Show and Tell Tuesday: When I Grow Up

Linking up with Andrea at Momfessionals again today for another edition of Show and Tell Tuesday.  The topic today is: When I Grow Up which means I'm sharing what, as a child, I thought I wanted to be when I grew up.  Believe it or not, I haven't always wanted to be a teacher.  It wasn't even something I considered until about halfway through college.  Here's my story and how I ended up where I am today!

When I was younger (5ish?), I had to get allergy shots once per month.  I hated them, but I remember one particular nurse (Nancy) that always made me feel better about them.  She was the nicest lady with the sweetest demeanor.  I looked forward to my appointments with Nancy and was disappointed whenever it was another nurse who called my name.  Don't get me wrong, the other nurses were nice, but none as great as Nancy.

I decided right then and there that I wanted to be a nurse so that I could be just like Nancy.  I believe this went on for many years, even after I stopped getting allergy shots, as I don't remember having strong feelings about any other career or job.

Come middle school, I still wanted to be a nurse, but more specifically, I wanted to be a nurse on a pediatrics floor of a hospital.  I'm pretty sure that that idea stemmed from the multiple Lurlene McDaniel books I read on a regular basis back then.  (They were always about an adolescent with a terminal disease.  Anyone else read those??)

A few years later, I decided I really didn't like the thought of blood, so naturally, nursing was out.

By early high school, I had chosen a new career path.  I decided I'd like to become a high school guidance counselor.  Like nursing, it was a career all about helping others (minus the blood thing) and since being in public schools was about the only thing I knew at that point, it just made sense.

I got my first job the summer before my junior year of high school.  I worked as a cashier in a local drug store.  Then, during my junior year of high school, I took (and loved and excelled in) chemistry.  Around that same time, I was moved into the pharmacy at the drug store and worked my part time job as a pharmacy technician.  I loved every minute of it and it all became very clear to me - I would become a pharmacist.  At the time, there was a huge shortage of pharmacists.  Because of the shortage, many pharmacists were able to pick and choose their own hours, which made it a very famiy-friendly career.  Pair that with a large, often-six-figure salary and a sign-on bonus that many received upon graduating from college and it was too good to be true.  Not to mention, it required only six years of college, which was way fewer than most careers in the medical field.

I continued to work in the pharmacy--learning all I could at the young age I was.  I even made it a goal to memorize one generic name of a brand name drug every week!  I was well on my way to becoming a pharmacist.  Scratch that.  A rich pharmacist. ;)

I pursued that idea well into college.  I started at the University of Iowa as a pre-pharmary major.  (Which, by the way, I knew I wanted to attend Iowa long before deciding on pharmacy.  They just so happened to have a nationally ranked pharmacy school and one of only two pharmacy schools in the state...clearly it was meant to be.)  Pharmacy majors had two pretty intensive years of prerequisites and, with the exception of one rhetoric class, they didn't have room in their schedules (therefore require) any additional gen eds.  As do all pre-pharm majors, I applied to the College of Pharmacy a year and a half into my schooling.  I also started working at the OscoDrug (later bought out by CVS) on campus around that same time.  

However, the pharmacist shortage was no secret.  If I'm remembering correctly, the number of applicants tripled the year I applied.  So while it was always a semi-competitive school to get into, it become ultra competitive that year.  Unfortunately for me, that meant a big fat letter of rejection.  Which was a hard pill to swallow (no pun intended) after being so successful and near the top of my graduating class in high school.  Initially, I planned to retake a biology class I hadn't done so well in and re-apply the following year, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized I hated biology and I didn't know if I could continue along that same path for four more years.

In the middle of my junior year, I declared my major as undecided.  That was definitely strange after being so certain of my future as a pharmacist.  Oh, and remember all those gen eds I never had to take as a pre-pharmacy major?  Yep, I basically had to start from square one.  (Which is why I went to college for 5.5 years!)

Anyway, I then had to figure out what to do with my life.  As always, I knew I wanted a job helping others.  I had also always loved math (hello that's why I loved chemistry), so being a math teacher made perfect sense!  I considered a few other math-related options (an actuary, for instance, which has a salary similar to a pharmacist), but I just couldn't see myself working a desk job all day every day for the rest of my life.  I started volunteering my time in a local middle school math classroom and never looked back :)

I applied to the College of Education in 2004 (I think?).  This time, the results were much happier - an acceptance letter!  I took all of the math classes, all of the education classes, completed a semester's worth of practicum and another semester's worth of student teaching, and finally graduated in 2006 with a BA in mathematics and a teaching endorsement for grades 6-12.

I have spent the last eight years teaching my love of math to mostly pessimistic 9th, 10th, 11th, and 12th graders.  Despite their attitudes about math, I really do love my job.

People have asked if I have regrets about not pursuing my {then} dream of becoming a pharmacist more than I did.  After all, I pretty much gave up after one round of rejection.  But no, I have absolutely no regrets.  After working at Osco/CVS and impressing the powers that be, I was told multiple times that they could pull some strings to ensure I was accepted into the College of Pharmacy.  But turn them down, I did!  Sure, I would have made a heck of a lot more money than I do as a teacher, but money doesn't buy happiness and I can't imagine working a pharmacist's schedule (nights, weekends, holidays) while also raising kids.  I am a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and I believe I am doing exactly what I was meant to do with my life by teaching the youth of America.

A few years into my teaching career, I decided to go back and get my master's degree.  I could have easily pursued my earlier wish of becoming a guidance counselor, but I was content as a teacher and didn't foresee myself doing anything else within the school system.  So that was that.  I received my master's in education in 2012, which got me a nice little pay raise as a teacher. ;)

Now, if I'm being completely honest, I'd be lying if I said I've never once considered leaving the profession.  If teaching were truly about teaching, it'd be great.  But unfortunately, in this day and age there are multiple other factors that get in the way and I don't always agree with all that is asked of me.  Craig thinks I'd be perfect for a position in the business world that involves teaching peers about software (or whatever it is the company sells).  I don't deny that, and sometimes I let my mind wonder about venturing out into that world, but that's as far as I've ever gotten.  Because let's be honest, I'm not ready to give up my summers off and since I really do love being a positive influence and sharing my passion for math, I'll stay put for now!

That is how I ended up a high school math teacher!


Linking up with Momfessionals blog.

1 comment:

  1. What a wonderful turn of events in your life! So glad you found your calling. I'd like to go back and eventually become a counselor...some day. :)