I reached my homeroom seat just as Mr. Finn, a balding short man who was always known to make you smile and who was often considered a goofball, began to call roll. On and on the list went until I finally heard my name.
“Michael Ernst,” he said.
“Here!” I replied, felling a little winded from my rush into the school.
After confirming that I was present, I finally began to relax. I knew that I had fifteen minutes until my first class would be starting at 8:30, so I took this time to go in search of some friends to kill the time. Across the room I saw one of my best friends, Logan Stuckey. It was hard to miss this enormously tall figure with his lanky, branch-like arms gesturing me over. As I reached him, we began to talk about what we wanted to do with ourselves after high school.
“I plan on entering the Air Force for four years,” he said, “then going back to school with it paid for.”
Others began to chip in their plans until it was only me who had not given a response.
“So what about you Mike?” Logan asked.
This is where I began to feel a little awkward about the situation that I had gotten myself into. I began shaking my leg nervously on the ground. I even felt a little sick to my stomach. The truth was that I knew that I wanted to go to college, yet why did I even want to go? What did I want to go for? Hell, I could barely get myself awake in the morning, so how in the world would I be able to make this enormous life changing choice?
“I’m going to go to Pitt-Bradford,” I replied, trying to hide my dismay.
“Well, that’s good to hear,” Logan said.
Others around me began to give me similar approval, and I knew that I had avoided having to answer the questions that were building up in me.
At 8:30 the bell rang and the students began to pour into the hallway as they headed to their first classes of the day. I followed suit and was soon pushing myself through the gaggle of students. Everyone’s voices filled the halls to the point where I could barely hear myself think. It was all right though, because I was on my way to my first, and favorite, class of the day.
As I continued down the well-lit, dull hallways I saw my classroom in the distance. Standing in front, like always, was my favorite teacher, Mr. Riley. He was very athletic and had hair that was so long that it was almost a mullet, and on his face was a defined mustache that had become part of his image. I was a few feet away when he noticed me, and called me by the nickname he had given me for my love of the Miami Dolphins football team.
“Miami Mike,” he said. “You don’t seem like your normal self. Are you sure you’re all right?”
“Yeah, I’m good,” I assured him, then headed into the classroom.
The class began and I knew I was in for a treat. Mr. Riley taught history and was a great teacher. Every day I looked forward to learning more from this genuinely funny and well- informed man.
As the class went on I began to think again about what I wanted to do in college. Suddenly, it was as if the floodgates had opened in my mind. I had absolutely loved every history class I had taken, so not act on this love for history?
The class proceeded and by the end I felt like maybe, just maybe, I had an answer to the question of what I wanted to study in college.
My next class was a study hall in the cafeteria and I knew what I had to do. Ms. Hamilton was my study hall monitor. When she asked if anyone needed a pass to go anywhere, I flung my hand into the air so fast that I thought it might rip out of its socket.
“Where do you need to go Michael?” she asked.
“I need a pass to go to the guidance counselor,” I responded.
I exited the cafeteria with its glorious smell of pizza being prepared for lunch and reentered the dimly lit halls on my way to the guidance counselor. When I reached the door I pushed it in and listened to it squeal shut behind me. I then took a seat and began nervously tapping my feet, awaiting my turn to see the counselor. It felt like the heat had been turned on full blast and I began to sweat with a mixture of excitement and nervousness.
Finally, Ms. Ferguson appeared with her soft and kind features, and beckoned me into her office.
“What can I help you with today?” she asked.
“I need to know if Pitt-Bradford offers the major that I want,” I replied.
“And what would that be?” she asked.
“Social Studies Education!” I exclaimed, excited to finally have my decision known.
She looked up the list of the majors at Pitt-Bradford and informed me that they did indeed. Delighted, I finally knew the answer to the question which I had been asking myself for months. I knew what I wanted to go to college for!
I left the room and headed back to class felling like a huge weight had been lifted off of my shoulders. The hallways seemed more exuberant, and the rest of the day went by in a blur. It was that day that I was able to leave school with my college selection, major choice, and career choice, all decided. I finally knew what I wanted to do with my life.