Let me tell you a story.
If you had asked me even a month ago if I could see myself being a teacher when I got out of college, I would have most likely immediately said no—in fact while I was visiting the campus of the college I will be attending in the fall, Mississippi State University, I was asked this question twice, and both times I shook my head and said something along the lines of, “That’s not really what I’m interested in doing. I want to be an author.” So, let me tell you, I’m just as surprised as all of you that in four years I’ll be teaching English! How all of this came to be is both a long and a short story, and it’s filled with some pretty incredible circumstances because this story is full of God working.
Hmmm…Where to begin…Ah, yes…Concerning hobbits. No, this isn’t Lord of the Rings, but literature is one of my greatest passions in life. I devour books, a habit that has served me well throughout my many moves as a military brat. Everything from classics to more modern works, mystery to fantasy—I’m constantly reading. In my room right now I have three large bookshelves piled with books of every genre and I’m constantly buying more. One of my greatest pleasures in life is introducing someone to one of my favorite books and have them tell me they couldn’t put it down. However, though I knew that there are teachers who only teach English, whenever I thought about being a teacher I always pictured someone who had to teach every subject—something I most definitely am not interested in doing.
About a month ago I received an e-mail from a program called the Mississippi Excellence in Teaching Program inviting me to submit a scholarship résumé to their program. The scholarship they offered was a full ride—tuition, room and board, books, a laptop, money to study abroad—and the commitment you had to make was that you would teach in the state of Mississippi for at least five years after you graduate. The offer was very tempting. Yes, that would mean I had to live for nine years in the state of Mississippi, which could be a little difficult further down the road when I started to contemplate marriage, but it also offered the security of a job right out of college. Not many college students can say that they already have a job secured for them after they get out of college.
The way I came to be eligible for the scholarship is a bit of a story in and of itself. When I was deciding what college I would be attending, I had narrowed it down to Mississippi State University and a little private college in Alabama, Huntingdon College. Everything about Huntingdon seemed to fit what I was looking for perfectly. It was a private Methodist college, the campus was gorgeous, and the writing community there is very active. The more I prayed about it, however, the more I was inexplicably led toward Mississippi State. The METP scholarship is only offered at two colleges, Mississippi State and Ole’ Miss.
As I thought about the offer, I began to appreciate what the scholarship would mean for me, so I sent in my scholarship résumé. The day after I put in all of my information for the scholarship, our church youth group went to a place called Children in Crisis, which is a foster care facility in a nearby town. There I met this adorable little girl who was deaf. We only spent a few hours there playing with the kids, but in that time, despite the fact that I only know one or two basic signs, I was able to play and joke with her—we were able to connect despite the language barrier. God used that little girl to show me so much, about myself and about the world around me. When we left, she was in tears—and so was I.
Children are a passion of mine, although it took me a while to realize it. My mom and I have been talking about going on a mission trip together for a couple of years now. There is a group from our church that goes to Guatemala every spring break to a malnutrion center, and every time I heard people talk about the kids there, my heart ached for them. We discussed joining the group and going to Guatemala, but my mom revealed that her heart’s desire was to go to the
orphanage in Russia where my little brother and sister spent the first few years of their life. As we talked about it, I found myself even more excited to go to Russia than to go to Guatemala, but I also felt a bit guilty. I felt like my excitement to go to Russia stemmed from my love of traveling and my interest in European cultures, but I didn’t want to go on a mission trip excited by the tourist aspect of the trip. I wanted to go because I wanted to serve.
So I asked God to show me a reason I wanted to go that wasn’t fueled by my love of traveling, and the reason He revealed to me was my passion for children, no matter where they are. I love being around kids. One of the highlights of my summer every year is getting to help out with the WinShape Camp and Vacation Bible School that my church hosts. I love seeing the kids get excited as they go throughout the week, and the relationships I’ve made through the camps are very special to me. I’ve been a babysitter since late middle school, and very little can match the joy I feel when a little girl comes and sits in my lap for me to read her a book.
As I waited to hear back from the scholarship committee, these things kept playing in my mind, making me more and more excited about the possibility of being one of the people to receive this scholarship. When they called me to tell me that I had received the scholarship, I could hardly believe my ears. I still think I’m in shock. It seems incredible to me how God has been working in my life. I can’t wait to see how He continues to work in me and through me as I start college in the fall!