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Four Years at the Mount

Senior Year

When I Grow Up…

Jacqueline Quillen

(3/10) Around this time of year conversation typically revolves around plans for the future. During Freshman and Sophomore year people inquire about the first year experience, summer plans, and what you intend to do with your major - the usual. Junior year begins the "So senior year is coming up…" conversation starter and it starts getting a little uncomfortable, but exciting nonetheless. Now it's Senior year and the most common conversation starter is, "So you're graduating in a few months, eh?" Before responding to this uncomfortable reality I look around for open doors and windows that I can dash through. I know I'm not the only one…

No matter how depressing it is to think about, Seniors have to face it - our college experience is coming to an end in about two and a half months. It has been a little more than a month since the semester started and it feels like the first day of class was just last week. The next two months will only go by faster.

When I reflect on the past four years of my life I feel very blessed to say that I am satisfied with my college experience and have no regrets. That doesn't mean I'm ready to graduate and leave this wonderful place I have called home and all the people that have made it the most incredible experience of my life. If I could I would ask for one more time of everything - one more first day of classes, one more basketball season, one more stressful advising week to register for classes, one more move-in day, but most of all, one more dance.

The Mount has trained me well for the next direction I take on my path of life. My journey since Freshman year has been the farthest thing from consistent and focused. However, every decision I made along the way has led me to where I am today.

Freshman year I was an Elementary Education major pursuing the beginning stages of my lifetime goal to be a teacher. After one semester of education courses I decided that teaching was not right for me anymore and changed my major to Bio/Nursing. My mother was my motivation for becoming a nursing major because I admire her for her work and the effect she has on people's lives. I wanted to be a change in the world like my mother is, but nursing is her vocation, not mine. As a second semester Sophomore I changed my major to English with a minor in Communications. In the early stages of my studies of English and Communications I wanted to pursue a career in journalism. Though journalism is still something that interests me, my dreams of becoming a teacher recently resurfaced this Fall.

I highly recommend aptitude tests and the Myers-Briggs Personality test for making big decisions like what major to study and what career path to pursue. I learned how helpful these kinds of tests could actually be this past Fall when I finally tried them out for myself. I took the FOCUS assessment test, offered at the Career Center, which determines potential careers suitable for individuals based on personality, work ethic, skills, academics, and hobbies/interests. I prefer the FOCUS test because it tells you what kind of careers best suit each of the five categories separately and together. (So I could see what kind of career would best suit my academics and work ethic, or personality and skills, etc.)

When I combined all five categories to see what career best suits my whole character, FOCUS determined that I should be a Scientific Linguist. My immediate reaction was, "Huh?" However when I discovered what a Scientific Linguist does I realized how accurate the assessment test proved to be. By the way, a scientific linguist "studies language structure, sounds, vocabulary and usage to improve language teaching, measuring a person's language learning aptitude and improve accuracy of translations" (FOCUS definition). I would need specialized training to become a scientific linguist so for now, that is on the back-burner.

The majority of the results across all five categories of the assessment test indicate that teaching is in fact my calling in life. Sixteen years of school and aspirations of becoming a teacher, a pediatrician, a physical therapist, a nurse, a writer, and an astronaut (for a short time) led me right back to my original goal of being a teacher. I guess that's why they always say to go with your gut feeling.

Senior year has helped me put my goals and desires of writing and teaching in perspective with a career path. First semester I had an internship with the Career Center doing journalism work with the school the newspaper and internship bulletins. While interning at the Career Center I had the opportunity to not only explore the journalism field but also utilize the help and resources available at the Career Center. One of the last things my mother said to me when I moved in to college Freshman year was, "Make sure you go to the Career Center and find out what kind of internships and jobs are available." I always knew she was right and that I should become acquainted with the Career Center throughout my college years, but the name "Career Center" was scary enough to keep me away. I always imagined that once I step foot in the Career Center I would be a changed person forever; it was like leaving Neverland and growing up for real. Well it turns out the Career Center is actually a lovely place that does not make you grow up instantly by walking in the door. I loved the experience of journalism with my internship and definitely feel that writing needs to be a part of my life in some way.

This semester I am interning at Mother Seton School in 2nd grade and Kindergarten. Being in a classroom at Mother Seton is like calling me home to where I belong. I always knew what the word 'vocation' meant but never experienced it in my own life until I spent time in 2nd grade for the second time, only 14 years later and a few feet taller. During my days at Mother Seton I observe the classroom, grade students' work, and work individually with students on written assignments and reading. When I work with the students I feel like I am fulfilling my purpose in life just by answering a question or listening to the students read. It's an extremely powerful feeling that I'm so thankful for finding.

Since I struggled with fitting volunteer service into my regular schedule over the years, I would like to dedicate time to service and simple-living post-graduation, before settling down into a more long-term routine of a job and family in the future. Not that I'm avoiding the job market- who wouldn't want to dive into that mess of unemployment and mass of job-seeking grads? The class of 2010 will still face a competitive and struggling job market, which is why options like grad school and volunteer service are becoming more appealing to future grads. I also plan on going on to grad school to pursue a master's education program to earn the necessary certification for teaching. The direction of my path of life post-graduation is still in the making, but one thing is for sure - when I grow up, I want to teach!

Read other articles by Jacqueline Quillen