It’s been 8 months since I graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. To me, it’s crazy that almost a year ago I was sitting on campus trying to decide what I was going to do after I finished college. I knew that I wanted to start figuring out what my “big kid job” was going to be but I didn’t know where to begin. In college, if sorority could be a major, then it would have been mine, hands down. Greek life taught me more than any college class could have taught me. I learned life skills, communication skills, leadership skills, and so much more.
A year ago I knew that I was going to apply to be an LC but I also knew that applications were due in December then interviews wouldn’t happen till February and then I wouldn’t start the job till mid-Summer. I had a huge gap and I had to figure out how I was going to fill it since was graduating in the fall of 2016. I took the biggest leap of faith at the beginning of 2017. I decided to move from Las Vegas, ACROSS THE COUNTRY, to Charlottesville, Virginia. I was moving from my city that never sleeps to a small town full of history, but 2,000 miles from the nearest In-n-Out Burger! A cross-country move isn’t easy – trying to find a job, make new friends, and find new hobbies in a town that is nothing like what you grew up in is scary, but that’s a story for another time. Before I moved, I secured a part time job as a substitute teacher in my new county and I planned on being a substitute until I could fine a more secure job in Virginia. On my third day of substituting in a preschool classroom, my life changed for the better.
I was substituting in Miss Valerie’s special education pre-school class when she approached me about filling an open position as a teacher assistant in her class. Within two weeks of making a cross-country move, I had found an amazing full-time position doing something I never pictured myself doing. I was nervous to accept the position because I didn’t get a degree in teaching, let alone special education. I didn’t know if the children would like me and want to learn from me, but I had the best support system. Miss Valerie, Mrs. Darcy and Mrs. Shelia taught me so much about teaching in a short period of time and they continued to encourage me every day to be the best teacher I could be for the children.
If you have ever worked with kids, you know it takes a special type of person to love it. You have to have patience, love the little things, care for the future of each child individually…and have even more patience. I worked with kids from age 3-5 years old. Although we all might agree that nap time was the best part of the day, every hour of the day was full of joy and new adventures. From teaching our students the ABCs, to reading Elephant and Piggy books, to wearing bug eye hats around the school, to all of the field trips we went on, teaching pre-school in Virginia was the best thing that could have happened to me. My co-workers became my best friends in Virginia and helped me though the difficulty of being away from home. The students we taught made me laugh more than ever before, and on the day of preschool graduation, I could not have been prouder to have helped them grow into soon-to-be kindergarteners.
Because of this job, I have found a new passion for education and I’ve found myself wanting to go back to school after my time as a leadership consultant. I wish I knew during college that my calling would be to work in the education field – but better late than never. I haven’t put much thought into where I will go for graduate school, just that I want to go. I’m torn between wanting to go back to school to be an early education teacher or take another route and go into higher education.
Moving to Virginia in 2017 was the best decision I made after graduation. I have no regrets taking the chance and making the move. It was not easy, and Virginia challenged me more than I have ever been challenged. But it taught me to always be open to new challenges and adventures and that some of the best friendships come when you least expect it and that it is okay to be independent in a new place.
Charlottesville, Virginia is nothing like Las Vegas, Nevada – so many trees, no bright lights. I embraced the differences and tried new things and I am forever grateful that I did. Because of my Charlottesville adventure, I feel more confident moving to Alabama for my year as an LC. I can’t wait to explore a new city and find out what Birmingham will teach me about myself. Thank you, Virginia, for challenging me and making me who I am today. You will forever have a special place in my heart, and who knows, maybe I’ll be back in a few years.
XOXO, Em Srok