I've wanted to be a teacher for as long as I can remember.

When I was a kid, I would sit in my cold basement for hours playing school with all of my Webkinz plush dolls. I would spend my free time creating fake tests for the dozens of animals, taking them, and grading every single one. I found so much joy in writing demerit slips and detentions, hosting school talent shows, and organizing school proms.

It probably wasn't much of a surprise to my family when I actually made the decision that I wanted to teach for real early on in my high school career, but I still wasn't sure what subject area and age group I wanted to concentrate in. Some days, I wanted to teach middle school. On other days, I wanted to teach preschool. I went back and forth wanting to teach algebra and English. I could not make up my mind.

In one of the first few days of my junior year of high school, my theatre teacher (I went to an arts high school) gave us an in-class journal prompt that asked us to reflect on our goals for ourselves and that class that year and for our futures. At first, I struggled to write about my future. To be completely honest, deep down inside, I wanted to have a career in theatre. I knew that my chances of being an actor were few and far between, and before that moment, I never considered any other area of theatre as a career for myself. I began to think of teaching again, and then it clicked for me. I needed to teach theatre.

Theatre is part of me, I recognized this in middle school, early in my theatre career. At this point in my high school career, it was more than just a hobby that I did outside of school. Theatre was (and still is) my way of life. I am in love with everything about it. I love acting, stage managing, directing, designing, playwriting, dramaturgy, building light cues, reading and analyzing plays, seeing plays and musicals, and everything else about theatre. There is no way that I could ever give any of that up. Ever.

In a 53 minute class period right before lunch, I realized that teaching theatre would allow me to do so much of this every single day and get to share it with budding young artists like myself. The only way to let theatre continue to live and change lives is to pass it on. From that moment on, I felt and knew that it is my duty to do just that.

I chose to come to Temple because of the concentrated Theater Education 4+1 program. I was so sure that this is what I want to do with the rest of my life. As much as I know that this is what I meant to do, there are still many days that I doubt what I am doing. I get so frustrated. Sometimes the work feels too hard, and I don't feel capable. I am aware of the harsh reality that teachers in America are severely underpaid and that theatre programs are being cut in schools all over the country. People left and right tell me that I shouldn't teach and that I shouldn't work in the arts. There are times when I can't help but think they are right, but they are so dead wrong.

Theatre is more than just art. Theatre changed and saved my entire life and morphed me into who I am. It was the constant in my life when I was bullied in middle school, my mom and grandfather both passed away unexpectedly within 5 months of each other when I was in 9th grade, during many conflicts with family and friends, and throughout my periods of anxiety and depression. It helped me find the confidence I needed to figure out who I am. I wouldn't be where or who I am today without it. Art saves lives. I was lucky to have the experience I did, but art shouldn't be an exclusive thing. We need it in our schools.

So, yes, I will continue my studies towards becoming a theatre teacher, and nothing will change my mind. I believe in the power of art and its worth. Knowing that I will someday have the power to change a child's life for the better makes this incredibly difficult journey worth every damn second.