The year was 1970, and I was a sophomore at UMKC studying my favorite subject, history. My friend and I would sit in the dorm until the wee hours of the morning, talking about the unorthodox delivery of Dr. D, our English Literature instructor. His lectures were wild and wonderful. His gyrations and ad lib remarks along with his sparse chin whiskers gave every student who walked into his lab ample ammunition to poke fun at him and his unruly style of instruction. Nary a soul missed one of his performances and his classes were filled to the brim with eager underclassmen waiting to witness his next outrageous maneuver. This is who I wanted to be; who I wanted to emulate; a man so completely sure of himself and his craft that he felt at ease with every awkward jerk and uncoordinated gesture. He was a man so thoroughly entertaining that I couldn't wait for the next session to begin, and felt disappointed when the clock indicated that I must leave his "stage". And so it began my insatiable interest in being an educator, but it would take another 31 years to realize my dream.
The year was 2001, and my construction business was taking its last breath, and with it, years of trepidation and frustration came to an end. I sat alone wondering what my next days would bring, if anything. I solemnly vowed never to pursue a dream again. I was defeated and distraught. I considered giving up, but I was reborn when I my best friend suggested that I return to college and finish my degree in education.
The year was 2003, and I looked in the mirror and saw a graduate of Northwest Missouri State University. With diploma in hand, I start a new chapter in my life, never looking back; always forward. This would be my mission and I vowed not to succumb to trite and frivolous distractions. I have been given a chance to begin again, and I will die trying to make the most of this opportunity. This is why I want to teach. It has given me a renewed sense of self worth, and I am thankful beyond words for this second chance; one that many do not receive.
Teaching at the Career Center allows me the opportunity to relate my experiences to others. Even though many challenges in the past have resulted in less than glorious results, my students can learn from my mistakes and my triumphs. Life lessons are my specialty, applying academics to experience, showing the cause and effect of combining scholastic endeavors in life to the work place. It is my hope that incidents in my life may positively affect another's, if nothing more than as an example of initiative gone awry, or a success against all odds. I consider myself as more than just a survivor in life, but a purveyor of life's lessons and an example of perseverance. A storyteller of sorts with a message; a message of hope and encouragement for our youth who certainly need all of the inspiration they can get!
Submitted by J. Patterson