It’s crazy to think that we’re expected to know what we want to do with our lives around the age of 18. You might be sure that whatever career you choose, you want to be helping people. Maybe you love reading or math has always been your favorite subject. But when do you determine what is the most logical and enjoyable decision for you…when you have lots of passions? And how do you possibly come to that conclusion?
As an incoming freshman, I thought I knew. Right off the bat, I declared Elementary Education and English as my majors. As time went on, I found my English classes to be more interesting and my Education classes to be tedious and exhausting. I went home for winter break freshman year and a few of my family members seemed less than thrilled with my plan to become a teacher. Instead of hearing the positives, I was bombarded by the negative aspects of teaching. You won’t make enough money to support yourself. It’s tiring and an unappreciated job to have. Most teachers quit. You’re really smart and you love to write, why don’t you explore other options? After contemplating the jobs that I could eventually have with only an English major, I officially dropped my Elementary Ed major during the spring semester of freshman year. Fall of sophomore year, I took a bunch of random classes to scope out my other interests: Nonfiction Creative Writing, Media Revolutions, Acting Techniques, and American Literature. I really enjoyed Media Rev and the discussions we’d have in class. I quickly ended up declaring a minor in Media Studies; something I’m still excited about. As time went on, I missed spending time with kids and having placements in classrooms. I’m a mentor here on campus, but I felt like something in my life was missing.
This month, I was fortunate enough to attend an amazing service trip through the MOVE program to Immokalee, Florida. We spent the week building with Habitat for Humanity. Half of us were shingling an entire roof and the other half of us tiling the floor of the house. The best part of the trip for me, however, was volunteering at the local elementary school. I was placed as an aid in a kindergarten class all week and LOVED it. Most of the kids were the children of migrant workers. They were absolutely adorable and we had so much fun playing games outside during the afterschool program. The school was dual language, meaning that the younger grades are taught their lessons in both English and Spanish. I had the opportunity to teach a mini lesson to my class in Spanish—so cool! By the end of the week, I didn’t want to leave Florida. Being there definitely solidified my decision to become an educator, and I realized this: I had let other people’s opinions influence my life! When had I let that happen and why? I had to listen to myself. When you find something that makes your heart happy, truly and genuinely happy, you hang onto it and you don’t let it go.
I ended up jumping back into the Education department fairly recently, re-declaring Elementary Ed. I’m already taking a bunch of classes toward the major right now to catch up. I really feel like it’s what I’m meant to do. Maybe I went on that service trip for a reason. I know that I won’t be rich in money but I’ll be rich in experiences. I’m even thinking of teaching abroad one day! Another word of advice that I received from a friend of mine that I always try to remember is this: Your career isn’t a destination, but a never ending path. A long, ever-changing journey. Not necessarily an exact plan. You’re behind that steering wheel to get there—no one else is!