In the wise words of Billy Madison, I’m going “Back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool.”

We all make choices on a daily basis — big ones, small ones, bad ones, good ones. I’ve recently made an important one (for me) — to go back to school this fall.

I studied Communication at Merrimack and always thought that I would end up in public relations or marketing. However, since I knew I wanted to give back to the community, I decided to join the Augustinian Volunteer Program after graduation. I was placed in a happy and vibrant Pre-K classroom on the south side of Chicago as a teacher’s aide for a year. This experience — and the children in my class — taught me more than I ever imagined. Most importantly, they opened my eyes to what teaching really is.

My Chicago buddies

My Chicago buddies

On the day of my Pre-K class’ graduation, I received the best gift I could have ever asked for — a beautiful and encouraging letter from one of my student’s mothers.

In a section of the letter it said,

“I have met a lot of teachers since I have four children, but you broke the mold and set the bar. This is definitely your calling. This one year has changed my household. I take more joy in my children. It’s sad and great to say — it’s because my daughter met a teacher who inspired her, and she came home to inspire us. She’s five — more confident, much more verbal, and a heck of a lot wiser!”

I will be forever grateful to this student’s mother and for my experience in Chicago. Even after three years when I think about happiness, I think back to my time in that special Pre-K classroom and these touching words.

What took me so long to figure all of this out?

For one — what the heck did I know when I was going into college? It’s kind of crazy to me that people expect you to choose your major in college — basically ask you what you want to do with the rest of your life — at the ripe old age of 18! When I was in college I was probably more concerned with friends and fun, rather than papers and projects. Don’t get me wrong, I was definitely worried about choosing a major and doing well in class. But I really don’t think I was mature enough to take any of it as seriously as it should have been taken (given how much my parents helped me, and how much I pay in loans each month).

That being said, I always knew that if I was going to go back to school one day I wanted to be pretty damn close to 100% sure of what I was going back for — and it takes time to figure this out. I envy people who knew what they wanted to do as soon as they popped out of the womb, but for most people this isn’t the case. I wanted to make sure I put a lot of thought into my next step in life. Maybe I’ve matured a little…

To be honest, I don’t think I was ready to teach right after my volunteer year; I needed to give marketing a chance. I knew if I didn’t I’d probably always wonder “what if?“. I never did an internship in college (probably should have), so I truly didn’t know whether I would like it or not. And it’s not even that I just didn’t ‘like’ it, (I liked some aspects of it — for example, I will always love social media!) it just hasn’t been fulfilling for me, and I crave that I guess.

Even though I’ve realized that marketing doesn’t seem to be the right fit for me, I’m happy for the time I’ve spent in the field. I’m more organized, detail-oriented, confident, and maybe a little more analytical (key word, maybe). I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and have truly gained an immeasurable amount of experience.

This year I am participating in the Fellowship grad program at Merrimack College — going back to my undergrad roots! I will be teaching in a school during the day, and taking classes after school a couple of evenings a week. In May, I will (hopefully!) be graduating with my masters in Early Childhood Education / Special Education.

Funny thing is, this May my sister Molly will be graduating from Merrimack (undergrad) as well! And that’s not all — so will our cousin, and Molly’s boyfriend. We will have to have quite the celebration. :)

It may have taken me a few years, but I finally trust and believe the words my student’s mother wrote me. I’m ready for my next adventure!

17 thoughts on “In the wise words of Billy Madison, I’m going “Back to school, back to school, to prove to Dad that I’m not a fool.”

  1. This is fantastic! It took me a couple years after graduating college to figure out what I actually wanted as well. I ended up going back to school for Massage Therapy and I couldn’t be happier with the decision. Good luck!!!

    • Thank you so much!! I appreciate it! And that’s good to hear. I think it’s really difficult to take the plunge and go back to school, but hopefully in May I will know that it paid off. Thanks for the encouragement!

  2. YAY!! I love that it’s out in the open now. :) You will do wonderful in school, and in your new career – there’s no doubt in my mind. Congrats to you, and enjoy this exciting new time in your life!

  3. YAY MISS COLLEEN! Ms Gunn will be SO proud! :) Congrats!!!

    If you need to talk teaching let me know! Happy to help! :) xoxo

  4. Wahoo to finding your passion! It took me 3 years after graduating to decide I wanted to go into social work. But it’s worth the wait once you find what it is you love. Best of luck, can’t wait to hear how it all goes :) xo

  5. It’s so exciting to figure out what you want to do, and also challenging then to make the next step and do it. It’s exciting you’re already on your way to making it happen. Good luck!

  6. All my life I always worked. I’ve had several jobs that I thoroughly enjoyed. But none compared to The Fire Service. Everyday that I go to work, I impact someone’s life in a positive way. The daily encounters rarely start off well. However once my crew and I arrive on scene, whether it be a fire, car wreck or mostly medical calls we do everything that our training allows us to do to alleviate their pain and suffering. My point is…..I got into the Fire Service quite by accident. It was something to do and a way to meet new people when I moved to a new area of the country. But it was always a dream of mine to be a “Fireman”. Always follow your dreams, while remaining grounded to whatever you need to do to pay the bills. Most teaching jobs don’t pay alot in monetary wages, but the rewards you will receive from seeing those children’s minds grow will be reward enough. (besides, you can use your marketing experience to run all those school fundraisers). GIP

  7. Congrats, Colleen! It’s so hard finding the right path – you will be a GREAT teacher! I’m going back to the ‘Mack in the fall myself…Master of Science in Management haha Merrimackers for life :) good luck, maybe i’ll see you around for evening classes.

  8. You know, Colleen, at the age of 71 I still don’t know what I want to do with the rest of my life. There really are too many choices. I am a retired educator.

    You will find that being a teacher, a very good teacher, will allow you do what you wish. That particular skill is the most important one you will ever have. Enjoy the journey. It is a lot of fun!

    b

    http://www.retireinstyleblog.com

    • Thank you so much for your comment! I am very excited to embark on this journey, and somehow I feel it will not be the last in terms of what I’ll do for a living. There are so many different things to learn!

      I really appreciate you stopping by. Will have to visit your blog. Love the name of it!

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