The way this story goes, is that somewhere along the lines of three months ago, while in the middle of an interview with a prospective student, I had a very strange, very sudden realization. The interview was going perfectly normally – some lively discussion, questions being asked and answered, and interests being expressed. There was nothing particularly out of the ordinary, nothing that felt unnatural. Not, at least, until I got a question from this particular student which I had never had an interviewee ask before. It wasn’t that odd of a question. In fact, I had been asked this question countless other times by so many different people it’s difficult to keep perfect track of where, when, and why I had been posed this particular set of words.
“So what are you planning on doing with your English degree?” the high school student asked me earnestly, “once you graduate, I mean.”
My answers to this question had ranged drastically throughout the last four years. I want to go to law school. I want to teach. Now I want to go to law school again. Now I’m horrendously undecided. But this time, the answer rolled off of my tongue with a degree of certainty which was nothing short of astonishing.
“This,” I replied easily, gesturing at myself, at the office we were sitting in, a sweeping motion which encompassed the entirety of not just my attire – classy and professional, though I say so myself – and our conversation, but the Office of Admission as a whole. “I want to go into Admissions as a career field.”
It was like everything just sort of fell into place, not with an audible click, as that would be horrendously clichéd, but with a seamless, miraculous whisper of clarity.
“Wow,” I thought to myself, not letting on my sudden burst of excitement and frenzied clarity. “For the first time in since coming to college, I actually know what I want to do.”
After that interview was over, I took time to sit down and really think through my views, the perspectives and experiences that had led me to this sudden realization. Once I had ascertained that yes, this was in fact something that I could not only enjoy doing, but something that I truly wanted to do, something that I was good at, I realized exactly how amazing the path that had led me to that decision was. It was a long one which started around five years ago, when I was a Junior in high school receiving my first college tour. A spark ignited there which led to a little bursting flame when I applied to be a tour guide my Sophomore year at Whitman. That ember blossomed into an actual passion once I was chosen to be one of Whitman College’s Senior Admission Interns, a passion which stemmed, I realized, from the simple joy of doing something that I felt was useful. I wanted to give back to other people that same amazing experience I had received at my very first visit to the college, an experience without which I may have simply passed Whitman by, missing the myriad opportunities to grow and expand which Whitman had allowed me.
I don’t pretend that I now have absolutely everything figured out – the matter of actually finding a job once I graduate is still frighteningly open ended – but I do realize that without my Whitman experience, I might have an incredibly different outlook on the years after college, if I even had an outlook at all by this stage in the game. It’s crazy thinking how the simple choice to come to Whitman has allowed me to go from having minor inklings of passion to possessing actual knowledge and conviction. That’s the gift which Whitman has bestowed upon me, and it’s the gift which I hope it has bestowed upon many of my fellow students, my classmates and friends.
So while it’s still strange to think that I’ll be graduating in a couple months, that for the first time in my life I’ll be working in the “real world” and no longer a student, I feel – and this is still a foreign feeling for me – like I’m ready for it.
Which, when you come right down to it, is a really crazy realization to have.