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Why I got 2 college degrees and still chose truck driving

Christi Walton snapping a selfie from the front seat of her company truck.

After high school I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life for a career.

I fell into EMS (Emergency Medical Services) and became an EMT and later a Paramedic. I did this for about 10 years and decided that I wanted to take a different path. My dad had been working for Schneider for some time and suggested that I get my CDL and team with him.

I was terrified that I was not going to be able to successfully learn to drive such a huge vehicle and gave my trainer a run for his money, so to speak. I did quite well in training after I got over the fear of driving a semi and what all it entailed. The further training I received on the road from my father is irreplaceable. He taught me so much about managing my time, driving the truck responsibly, defensively and safely, and just life on the road as a truck driver. I wouldn't trade the time I spent on the road with my dad for anything.

Bouncing around

After about six months on the road with him I was offered a position as an Outbound Specialist for a distribution center in Houston from which Schneider’s logistics division contracted the delivery of parts to dealerships. That position ended due to downsizing in April 2007. Since then, I have worked as a roadie for a local cover band, driven a school bus, attempted nursing school, graduated with honors form The Art Institute of Houston with an Associates of Applied Science in Culinary Arts and decided to continue my education at Stephen F Austin State University for my Bachelor of Science in Hospitality Administration.

Back home behind the wheel

This leads me to where I am today. In the spring semester of 2015, I was two classes away from graduation and ran out of financial aid. There was no way that I was going to be able to make the money I needed to be able to pay for my last two classes on a waitress' salary. I talked with my family and decided to come back to Schneider. Within two weeks I was back in Dallas training and refreshing my driving skills after my 10-year hiatus.

Revisiting the Dallas facility was bittersweet because the last time I was there my father was with me. He was on his way home from being on the road and suffered a fatal heart attack in August 2012, only an hour and a half after arriving home safely. My family and I are eternally grateful that he was able to make it home even though it was only for a moment. Since then my mother, sister and I have struggled to regain our footing and learn to live without the cornerstone of our family.

Losing my dad, finding myself

Every time I get in that truck I am closer than I have ever felt to my father since he passed. I call on him often to help me with tricky docks, backing and maneuvering the truck in all kinds of conditions. He loved working for Schneider because of the values Schneider honors everyday with every person. I have never felt like a "number" working with Schneider. When I call my leadership team, they listen to what I have to say and take into account my opinion. I've always felt valued and important to Schneider and that is important to me when it comes to the company I choose to work for. As truckers, we spend a lot of time away from home and our families and Schneider understands that.

I'm looking forward to a long career with Schneider and believe that my Bachelor in Hospitality Administration degree will serve me well in a leadership position in the near future.

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About the author
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Christi has been a solo driver in Schneider’s Van Truckload division since Spring 2015, but she was previously a Schneider Team driver with her father. Before driving, Christi was an EMT and Paramedic. Between her stints as a team and solo driver, she held positions in logistics, as a roadie for a local cover band and as a school bus driver. Before returning to driving, she also earned an associate’s degree in culinary arts and a bachelor’s degree in hospitality administration.

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