Over the past four years I have spent at Chadron State College, I have met many wonderful people, from colleagues to students to administrators. With my several health problems, I can’t be more grateful for the support and encouragement from the many people here who have helped make my life happier and healthier.
Coming from a big city where everyone lives anonymous lives, Chadron is an amazingly refreshing place where new friends abound. If you would have told me 5 years ago that I would have gone to a swing dancing night or take students canoeing, I wouldn’t have heard you because I would have had my earphones in and likely would have face palmed you.
As much as I love the students and my fellow faculty here at Chadron, I made a decision back in September to leave. It is not out of spite or frustration, but to do what I love. Flyfishing and writing. When I came out to Chadron I hoped to blend my love for the outdoors with my love for history. Teaching all week and hunting all weekend, what could be better, right? However, the profession of academia was far different and time consuming than I expected when I entered graduate school.
The moral of this brief personal anecdote is this: Do what you love. I have had several advisees and dozens of random students come to me to discuss their majors. Some weren’t happy with their majors. Some weren’t happy because they couldn’t achieve their desired major here at CSC.
Some weren’t sure if their major would continue here at CSC.
My answer was always consistent: Do what you love.
Chadron State has no shortage of excellent instructors. Say you’re an unhappy buisness major, but you like to hunt and fish. If you want to learn about wildlife management, I’d be the first to introduce you to Theresa Zimmerman. Say you’re an unhappy history major (which is a ridiculous notion, but I digress) I’ll take you over to meet Deane Tucker, Brad Wilburn, Bob McEwen, Kathleen Barr, Lee Miller, Elizabeth Ellington, or my personal hero George Griffith to get a more literary based education. If you want to learn about guitar…um…Charles Carey will blow your mind. Sandy Schaffer will finish the job. Professional writing? Mike Kennedy will teach you how to write damn well and blow smoke in your face for journalistic effect. If you want to learn how to beat someone to a pulp, I know a fellow Oregonian by the name of Wada…Jamie Wada.
Chadron State has a multitude of excellent programs and instructors. But what if you can’t find what you want here?
One of the worst things that people do in life is “settle.” Whether it’s a girlfriend, boyfriend, occupation, living location, or college major. Sure its “safe” for a couple of months or years, but “safe” is only covering a longer term issue that will re-emerge. I know this as well as anyone. If you’re not happy with what you are doing, it will affect all other aspects of your life.
As an undergrad, I had the great pleasure of taking a course which last year Playboy Magazine and the Chronicle of Higher Education—maybe the most different publications you can imagine—both named “Farside Entomology” at Oregon State University the Best American College Course. I took it because I loved bugs and flyfishing. It had nothing to do with my history or economics degrees, but I learned more from Dr. Mike Burgett than any other course I took in 9 years of college. While at Stanford, I had the great opportunity to learn economics from Milton Friedman, American history from Richard White and David Kennedy, foreign policy from Barton Bernstein, and gender studies from Estelle Freeman, but nothing was more interesting to me than learning how to stir fry mealworms in Mike Burgett’s entomology class. Like many people, I thought I was “supposed” to go to grad school and live the life of a professional. It turns out I’m happier camping, hunting, fishing, and writing. I hope you all can find the same kind of peace.