When I decided to begin college in 2009-10 I did so because I decided I needed a change in my life, so I was going to go to school to become a paralegal. I applied and was accepted to the paralegal program at a local community college, and began taking a mixture of classes in my field and prerequisites. My first term was intro to paralegal studies and English 1 since it had been a year or two (or ten) since I graduated.
Intro to paralegal was interesting, but I absolutely thrived in the English class. I got a 95 on my first paper which absolutely ruined the curve for the rest of the class. I had forgotten how much I loved to write. I thrived when given a topic to research and write a paper on. It all came back to me, how much I love to read and write. I hadn’t forgotten exactly, but I had pushed it aside to concentrate on other things. I left the class with an inkling but still determined to become a paralegal.
Then I began my second required English class with Professor Abrams. Within the first couple of classes he looked me right in the eye and asked what my major was I answered and he said, “No, you are an English Major.” I laughed and shook my head. The whole rest of this class he would occasionally say something to me about being in the wrong major, and that I should be an English major. I just kept laughing, shaking my head and telling him he was wrong, but in the back of my head I kept repeating his words over and over again to myself.
My final paper for the class was on the Edgar Allen Poe story “The Fall of The House of Usher.” I researched thoroughly and presented a paper I was incredibly proud of. I got full marks, and under the grad he had written “Betsy, Stop pretending. You are an English Major! Brilliant work.” It felt like a punch in the stomach. I know looking back that it was that moment that I decided I would be changing my major from paralegal to English.
I did not change right away, though, first I slogged through two or three more paralegal studies classes, and several more prerequisites. Then I looked at my husband and asked if he would object to me changing my major to English. He reasonably asked me what I would do with my degree, to which I said “Teach I guess.” And in spite of my lack of plan and job prospect my husband could tell it meant the world to me, so he said of course if it will make you happy. So, I went to the school and asked to change to English.
I graduated with my associate’s degree, and decided that I should go ahead and finish my bachelor’s. I enrolled in an online program that would work with my full time work schedule. I graduated with my bachelor’s degree in early 2019 approximately 10 years after I decided to change my career trajectory by going back to school. Then I decided to enroll in Grad school and pursue my Master’s degree.
I am absolutely not sad that I made the decision to change my major, and my life. I found my love of writing again, and my love of reading. I found a passion I had forgotten. And when working on my degree I was forced to confront the fact that I had never considered being a writer/author as being a viable outcome. I had told myself that was an improbable and impossible dream that I could never possibly fulfill, but suddenly I was being told it is an absolutely viable career choice. So the question became, is that what I want? Do I want to be an author?
I am still not sure I know the answer to that. I know I want to write, but I am still not sure exactly what form that is going to take. I guess I just keep writing and learning, and eventually something will strike a chord. In so many ways getting my degree actually didn’t change my career at all. I am still working for the bank I was working for when I began. My job does not use my degree in the slightest currently. Right now I am focused on finding a job that utilizes my ability as a writer, editor and creative.
Thank you Professor Abrams for telling me again and again that I was an English Major until it sunk in. Would I have gotten there on my own eventually, probably, but who knows. Sometimes, when you are me, you just need it spelled out for you, in blue pen, on the bottom of a paper.