February 23, 2012

My current career thoughts

A few days ago I began my foray into the as yet uncooperative job market with the optimism of one UD alumnus swinging a well-forged sword.

DC has long been out of reach for one possessing a substandard GPA, and I know of few family circles living outside of Texas and Louisiana. Add to that the fact that I have grown to admire Texas in the last six-and-a-half years of my pilgrimage, and it becomes much harder to leave.

Outside of cyberspace, people have been asking me about the inevitable post-graduation plans, and up until now the only honest answer I could give was that I could head back into chiropractic school should no other option open up before early May, when I would have to be registered for the summer trimester.

Two difficulties present themselves, however:

1. My impression of the chiropractic college’s bent is such that, after you have completed all four parts of the National Board exams (which would most likely cost me an additional $3000 along with the tuition and fees) and finished your classwork, one’s own survival as a chiropractor is largely unassisted and literally left to one’s own devices. It wasn’t until last fall that the 30-year-old college brought in prospective employers as it recognized the relative lack of opportunities outside of major metropolitan areas, highly saturated with chiropractors seeking the luxury of continuing education courses at their doorstep. Even after this generous gesture on the part of the college, I still cannot say with full confidence that I can find a viable way to pay off my immense loan burden from the word go -- mostly because, as I am the first college graduate out of my immediate family, I am very much uninitiated in anything, let alone the chiropractic world.

2. As I admitted in the last paragraph, I have a standing obligation to repay a great deal of loans back to the federal and Texas governments. My liberal arts education would not have been possible without them, but there comes a time when a oft-uttered cliché must be said: enough is enough.

Aside from this, I have always wanted to do something that inherently possesses a genuinely high chance of “helping people” as a man of service, honor and integrity. This premise drove me through my first year of science and chiropractic classes. This same premise also moved me to volunteer for many service projects in assistance to the poor and helpless, including a spring break in a community of illegal immigrants. As a theology graduate with a minor music background, I can direct my energies toward teaching theology/religion and music. I could also teach ESL abroad, though it is very difficult for me to find any free ESL program abroad where I don’t have to pay tuition just to teach English at some school. In North and East Texas, there is also an especially great need for youth ministers. Even UD seems to have a position available on the Rome campus every year for a male Rome Assistant, but I’ll leave this one up to a more capable individual for the time being.

For the time being, these are my thoughts. Pray for me in my search, and I will certainly pray for you.

Some news...

Last fall, I registered for five classes at UD in a last-ditch effort to get my BA. Like almost every other UD semester, it was not a cake walk. (There has never been a cake walk of a UD semester in my memory. One who would peruse my transcript would very likely disagree, but each semester is set apart in time by each of the unique challenges presented before the student, and hence there is never an “easy” semester per se.) If there is any myth that anyone with a pulse and a hundred thousand dollars can get a degree from UD without a sweat, let the record show that said myth is busted.

These five classes of mine were the last obstacles before my long-awaited and anticipated undergraduate degree. Four of them needed to be retaken. Two were entirely new to me. Two were fairly easy, exciting and downright enjoyable. One was toned down to the undergraduate level in content and approach, while one was relatively erratic, going back and forth between periods and spiritualities.

When final exams arrived, my whole academic career came down to the wire. I felt that two classes came very close to holding me back. Again. I ran a mental and intellectual marathon that week, and came out with more than a hint of lethargy at the end.

And then came the waiting game.

Two weeks pass. No sign of anything from the Registrar’s Office. Another week flies, and I get a slip showing that a course grade has been adjusted. A month rushes through, and I pay the business office my dues. That was when I did not expect the expected.

Just days afterward, I get a postal redelivery slip in my inbox indicating the post office was holding a large flat. Two days and one wasted trip later, I arrive at the office, and found the return address showing “Office of the Registrar”. Upon opening, a laminated card falls out. I had all the evidence I needed to call myself the family’s first college graduate.

I felt a little giddy inside... I just spent 9 semesters at one college pursuing a rather elusive degree, and I finished my pursuit. Finally.

Naturally, I had to celebrate this. Such an achievement deserves to be celebrated, after all. So I went to Chick-fil-A.

Later that night, a good friend gave me the real deal at a posh Mexican restaurant and an ice cream parlor. The only thing that I believe would cap this off completely -- apart from the May ceremonies -- would be a night of bowling and In-N-Out goodness.