Like most incoming college freshmen, my college experience started with a feeling of panic as I thought to myself, “I’m 18 years old and have to pick what I want to do for the next 40-50 years. How am I supposed to know what I want to do with the rest of my life?” Everyone told me not to worry, that it’s going to be okay, and that tons of other people my age don’t know what they want to do either.
Well … that didn’t help. I still felt singled out.
Here I am today, a college student at Niagara University! I chose Niagara University, not only because of my obsession with the color purple, but because of its Academic Exploration Program that was created for students just like me. With this program, I didn’t have to pick a major right away and I could enroll in many different kinds of classes in order to find something that interests me. At the time, I thought I would be in this program forever and I thought that I would never truly know what I wanted to do. Well … imagine my surprise when I started my next year of school with a specific major in Niagara University’s College of Education!
I have always been interested in working with kids. I babysat over the years and coached very young kids ice skating during my time in high school as well. What truly helped me make that definite decision, though, was one of my education professors, Dr. Sheira, within my first semester of the program. He was someone who was very realistic and was very honest with my class. Although the world around me seemed to be screaming, “Don’t become a teacher!” he made my class see the value that teaching brings to a community. Dr. Sheira made my class laugh while we all reflected on the silly experiences that each of us had while growing up in school. Most importantly, I felt like my opinion and my own life experiences mattered and were heard. Dr. Sheira cared about the things we had to say and how it all related to the field of education. I felt like he genuinely wanted all of us to succeed and I knew that he believed that we could.
About halfway through the semester, I took a step back and asked myself why I hadn’t experienced a teacher like this more often going through all my years of school. That was when I made my decision. Even though it might be difficult for me to find a job after graduation, and despite all other obstacles that might come my way, I am confident that if I can impact a student the way that Dr. Sheira has impacted me, it will make everything worth it in the end!