Thursday, January 16, 2014

Alyssa, Much More Than Just Cereal

I am celebrating my 20th year of teaching by profiling former students who are doing great things in their field. As I've watched them grow into adults, I have been impressed with an aspect of their lives and want to share them with you. I fully recognize that I was merely a small part in their growth and development, but I can't help to be proud. By highlighting these former students I hope to encourage other teachers that what we do is a noble and worthy cause. We have the ability to boost others to greatness we have never considered.

I bumped into Alyssa’s dad last fall, and we both had one of those, “Hey, I know you,” moments. We quickly started chatting and catching up on life, and like any proud dad, he lit up when I asked him about his family.

Let’s just say that Alyssa is a multi-faceted young lady.  While I reached out to her based on her future career, her answers show that we are more than our jobs -- an important thing to remember once in a while.

I am coming up on my final semester at Morehead State. I am majoring in Business with an International Management focus. My last semester is going to be pretty enjoyable, I took a lot of credits my sophomore and junior year, so my senior year would be easier. I’m going to be taking piano, singing in the Black Gospel Ensemble and doing ceramics along with my classes for my major.

I currently work for the school as a tutor. I tutor business courses, writing, English as a second language, Gen-eds, and other random classes I’ve taken. I already have a job lined up at Kellogg Company, which I will be starting after I graduate.

Piano, Black Gospel Ensemble, ceramics, tutoring… Not exactly what I thought I would get as an answer, but I’ve come to realize that Alyssa enjoys diverse things in her life. As it turns out, she decided to make college a time of exploration, mixing in some fun things that didn’t count toward her major.  So, she’s learned about Photoshop and app development along with her international business studies. After taking three ceramics classes, she has learned to love making pottery and now even has a pottery wheel to continue her hobby after graduation. Morehead sits in rural Eastern Kentucky, a gorgeous part of a beautiful state. So, she also spent a lot of time hiking the mountains, swimming in the big lake, and doing some rock climbing.  (Just thinking about it, makes me long for another camping trip down there, but enough about me.)

Alyssa chose to focus on international business because she really enjoys travelling.  When I first reached out to her, she was in France.  I thought for sure it would have something to do with the international flavor of her studies, but in reality she took part of her Christmas Break to go visit a friend who lives in Paris. So, I asked her where she’s traveled.  Here’s her answer.

I've traveled to the Dominican Republic (Mission Trip), Uganda (Mission Trip), Africa (Mission Trip), Canada (Mission Trip), South Korea (Study Abroad), and Paris, France (Fun Trip). I've also had the pleasure of traveling the U.S. which is pretty cool in a lot of places.

Of course, I perked up when I read South Korea, having travelled there to adopt our daughter. It was interesting to hear that she was in Korea for four months learning culture and language and enjoying the awesome food!

I don’t know about you, but I got my first job AFTER I graduated from college, not two semesters BEFORE graduation.  So, I was shocked when I first heard that Alyssa was hired by Kellogg’s so far in advance of her big day which was the main reason for me asking Alyssa to participate in this blog series.

I applied to a ton of companies throughout the fall and spring of my sophomore and junior year, and landed a summer internship with Kellogg Company. After working with them for the summer and completing a project that I presented to corporate, they offered me a position; it was such a happy day for me knowing that I will have a job when I graduate! Hooray!

With a desire to see new places and meet new people, Alyssa requested to work in Oregon, Idaho, or Minnesota, where she will start out as a retail sales rep, managing 10-20 stores in a  territory.  This will involve ordering product, making sure it’s stocked, and working with store managers to work out promotions and optimum display space when possible.  She never expected to land at company like Kellogg’s, but she’s happy to be in a stable company and plans to make the best of it.

However, there are future goals that may or may not include ordering Froot Loops for the Walmart Supercenter in Mountain Home, Idaho. Eventually, after saving up enough money, Alyssa would love to start her own small business, boarding and grooming animals.  She absolutely loves animals, and is excited to begin planning to live that dream.  She says it’s a work in progress.

She also talked about building or renovating her house one day, thinking if they can do it on HGTV, then it can’t be THAT hard. She also is interested in finding a good church that connect her with Christian people her age.

I would like to find a church filled with people that I can truly connect with. My home church is really great, and filled with people that do love me, but I don’t feel a strong bond with the people my age, it’s mostly people that are much older than me that I talk to. I’d like to have a group of strong Christian friends that can grow with me spiritually, mentally and emotionally.

I’m always interested in students’ memories of our time together and how those memories affect these “kids” into adulthood.

Well, I only had you as a teacher for half a year, but it was a very productive half-year. I didn’t realize how well you had set me up for success in my English and writing. Of course I do get lazy with my English and grammar, shamefully so, but I have a good understanding of the way things should be thanks to you! The reason I said I never realized it is because I figured everybody had the same opportunities for education that I did, but after I started tutoring I quickly realized many people really have no idea how to write, much less what a verb, pronoun, or prepositional phrase are. I know that stuff, because you taught me songs to remember!

What’s funny is that during our conversations she would apologize for her bad grammar, and sadly it was lost on me.  I guess I should blame Twitter.  However, it’s great to know that what I used to teach 6th graders sunk in (with only a semester’s worth of work) and is now helping college students that I’ve never met.

I love that Alyssa has a diverse set of interests and it’s obvious that she strives to be the best she can be in all she does.  It’s been wonderful to reconnect with her, and I’m excited to see where she goes in life.  

Oh, and one more thing… Her favorite cereals are Rice Krispie Treats and Apple Jacks.  Mayb there be many free samples in your future!

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