Part 2A: How I ended up following in my parents footsteps and pursuing a career in education despite my foolproof plan to go to law school and eventually become a judge.
In sitting down to write Part 2 of ‘The Story of how I WAS NOT going to follow in my parents footsteps by pursuing a career in education, and instead go to law school to eventually become a judge’ I realized that this is a longer story than I had originally anticipated. So, I have divided Part 2 into two parts. If you have not read Part 1, I would recommend reading that first. http://wp.me/p1ZHOE-1O
Part 2A- The Journey Begins…
I didn’t last very long at the job at the law library. The would-be ‘moon colonizer’ turned into a bit of a stalker and I ended up calling a friend or a Public Safety officer to walk me home on more than one occasion. I had also become a little self-conscious about my “good for carrying babies” hips. Surely, I had better things to do with my Friday nights.
For example, I had a whole new career path to map out (Okay, so maybe I wasn’t doing that on Friday nights, per say.). I had come to American University to major in American Studies, in order to pursue a career in the American legal system. (Just call me your all American girl.) Now I was second guessing at least one part of that equation. What to do?
You may not believe me but employers are not fighting over American Studies graduates. Most of the folks that I know who majored in American Studies became teachers or went on to graduate school (most often law school). Despite this, I did not want to change my major. Perhaps to make up for the poor job prospects after graduation, American Studies majors got to take really cool classes. While my friends were taking Microeconomics, World Politics, and Statistics, I was taking:
- Contemporary American Culture – Television (my final paper was about ‘The Animaniacs.’)
- Food & Culture (In this class we sampled everything from bagels and lox to kimchi)
- American Decades- The 1980’s (One of our assignments was to visit two shopping malls- one geared towards higher income shoppers and one geared towards lower income shoppers and compare and contrast.)
I also took a class called “Southern Traditions”. We spent part of the class talking about Appalachia (particularly Kentucky, Tennessee, and Western North Carolina) – a region for which I had no first-hand knowledge. I had never even been to “the South” (I was pretty sure that vacations to Disney World did not count.) It occurred to me while taking this class that I actually had very little first-hand knowledge of any U.S. region outside the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic where I had grown up.
Between my fairly liberal NY upbringing, and my AU student experience, I thought I had seen just about everything. My residence hall had a co-ed bathroom on our all girls floor as to not inconvenience overnight guests of the opposite sex , on its best day our “dry” campus was pretty damp, and my constitutional law professor walked into class one day and opened his lecture by saying, “While I was driving into campus today, I was thinking about pornography.” (He was thinking about it as it relates to freedom of speech, but still.)
There were all kinds of policies governing student behavior on the books at AU, but for the most part, I would say that students preferred to govern themselves (or let anarchy prevail). Through my RA job I gained insight into the hidden talents of my fellow classmates such as closet “gardening”, chemical explosives, reptile care, misappropriation of University funds, and home improvement (i.e. how to remove ceiling tiles in order to hide various (prohibited) items in the ceiling.).
So while I was not leading a totally sheltered life, I did realize, through my class work, that I had not seen as much as I thought I had. Some of my friends were studying abroad as part of their International Studies major. What I needed was a domestic study program that would let me go beyond the text books and class lectures and really experience another part of America. But did such a thing exist?
With help from my faculty advisor, I discovered ‘The Appalachian Semester Program’- a domestic study program at a small college in Southeastern Kentucky. Program participants lived on campus and took classes in sociology, economics, and political science all pertaining to the Appalachian region. Each student also participated in a local internship, and chose a research topic to pursue while there. I got permission to use the Appalachian Semester program credits toward graduation and made plans to spend the first semester of my senior year away from everything and everyone I knew.
So what happens when a nice Jewish girl from Long Island, NY finds herself in rural, conservative, Southeastern Kentucky? Stay tuned for Part 2B and find out how The Appalachian Semester program raised my level of consciousness, expanded my world view, and (finally) led me to follow in my parents footsteps and pursue a career in the field of education (not to mention learn to quilt, weave, clog dance, and log roll).