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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Gustavus chapter.

When I got home from school as a little girl, I’d sit at the kitchen table for a snack, tell my mom about my day, and then rush down to the basement to play my favorite game: school.

My “classroom” was the concrete storage room where our furnace and water-heater resided. To liven the space up, I used all my birthday and Christmas wish-lists to ask for classroom supplies. By the time I was in third or fourth grade, the cold, damp storage room had a chalkboard, wooden desk, and old books donated by my elementary school teachers.

Being one out of four children, I always had siblings to act as my students (shout-out to my little brothers for humoring me). While playing school, I required them to take notes on my lessons, do homework, and call me Ms.Topanga (if you’re a 90s kid, you’ll understand).

Ever since those early days of playing school I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. When I started college I signed up for the education major prerequisite classes to keep me on track with my career goal. In one of my prerequisite courses we read a book about the Little Rock Nine, spending a few weeks discussing the deeply embedded inequalities within America’s education system. I felt so passionate about the topic and after the unit ended I had a moment of realization; I enjoyed learning about social inequalities within the education system more than I liked learning about education itself. Suddenly I felt uncertain about the direction of my college years–did I want to pursue education, or pursue a major that allowed me to further explore this newly-lit fire within me?

I struggled with this question throughout the year, unable to make a decision. Then, one day while walking to lunch, I noticed an event going on in our campus center. Curious, I diverted from my original path and headed into the busy room, which turned out to be a career fair. I walked around for a few moments, feeling out of place. Most of the tables had representatives from tech companies and banks, which were not in my area of interest. I started making my way out of the room when I noticed a young woman wearing a bright polka-dot dress. She had a huge smile on her face and stood next to a yellow sign with the words “Teach for America” in big letters. She told me that her organization recruited leaders from all majors and professions and trained them be teachers with the mission to provide every child in America an equal opportunity to receive an excellent education. Suddenly, all of my questions and anxieties about declaring a major vanished. I didn’t have to do a traditional education program to become a teacher; I could join Teach for America.

Over the next few years I pursued a degree in communication studies, and I am so glad that I did. Through this incredible department I was able to pursue a wide range of topics that interested me, and I was pushed to be a better student, a better citizen, and a better human. I developed strong relationships with my professors, and I will forever be grateful for the time and knowledge they’ve shared with me. Throughout my studies in communication my eyes have been opened to new and exciting career paths like campaign management, political speech writing, and non-profit leadership. While these career paths are all still in the running, I couldn’t be more excited for my immediate post-graduation plans: I am moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma to teach Early Childhood Education as a 2018 Teach for America Corps Member.

Some people ask me why I didn’t just major in education, since that’s the field I’ll be working in for the next 2+ years. The answer, for me, is simple. First, a traditional education program was not the path for me. I didn’t want to spend half of my college years taking classes in geography and technology. Rather, I wanted to learn as much as I could about the inequalities and injustices this country faces, and how to communicate effectively about these issues in order to create meaningful change. My degree in communication studies allowed me to pursue my passions in a way that a degree in education couldn’t, and I truly believe that I will be a better teacher because of it.

Second, while I respect traditional education programs and the teachers who come out of those programs, Teach for America does work that traditional programs don’t do. Teach For America dedicates all of its resources to the kids who are not given the same opportunities or quality of education due to the color of their skin or the income of their parents. The organization is dedicated to serving these specific communities so that one day all kids will have an equal opportunity for an excellent education. This mission resonates with me to my core and it is something I will continue to pursue after my two years of service.

Here’s to the next chapter and everything it brings. To the woman in the polka-dot dress – thank you for giving me the help and clarity I needed to create a life I love and to pursue a future that gives me so much hope.

President of Her Campus at Gustavus Senior Communication Studies 2018 TFA Corp Member Collegiate Fellow HGTV enthusiast