I should be saying goodbye

Posted by in Life

I really should be saying goodbye to all my friends.  This is my fourth year at Southern Adventist University.  That wasn’t God’s plan, though.

I arrived on campus with braces, short hair, and 17 short years of life experience.  I was excited to be going to Southern.  I had applied to Union, Andrews, and Southern.  Andrews would have been the least expensive (not kidding, their merit-based scholarships rock), Union would have been the least helpful (they don’t have any programs I was interested in), but Southern seemed a perfect fit.  I began with a double major in business administration (entrepreneurship) and mass communication (media production).  I wanted to start a recording studio.  I knew it would be difficult, that I wouldn’t make any money, and that it would take five years to graduate, but I was willing to go all-in.

I hated it.  I hated every second of every class.  Well, there were a couple classes that were okay, and one or two that were actually enjoyable, but I hated everything else.  I hated business classes such as accounting and economics.  I hated all the classes in journalism.  I also wasn’t a great news writer.  I was getting horrible grades.  Everybody told me it would get better.  I would enjoy the next semester of business classes.  I would get to take digital audio production.  Well, I hated the next semester of business classes.  And digital audio production was only about radio journalism.  I realized that I was not getting anywhere near my dream of music recording.

Meanwhile, I decided I needed a better job.  I was working at the library, but it wasn’t something I was thrilled about.  So I asked a friend of mine about a job at the EdTech lab in the School of Education and Psychology.  It’s a computer lab with 24 computers for students to use.  A class called “technology in education” is taught there, and students learn how to make simple websites, edit video, use Microsoft Office, and more.  I always had a lot of interest in computers and had done a lot with them.

The first time I applied, I didn’t get the job.  I was offered the job, but only if I could work certain hours (which were right in the middle of all my classes).  But the next semester, Rob (the guy who ran the lab) mentioned that he needed workers again and asked for my schedule.  I started working at the lab.

I was working good hours for the school year, but I wanted to stick around for the summer.  I had gone home the first summer, but it was hard to find a decent job that could pay enough to make up for the fact that I had to drive half an hour to work every day.  I could get several hours at the lab, but I needed to get about 40 hours a week to make it worthwhile.  I had heard about job openings at the radio station on campus, WSMC.  I looked at the job descriptions, and there was one for producers.  Producers would record and edit concerts in the area.  I was thrilled.  This was what I wanted to do.  I immediately applied.  Unfortunately, they only had openings for announcers.  I decided to try for that.  I got the job.  I couldn’t pronounce Russian composers’ names for anything, but I loved classical music and had been in choir for some time now.  I began training immediately.

About halfway through the summer, one of the producers left, so I cross-trained and became a producer.

I was really discouraged in school.  I couldn’t enjoy anything.  In fact, I was failing several classes.  I dropped as many classes as I could and still keep federal funding, then only went to my general classes.  I talked to all my other teachers and told them I was dropping my majors and going into something else.  Computing.

My parents were thrilled.  They had always thought I should be majoring in computing.  I was the go-to tech person for my family.  I was constantly building computers out of spare parts.  I already had a few websites I was experimenting with.  I wrote little bits of code here and there for fun.  And it makes money.

I decided I needed a minor.  I technically don’t need a minor.  I am getting a bachelor of science degree.  I still wanted something to complement my computer degree, or something to break up the monotony of technical classes.  I chose music.  I love music.  I live for music.  I have been in I Cantori (the premiere choir at Southern) since my freshman year.  I worked at the classical radio station.  I skipped all of the Thursday convocations but still got enough credits every semester because of all the concerts I attended.  So I began taking music classes.

Rob eventually needed to graduate and get a “real” job, so he got an internship.  He couldn’t handle everything at the EdTech lab anymore, so he cut his hours there drastically and made me an assistant manager.  I began to take over his duties whenever he couldn’t be around.  I was actually the second-most-senior member of the team.  I don’t know how that worked out.  I had only been there about a year.  I was thrilled with the opportunity.

Things were interesting at the radio station.  I was an announcer and producer, meaning I was a go-to person for just about anything.  If somebody needed a substitute, I could fill in for anybody.  If there was a concert to record, I could do it.  It makes for good job security, but my hours between the station and the lab were filling up.  I was working 20 to 30 hours a week.

Rob graduated.  I got hired as the lab manager.  The head of productions at the radio station graduated.  I took over his responsibilities.  I had become the most senior member of the productions team a while before, so I had the most experience.  Unfortunately, my new responsibilities didn’t come with a new title or a raise, but it was still something I enjoyed.  But it’s hard to keep up with that much responsibility while taking a full class load, no matter how much I enjoy it.  I had to quit one of my jobs.  I decided that it would have to be the station.  They didn’t pay as well, and it was not as applicable to my future career as the lab was.  I will miss it.

A couple of days after I gave my two weeks notice at the radio station, I was called in to see the interim dean of the School of Education and Psychology.  She talked with me a bit about my plans for the future.  I had mentioned to her before that I had thought a lot about teaching.  I loved what I did at the EdTech lab, helping teach a class and helping teachers and students with computer problems.  I didn’t know what exactly I would be doing, but I knew that I be around for at least 5.5 years.  Switching majors will do that to you.  So I would be around the lab for a while longer.  Then she made an offer that just about made me pass out.  She asked if I would be interested in being a graduate assistant and getting a master’s degree in education.  After finishing my bachelor’s degree in computing, they would make me the director of technology for Education and Psychology and I would be more involved in the big picture of the school.  Of course, I was interested!  I had already contemplated it.  I had basically decided I couldn’t because of finances.  Just getting a bachelor’s degree is costly enough.  This was huge.

Now, it’s important to note that it isn’t official.  It really can’t be official until I actually have my bachelor’s degree.  Things could change.  But I have to say that God has really been guiding my life to this place.  Even though it’s discouraging to think I’ve already been here four years and I’m only barely past halfway done, I know that I have a future planned out for me, and I’m going to love it.  I love my computer classes now.  I love my music classes.  I’m actually good at what I’m doing now.  And I can clearly see what God has done and is doing.  And don’t be surprised if in ten years I’m still at Southern.  I love it here.  I want to teach at a secondary or tertiary (high school or college) level.

Half the reason I wrote this is so that I can come back and read this if I ever begin to get discouraged.  Perhaps it can help you.  I hated what I was doing and I couldn’t see an end.  If that’s how you feel, just remember that one day God will show you his plan, and you’re going to love it, even if it involves seven years of college.