“What are you going to do with your life?”
I’ve asked myself this—and have been asked by other people—so many times that, if I had a dollar for each question, I would not have to worry about anything at all. From the time I was a senior in high school, that question has made its way into my head every day.
My parents in Stiteler Auditorium.
I’ve never had a career jump out at me or fill me with endless amounts of passion like some people do. In high school, everyone around me seemed to have a plan, declaring majors and minors at their dream schools. The truth is, I never had a dream school either—I just went with the flow of senior year, applying to schools I thought looked cool (aka: one with a castle) and making sure all that financial aid stuff was complete before the deadlines.
My high school guidance counselors were no help at all. My counselor never had time to see me, and when we did meet, it was short and unproductive. She told me to declare a major before applying, as it might increase my financial aid—which I’m not too sure is true. But I took her advice, and I since I watched a lot of crime shows, I chose Criminal Justice.
Without much help from my school, I leaned on my parents, who told me they’d support me no matter what. It didn’t help much—sorry Mom and Dad, I still love you.
I also turned to friends and kind strangers for advice. Conflicting opinions prompted me to switch from Criminal Justice, to Political Science, back to Criminal Justice in just my first year of college. I ended my Spring 2019 semester with more questions than answers. On one hand, my parents and friends had reassured me that I would figure it out; on the other, I knew the longer I took, the further behind I would be. Summer courses and a gap year were not options—I wanted to be free of school in the summer, and if I could not figure it out at school with Arcadia’s wonderful staff, how could I figure it out alone, in my home?
Over the summer, my answer was revealed to me when I took a step back from everything and realized a few things: I am a first-generation college student—neither of my parents graduated from a four-year institution. It’s all of our first time. It’s okay if we don’t get it right initially. College is about discovering yourself and what you like; not knowing what your future holds is part of the experience.
I also realized everything I needed was in front of me. In scouring the ends of the Earth to find the career path that is right for me, I failed to see I had already discovered what I liked in my part-time job as a lifeguard. Teaching is a great (and essential) complement to lifeguarding. In the classroom, I can continue making a difference and helping kids become good people.
I took my ideas to Arcadia’s Department of Historical and Political Studies, where I found my new home. I now major in History and minor in Secondary Education. They’ve helped me get on this new track—and yes, I’m a little behind, but nothing too serious.
Three major changes in one year. I must look like the most indecisive college student ever, but honestly, I would not want it any other way. The more I think about my academic situation, the more I really like it. I think I’m even becoming passionate about it.