“I really enjoyed being back in school—I enjoyed the structure of it,” she said. “I felt lucky that as an older student I could shape my education to what I wanted to learn, rather than just focusing on grades.”

AT UVM, Helmerich found an academic home in the lab of Dr. Elizabeth Pinel who studies research on the self, with an emphasis on the importance of feeling understood by others. Pinel’s work was intrinsically interesting, with concepts and techniques that seemed transferrable to many different career paths. 

“I wanted to join a research lab with a sense of community,” Helmerich said. “It was a close atmosphere with lots of small group discussions and cool opportunities to talk with different professors and hear them present ideas on new questions they want to study.”

At Columbia she’ll be studying human behavior in organizations and the work place, and sees herself applying that knowledge as an organizational consultant. She already has some real-world experience to draw on—she’s managed the travel and rehearsal schedule for a six-member band; coordinated relationships between lawyers, publicists, agents and a fan-base; co-directed three music videos and managed sales of music and merchandise.

“I’m excited to have a career that’s a little more stable,” Helmerich said, though she plans on staying in touch with her creative side. “It’s essentially the same—it’s about human relationships and how we learn to work together.”