A Part of my Picture: My Occupation

“A person does not choose a vocation. A vocation is a calling. People generally feel they have no choice in the matter. Their life would be unrecognizable unless they pursued this line of activity.” The Road to Character – David Brooks

Meg coaching her Round Rock team

In an ideal world, we would all be on the road to where occupation and vocation merge seamlessly. Some of us are further along that path due to luck, wisdom, privilege, resilience, blessing, or some other intangible; nonetheless, we are all on our journey.

Thanks for joining us today.

Meg, Educator

I haven’t always taken the “normal” route for my career. But every “job” that I’ve had thus far has been connected to educating. Maybe it’s teaching someone how to shoot a jump shot; maybe it’s showing that the effects of past racism are still prevalent in our present. Nonetheless, I’ve been lucky enough to realize that despite the role, there is always an opportunity to learn as well as an opportunity to teach someone something new. So regardless of my “occupation,” I am always looking for opportunities on how to challenge myself and others to think beyond what’s just there.

Leslie, Student

I'm a full-time student, which I'm extremely grateful to be, but it means I'm still pondering what my role within society beyond graduation will be. It feels childish to use the words, "I want to be [insert profession]" at nineteen; It's loaded with childlike infinity, but I am and want to continue being an artist. In the words of Cesar A. Cruz, I want my work to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable. How I'll stay alive doing that is a "distant" bridge 2-years away, but I think I've always known my responsibilities in this world lay in creating.

Kara, Teacher

When I try to describe my boarding school work, I say “lifestyle” instead of “job.” Only a lifestyle with such rich relationships can crush me with the gratitude I feel frequently on my walk to work. I teach juniors - a statement I changed from “I teach English” after a conference inspired my deeper understanding of education. My lessons come from beside my students, in the form of questions, as it’s their voices that I want to empower. I’m proud of the life-serving communication skills my class provides, but I’m just as motivated to instill empathy, social justice, and self-worth.

Jonny, Writer/Sales

I recently began my first job out of college and find myself in a sales role for a technology start-up called Bento. While my passion is writing, I have found the community and collaborative role I am a part of at Bento to be fulfilling. I write sports articles and occasionally some poetry in my free time, as well as blog posts and articles for Bento. Writing is the most fulfilling work I do, as it demands my creativity and allows me to express who I am now, as well as the idea of who I want to become.

Talibah, Student

Being a student means learning inside and outside of the classroom. I believe I am a student by nature as the Arabic translation of my name means “seeker after knowledge”. To me, my role is to engage with the teacher and the material I am trying to learn and understand information so it can be interpreted and used as building blocks for more knowledge. My responsibilities as a student do not include simply memorizing or agreeing with everything presented to me. To learn is to challenge and understand. I’ll be a student first, along with any other occupation I choose.

Melissa, Leading a Leadership and Inclusivity workshop

Melissa, Educator

I’m an accidental educator; I thought it would buy me time before my “real” career. Twenty years post-first day, I’m still here. I’ve had plenty of mistakes and heartaches, along with pushing, challenging, loving, and growing kids into the people they’ve become, and to know the impact I’ve made. A child of immigrants, I was supposed to be a doctor or lawyer, or at least an MBA, otherwise, my parents would be embarrassed. But being an educator has become a source of pride in my life -- it’s not an accident after all. I’m where I’m supposed to be.

Pablo, Teacher

Education runs in my family and even though I did not become an educator right away after finishing college, it was just meant to be. My first experience teaching was awful, I went back home crying because the students had been rude and just did not want to work with me but after that bad experience every day is a new adventure for me in the classroom. I feel fortunate to love my profession this much and I try to show that passion every day in class. Learning languages opened many horizons for me and I want the same for my students.

Russell, Chef/Entreprenuer

I have had a love for cooking since I was 5 years old. It started in my mother’s friend’s kitchen, learning to crack eggs, cut cheese, and boil pasta. Even at that delicate age, I remember using cooking as my therapy. Cooking brings me calm, allows me to be creative, and watching people appreciate my creations brings me joy. This passion has driven me to own and operate two high-demand food trucks in the heart of Providence. The ultimate goal is to share Incred-A-Bowl food in restaurants across the world. Feeding others’ stomach’s as I feed my soul.

Russell preparing a dish on "The Rhode Show"

Drew, Boarding School Teacher

When I think of work I picture someone laboring on a job site, or pulling their hair out over an approaching deadline. While I have done both of these things in work environments I disliked, boarding school makes me want to shave my head and go all in. It really is an all or nothing mentality you need to have when working, living, eating, coaching, dorm parenting kids for an entire year. When I think about previous jobs I keep coming back to the fact that my favorite jobs have had very little downtime, and boarding school takes that to a whole new level.

Dolph presenting at a Student Leadership Workshop

Dolph, Educator

Being an educator means taking responsibility for, the relationship between the material, the “student,” and myself. I am responsible for inspiration and outcomes; it’s my duty to motivate students to want to engage with the material and me. Core to my role is knowing each student’s strengths, weaknesses, hopes and the potential hindrances to growth. I fully recognize the interdependence between the students’ successes and failures as well as my own within that relationship. My first assumption is that every student can learn, and it’s my job to help them find the motivation and tools that will make it possible.

Tomorrow our journey veers toward the more difficult conversation around racial identity. See you then.

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