Until two years ago, I didn't know User Experience Design existed.
I'm no Luddite, but I'd grown up using hand-me down Nintendos, hand-me-down winter jackets ('cause you don't really find them in the tropics), and hand-me-down computers. Most of what I knew about computers was networking and messing around with Myspace styling. So, like many people who want to graduate but have changed their majors many times, I got my degree in English, later going on to develop my interest in linguistics into a master's degree.
I like helping people, and one of the things I knew I could do with my degree was teach English to speakers of other languages, so in 2009 I started teaching ESL at a large private language school. In 2012, though, I jumped on the opportunity to work at an art and design university, where I saw the problems students wanted to help people with, and the tools each major used to try to help. I helped them communicate better, and they helped me learn other ways to solve problems.
One group of students I helped was in a UX course in the Web/New Media department, and I learned to notice why so many online experiences were so frustrating, and why others were so seamless. I learned about project scope, conceptual metaphors, information architecture, prototypes, and testing. But, most importantly, I learned that this was a process that I could be a part of.
For the next two years I taught, I saw the same user-centered mindset pop up in graphic design, industrial design, and even journalism. It's a similar mindset to many teachers who plan their lessons and tailor activities to a specific audience. They provide a lot of value: they use their skill, experience, and attention to develop others (and the good ones let students develop them back). There's one thing the teacher-student (or mentor-mentee, or master-apprenctice) relationship doesn't have, though: scalability.
That's why UX. I want to help as many people as I can the most efficient way that I can by creating experiences that facilitate their achieving their goals.