San Diego Community College District to get the units she will need to be eligible for her CPA license while studying for her state exams, which she plans to complete within the next 18 months. 

“So although graduation is a great milestone, my college experience is not over yet,” Hill said. “I am ready to move forward, to get off of public assistance and be more financially independent. I am thankful for the struggles I've overcome, for the support I've received and for the people I've met along the way.”

Hill’s experience with postpartum psychosis also has compelled her to volunteer in the mental health field, working with Postpartum Health Alliance and the National Alliance on Mental Illness. 

“I believe my life experiences did not happen in vain but have made me stronger, made me who I am and have allowed me to help others going through similar struggles,” she said. 

Above all else for Hill, her daughter is thriving. The seven-year-old loves to dance, play pretend and do gymnastics. She is energetic, strong-willed and bright, Hill said. 

“I have confidence that through my example, she will stand up against adversity in her life and strive for what she believes in,” said Hill. “My blessing during this pandemic is having all of my time with her.”