Today I attended a career awareness fair at Roxana Junior High School. I will say that I found it interesting in the fact that 8th graders were learning about occupations and the education needed to get the job. The kids learned that the basic skills they are learning today – math, science and language arts (reading, writing and communication) – are used daily in many professions.
When I was in the 8th grade I don’t remember attending anything like this and if I did I probably would have never given it much thought. I wouldn’t say I hated school, but I was not found of math or science. I had no idea what I wanted to do, other than it would be something creative.
By the time I graduated high school I had earned a scholarship in commercial art. I went a semester and realized I wasn’t ready for all the other classes too – especially the math. I waited and the next year I attempted another semester and again I didn’t feel the time was right. So instead I worked at several low paying jobs before enlisting in the Army.
Next, I got married. Then, I got divorced. So, I went back to college.
This time it fit. I knew I was ready. Maybe because I was now a single parent and I wanted to provide more for my son. I wanted to show him that education was important. So on his first day of school I started my first day at Lewis and Clark Community College. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I knew I needed my education.
I took a class on media and BAM! I knew what career path I wanted. Although media encompasses quite a bit, at least I was moving in the right direction. After graduating from LCCC I then went to Southern Illinois University Edwardsville and majored in mass communication. I planned on taking public relations, but when all the classes were full I took a writing class that somehow changed the direction I wanted to go in again. It was then that I realized I liked journalism and reporting.
I guess if someone would have told me how much math, or sometime science, I would be doing in my job, I would have thought they were crazy. I use math on stories all the time, especially when it comes to figuring out percentages or crunching numbers in a municipal budget, or even putting statistics together. Most people don’t think reporters do anything more than write, but we have to know a little about a lot, or at least be willing to learn it.
So I want to say to any student who doesn’t quite know what they want to do that it’s alright. However, you do need the basic educational skills for nearly every job, even the ones you may consider menial. If you don’t have someone if your life who encourages you to be your best, there are mentors in schools, churches and other organizations who will. The future holds a lot of possibilities and you have to know how to grab hold of it.