When I was a junior in high school, I figured out exactly what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I would attend Seton Hall University for its Speech Pathology 4+2 Program, graduate with three degrees in speech pathology, elementary and special education and English, and I would become a speech language pathologist. I would always have a job, I would save the self-esteem and speech of thousands of children, and I would write the next best-selling novel on the side.
I eventually learned that was not to be the plan.
When I decided I would be a speech pathologist I do not remember. Why exactly I decided to be a speech pathologist I can conjure my reasoning, (stability, helping people, good money, etc.). Yet, when I received my acceptance letter from Seton Hall in the fall of my senior year and Speech Pathology 4+2 Program Class of 2019 was next to my name, something told me I was lying to myself.
My first internship was in a second grade classroom, and I was required to shadow a speech pathologist for a few weeks. In both settings, I felt as if I did not belong. I asked the second graders what the meaning of the rain was in the picture book I read them and I could not think of questions to ask the speech pathologist.
I constantly felt like I was fighting a battle between what I wanted to do and what I should do. I wanted to talk to the students about what they were reading on a deep level and I wanted to write pieces of my own.
One of my friends asked me if I could see myself with older kids, as a secondary English teacher. I looked at her as if she were insane. Somehow though, I didn’t think she was wrong; I just was afraid to deviate from my plan, (it had seemed like a logical one, after all).
Yet, at the end of that semester, I found myself bringing a form to the Registrar’s Office that declared my major as English and Secondary and Special Education. I have never looked back.
The biggest lesson I have learned throughout these emotional, uncomfortable, incredible four years is to listen to your gut. If something is telling you that you’re making the wrong decision, you probably are.
Do everything you can to find out what you feel passionate about. Research careers, shadow peopl and talk to your friends and family. You have one life to live and you should make it worthwhile.
I cannot say I know exactly where my path will lead for the next 50 years as I hoped I would when I was a freshman, but does anyone? Things change, people change. We are not in the control we want to be in. One aspect you can control, however, is what you decide to study, and considering how quickly these years have gone, I am happy with my decision.
Kaitlyn Quinn is an English and secondary and special education major from Bayonne, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.