Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

CELINA GRAY MMIWThis last quarter of school was full of procrastination. I’m sure I am not alone in this. A couple things happened that really have me questioning myself and why I am in school. I think the biggest occurrence was that a professor that I had this past year was let go. I don’t know the details of his release—I am merely a student. And while the decision affects me, I have little to no administrative power. At larger universities student bodies may protest such an action, but here a petition is probably the most you will see. This professor, fresh out of graduate school, was young, passionate, and, while still figuring out how to fill the shoes of a college professor with all its limitations, was very helpful and always welcoming. In many respects, I feel as though I can empathize.

Even though I am not a professor, or even close to a master’s degree, I too have been recently criticized about being too idealistic and not able to make my grandiose ideals into a functioning reality. Add that criticism to my procrastination and, well, there is probably some truth to it. We are battered constantly with reminders about how it’s a competitive job market out there in the “real world.” For some the answer is learning a trade; for others, like myself, it’s about heightening one’s education. I do not plan on stopping until, at the very least, I earn a master’s degree. I have seen a need—a need for tribes to protect their natural resources and a need for more women in the field. And I plan on filling these needs. I have worked hard towards my aspirations, and so this criticism really struck a nerve. There are many roadblocks along the way, especially for someone with a budding family.

For me though, comfort comes from personal perseverance. My father passed away my freshman year, affecting my academics. I took three years off and had twins; I made good use of that time getting an internship and other relatable career experience, but getting back into school was difficult. Every time I apply for scholarships, which is often, I am reminded of these experiences. I am also reminded of where I want to be. The work I want to do with young people, exposing Native youth to science and culture—and showing how the two are so connected. I take every opportunity that I can to make a difference.

Every path has some kind of toll to pay though. Dips in the road like being fired, or a spell of procrastination and lack of motivation can create mishaps. What really makes a difference is how we rise. As long as we don’t wreck ourselves in the process then it’s just another tale to tell, building character with no fear of the world or the men that rule it. Even the teachers that are temporary have a role to play in our path, and for that I am grateful.

I hope that in his future endeavors, academic or not, my former professor finds his niche. To those who may criticize me, I take your words and add them as a piece of my own beautiful puzzle—still to be acclaimed.

Celina Grey is a student at Salish Kootenai College.

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