As you know I am currently taking 2 graduate courses in counseling. One of those courses is all about career development. I had to write a paper that incorporates my path to my career and many career theories that have impacted me. I chose to write my paper about myself first and then go back and plug in the theories. Because the theories will make it way longer and maybe a little less interesting to some of you (but maybe more interesting to others) I am pasting just the autobiography part of it on my blog. It is not yet edited and will have some flaws. Here is my path to teaching and counseling. Enjoy!
In my early years of playing I remember pretending to have a couple of different jobs. I was a teacher, a cook, and a mom. When I was pretending to be a teacher I had my friends sit in an old school desk that we had at our house. I would give them assignments to do and then it would be my turn to sit in the desk and be the student. I much preferred to be the teacher than the student. As a little girl, I also had a kitchen set that was outside in the backyard on our deck. I would go around the yard picking different flowers and grass and call them herbs and food. I particularly remember a purple flower that I pretended to be an onion because it was the same color. I would put these things on my stove and pretend to be cooking it all. I would serve it to my parents on the table and chairs that were out on the deck. I loved when they played along. I also remember playing like I was a mom. I did this with dolls, but also with my mom and dad. I was an only child so they were my playmates unless I had a friend over. When I would play like I was a mom I would tell my mom that she was the baby and that she needed to take a nap. She has since told me that this was the easiest playtime with me because she got to sleep!
As I grew up I said I wanted to become many things from teacher to doctor to lawyer. Becoming a lawyer stuck with me through about ninth grade. I made a friend in seventh grade that had my same first name, Lauren. We were best friends throughout all of middle school and high school and are still good friends today. In seventh grade, she also wanted to be a lawyer and for a couple of years we said that when we grew up we would open a law firm named “L&L Law.” When we got into high school I do not think we talked much about this anymore. We probably realized that that was more of a “middle school” dream. However, I do not recall what I wanted to be in high school. I do not think I knew. I remember at times I wanted to be a photographer like my dad. He was a professional wedding photographer, and he said I had a gift for capturing photos. I do not think I wanted to be this for long and it was always something that I went back and forth on. My mom was a licensed professional counselor from when I was about ten years old until now. I remember admiring her because she went back to school after I was born and got her bachelors and masters degrees in six years with highest honors. However, I did not want to do what she did. I did not have the desire to help people, really. I wanted to do what I liked and what I enjoyed. The problem is that I just did not know what that was.
In October of my junior year of high school I was shopping with my mom when I realized I needed to get a job. I kept picking up things that I wanted, and she kept giving me that look that said “no.” I remember holding up a necklace I admired at Stein Mart in Rockwall and saying, “Mom, I need to get a job, don’t I?” I knew my friend, Lauren, had just gotten a job at Spring Creek Barbeque in Mesquite, so I went right home, drove myself there, applied, and was hired on the spot! I began my first job as a “bread girl” making minimum wage, which was $5.15 at the time. I enjoyed working with my friend, but quickly realized that this job was not getting me places. I needed better hours and more money. I also needed a better boss.
In the spring of 2003 I applied at Chick-fil-a where my boyfriend of six months, as well as many of my other friends, worked. It took me a month of applying over and over again to finally get an interview. The owner said he knew he’d better call me because I was going to make them run out of applications. In March I started my second job as a cashier. I can still vividly remember the first day that I worked at Chick-fil-a in the morning and then drove to Spring Creek to start my dinner shift. “Exhausted” does not describe what I remember feeling. I promptly quit my job at Spring Creek to continue what was to become a 2-year stint at Chick-fil-a. Both the owner and the general manger of Chick-fil-a liked me, gave me several raises, and were great to work for. I worked there throughout the rest of high school and until the end of my freshman year of college.
Now let me rewind back a little to the summer after my junior year of high school. This experience overlaps with what was going on in my life while I worked at my first couple of jobs. In July of 2003, I went on a mission trip with my youth group from church. It was my first time to visit a place that was genuinely poor and way below the poverty line. It greatly impacted me. I made close connections to many of the little boys and girls in the neighborhood and cried and cried when I had to leave them. Nevertheless, I went back to school and enjoyed my last year of high school. I became frantic when I realized I had not been working hard in school and did not have very good grades. I knew that I wanted to go to Texas A&M University in College Station, but without any prodding from my parents I decided to go to Eastfield for a year, determined that I needed to make good grades so that I could transfer. Looking back on this, I do not understand why I did not just apply to A&M and see if I could get in. I think I was worried I would be rejected and then my choice to go to Eastfield for a year would not have been a choice at all. Nevertheless I decided upon majoring in business, without any idea what I wanted to do with my life. I signed up for the basics, though, so that everything would transfer to A&M.
The summer before I started my freshman year of college I went on another mission trip with the same group as the year before. This time was different. Graduating from high school had already given me a new perspective on life and the world. It is crazy how much I had grown in just one year. There was another big change on this trip as well. There was an older guy on the trip helping out as an intern, whom I just adored. His name was Casey and he was three years older than me, about to start his senior year at the University of Texas in Austin. Aggies versus Longhorns, I know. While on this trip we talked quite a bit about my recent breakup, my intent to go to A&M, and other aspects about life in general. At the end of the trip, when it was time to leave the little kids, I again cried my eyes out on the way home. I could not stand leaving them. I was sitting by Casey on the van ride back when he mentioned to me that I obviously loved children and was good with them. I thought, “okay, is that not true with most girls?” Apparently not. Casey told me that his mom was a teacher and he could see me being one some day as well. A light came on in my head. I had not really thought about being a teacher since my days of playing in elementary school. It was not something I wanted to do in any of my recent daydreams. I thought about this for the rest of the summer and my first semester of college. I still said I was majoring in business, although I was just taking basic classes and did not have to declare a major at Eastfield.
That first semester of college Casey and I began dating. Even though he graduated from UT and came home to live in Mesquite, I was still determined to go to my dream school three hours away. I was accepted into the College of Education at A&M my sophomore year and decided upon teaching language arts and social studies for grades 4-8. Casey and I dated the rest of my time in college and had a long-distance relationship. My senior year, A&M allowed students to student teach anywhere in the state for the first time, so I came home and did my student teaching in Rockwall. We got married four months before I graduated with my bachelors in interdisciplinary studies from Texas A&M.
I finished student teaching during April of 2008, got certified to teach grades 4-8 in language arts and social studies as well as English as a Second Language. I graduated in May of 2008 and attended job fairs in Rockwall and Forney. I was called in May for a second interview in Forney to teach 6th grade English Language Arts and Social Studies at a brand new school. I am now about to begin my third year in that same position.
While teaching I have grown close with our school counselor and have “picked her brain” on many occasions. She, like me, taught 6th grade English before becoming a school counselor, giving us a lot in common. Her first year as a school counselor was my first year as a teacher and so we kind of started out new together, taking many “new to Forney” technology and introduction classes. I would say that my conversations with her definitely lead me to apply for the graduate program at Texas A&M-Commerce. However, there is another aspect that has steered me down this path as well. As a child, I never wanted to do what my mom does. Since then, I have grown very fond of my mom’s job as a counselor. She has her own practice in two different cities and is doing very well for herself. She is at a point to where she loves her job more than she ever has. In addition, I love that the program I am in gives me options to be versatile. I can become and school counselor while gaining hours to get my license and then I can decide which I would like to do. I have also been to a few counseling sessions in which my counselor, who was an LPC, was a school counselor and also saw clients at night and on weekends.
All of these experiences have brought me to the position in my career that I am in today. Without my husband initiating thoughts about teaching I may never have decided to be an educator. Without my mom’s successful career as a family counselor or my friend at school, I may never have decided to begin my graduate work in counseling. Family and friends play a very important role in my life and in my career, and I am very thankful for them and their support of my goals and aspirations.