Teaching Is My Dream, Quit Telling Me To 'Aim Higher'

Teaching Is My Dream, Quit Telling Me To Aim Higher

It's not a job; it's a passion.

"What are your plans after college?"
"I'm going to be a high school English teacher."
"Oh, really? That's it?"

It sounds blunt, but I have had this conversation more times than I can count. Don't worry; I am not offended by the comment. In fact, I would have said the same thing a few years ago.

So why teaching?

I think my case will be best explained by telling you why I am on the path that I am.

I first began to consider a career in education in my junior year of high school. I had a phenomenal group of teachers that year, all of whom loved what they taught and loved their students even more. Classes were filled with rants on how bad the "Gatsby" characters really were, quick recaps of what had gone down at the game the night before, and the kind of mentorship only the most caring of teachers can truly offer.

They made teaching look easy. It was not a job they had just taken because nothing else was available. No, it was something they loved doing, something they had sacrificed higher-pay, adult interaction, and the lack of chaos to pursue. Along the way, I found I related to their excitement.

Since elementary school, I have had an incredible love for all things literature. I have a red pen on me at all times to correct any mistakes I find throughout my day, whether it be in a textbook or on a flyer. My bookshelf at home is overflowing to the point where half of my collection is split into stacks on the floor. Long story short: I just love English!

This is where you say, "So why don't you become a writer or a professor?"

Well, *takes a sip of tea* I'm glad you asked. Writing is a lonely job filled with constant critique. Being a creator for Odyssey has opened my eyes to this. If your work is not popular, then it might as well not exist. And where is the writing done? Let's take a look at where I am typing up this article.

Natalie Austin

Sure, my roommate is at the desk behind me (and giving me weird looks for taking a random picture of my desk,) but there is no real interaction here. There is no hum of conversation or creative brainstorming taking place in the background (you know, like they show in every movie about any journalist ever.) Instead, I am in my tiny dorm, trying to block out the rap music coming from the room next door, and attempting to ignore the weird smell wafting in from the hallway. Glamorous, right?

As for the professor job, do you realize what a career like that requires? You don't just lecture at a few classes of students and get six-digits thrown at you. Joining the faculty of a university comes with the expectations of published work, mentorship of students, and on-going research. Summers off? Yeah, right. When do you think the bulk of the research is done?

So let's revisit the job of a high school teacher. It is far from all sunshine and roses, but it is filled with people and the hope of a better tomorrow. And if you really think about it, don't you agree people should be treated as one of our greatest investments?

My eleventh-grade teachers did.

And so God led me to where I am today. The dreams I thought I had of being a powerful businesswoman or unshakable attorney were nothing compared to the excitement I now feel as a future educator.

I have physical dreams of being in a classroom. My free time is filled with ideas of how to relate crusty old literature to a group of fourteen-year-olds. I watch movies like "Dead Poets' Society" and "Mona Lisa Smile" numerous times as I wait for the day when that will be me. And I physically cannot help myself from smiling when I set foot in a classroom.

I realize the students will not love literature as I do. I realize they will refuse to learn the curriculum placed in front of them. I realize I will be criticized and belittled on a daily basis. I realize they may hate me.

These thoughts do not scare me, or tempt me to run away.

Instead, they push me to try harder.

No matter how many eye rolls and complaints the students bless me with, I will continue to smile and ask them how they are doing. A lot of people underestimate how much of an impact that one little question has.

Want to see a change in the future? Try starting with the teenagers who will one day step into Congress, med school, or a classroom such as me. More importantly, focus on the ones who don't want any of that. We need brick masons just as much as we need another engineer. It's time to start acting like it.

So to answer your question: yes, I do really want to be a high school English teacher. Roll your eyes. Make a comment. Talk up your more challenging degree.

If you need me, I'll be in the classroom, talking books and solving problems with the future of America.

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8 Things To Know About The 911 Dispatcher In Your Life

In honor of National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week


For the first 18 years of my life, all I knew about 911 dispatchers was that they were the voice that came after the tone, from inside the pager on my dad's hip. The voice telling him where to go and for what. I had no idea after I turned 19 that I would soon become one of those voices. National Public Safety Telecommunicators Week this year is the week of April 14th-20th. I felt it appropriate to write my article this week focused on that, considering it is such a huge part of my life. For the rest of the world, it is just another week. For us, this is the one week out of the whole year that the focus is on the dispatcher, the one week where we don't feel so self-absorbed about saying what we do is nothing short of heroic. Here are some important things to know about the 911 dispatcher in your life.

1. We worry about you constantly

My biggest fear in this job is picking up the phone and hearing my loved one on the other end. No matter what the circumstance. The map zooms to the area of the county where my family and I reside, and my heart always sinks. I get a giant pit in my stomach because the very real reality is it may be someone I know and love. Don't be annoyed when we call you twice in one day or overly remind you to be safe. We are just always worried about our loved ones.

2. Our attention spans can be short

We are trained to get the pertinent information and details all within a matter of seconds. I can't speak for everyone on this, but I struggle a lot with paying attention when someone is talking to me, please forgive me if it feels as though I've stopped listening after a few minutes. I probably have. I've noticed that I listen very intently to the first couple minutes of a conversation and then my mind trails off. Nothing personal, just habit.

3. We have great hearing and multitasking skills

Most of us anyways. We can hear the person on the phone, the officer on one radio channel and the firefighter on the other, all at once. I have found that this skill comes in handy when trying to eavesdrop, also not as handy when you go out to dinner and can hear all five conversations going on around you. I have yet to master shutting that off when I am not at work.

4. We are hilarious

It could be a combination of using humor to deal with bad situations and spending twelve hours at a time in a little room together. But I think it’s that we are just freaking hilarious, nothing else to it. If you go the whole 12 hours without laughing, you're doing something wrong.

5. We have a very complicated love-hate relationship with our jobs

I love what I do, and I truly believe I was meant to put on that headset. Everything happens for a reason and my education plans out of high school didn't work out because I was supposed to be here doing this instead. I love what I do. I hate it sometimes too though. I remember specifically once taking a phone call about an hour before my shift was done. As soon as I got into my vehicle to go home, I bawled my eyes out and swore to myself that I was never stepping back into a comm center again. I hated my job with a burning passion that day. My next scheduled shift, I went back to work because I love it too. See, it doesn't even make sense it's just complicated.

6. We are tired

Believe it or not, this career can be incredibly exhausting. Someone once told me "You just sit at a desk for twelve hours, that can't be that hard." Physically that's right, we just sit there. Mentally and emotionally the first phone call of the shift can drain you and then you still have a little over 11 hours to go. I won't go into details on that but trust us when we say it was a bad call. We are tired. Some of my days off I just sleep all day not because I'm physically exhausted but because my mind needs that much time to recharge.

7. We are crazy

I really have nothing more to say other than no sane person would be a 911 dispatcher. We are all a little 10-96 in the best way possible.

8. We love harder than most

We love strangers we have never met, we love our officers that piss us off daily over the radio (we piss them off too) and we love our co-workers that drive us nuts sometimes. It takes someone incredibly strong to save a life through the phone and someone even stronger to go back after they didn't. With that strength comes a weakness of vulnerability, we know our hearts will break more often than others, and we still continue to put on that headset to help others. The people with the biggest hearts work in a dispatch center. If you are lucky enough to be loved by one don't take them for granted.

The list could go on and on. Dispatchers possess so many skills and qualities that most people will never acquire in their lifetime. People think 911 and picture the police officer, the firefighter, the paramedic often completely forgetting the 911 dispatcher. For us, that's okay because other than this one week out of the year, we don't expect praise or thank you. When it comes down to it, we love what we do and we would do it no matter what.

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America Is Facing A Shortage Of Doctors, And It's Because How Society Treats Them

The United States severely overwork their residents, who are expected to work 40 to 80 hours a week. This is particularly unacceptable when compared to European residents who work at most 40 hours per week.


You may think, doctors get paid well... really well. Why would we have a shortage if everyone wants to be one?

First, let's break down the "doctors make bank" myth. Physician income varies immensely, depending on the specialty and the region in the United States. A neurosurgeon in Montana is going to make far more than a primary care doctor in New York. This is just basic supply and demand. Then subtract income tax, malpractice insurance, and student debt, and you have a smaller income to live off of. So before you think about pursuing the career for the money, think again.

If you are a pre-med student or know one, then you know how difficult it is to get into medical school in the U.S. The struggle of maintaining a near-perfect GPA during undergraduate school and creating a competitive resume is stressful, not to mention studying for the now eight-hour long MCAT entrance exam. Because medical school is so difficult to get into, the shortage of slots creates insane competitiveness and challenges the security of choosing to go to graduate school.

Medical students are some of the hardest working people I know in my personal life, among many, but they all faced a similar dilemma at some point: do I sacrifice my youth or a stable future? After graduation from medical school, students then work during a period called residency in which they further their experience and prepare to take Step 3, the last board exam. The number of residency positions do not match the number of physicians needed. The United States severely overwork their residents, who are expected to work 40 to 80 hours a week. This is particularly unacceptable when compared to European residents who work at most 40 hours per week.

Our society requires doctors to answer to government mandates, for example, the newly instated EHRs. They have to juggle patients, hierarchy, lack of help, and too many patients. What results is a scary concept of resident physician suicide? Kevin Jubbal, founder of MedSchoolInsiders started a movement called #SaveOurDoctors, promoting better care of those who take care of us.

If we need more doctors, we need to reorganize our healthcare system, and the profession itself. Doctors should not have to sacrifice their lives to save us.

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