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How I became a teacher
Crystal Whitley, 24, Fourth Grade Math Teacher, Cleveland, Texas

I recently graduated from the University of Texas with a bachelor's degree in applied learning development (education) and am now a certified teacher for prekindergarten through fourth grade.

But I didn't start out with the intention of becoming a teacher. For my first two years, I studied business. During this time it was a struggle to stay motivated in my classes, and I just couldn't see myself making a living in the field of business.

It was a scary feeling not knowing what I wanted to do. I felt lost and helpless. I knew I needed to find something I would enjoy and feel positive about as a career. But what?

Seeking an answer, I asked God for His help. Growing up, anytime I had a problem my mom would always ask, "Did you pray about it?" I had already learned that this was some of the best advice I'd ever received, so I put it into practice. I asked God to help me discover a field I would enjoy, and I spent some time thinking about what I liked to do in my spare time. Summer camp came to mind. Serving at camp was something I looked forward to every year.

Realizing that I liked working with youth, I came to the conclusion that I should try teaching. I truly believe God led me to this decision because I never considered teaching before. When I was in school, I wondered why anyone would want to teach and why anyone would willingly get up early every morning to come teach for the rest of his or her life. Now I began looking at teaching from a different perspective.

Summoning my courage, I walked into an advisor's office and, in the span of less than a week, I changed my course of study. The results were amazing.

My grades went up dramatically. I rarely missed classes, because I now enjoyed them. I even liked the reading and assignments that accompanied my classes. I had a wonderful picture of myself graduating with a degree in education, teaching in my own classroom and loving the work I would do.

Looking back, I thank God every day for the blessings He has given me. Without His guidance, I would not have made it through college. I also asked Him to help me find a job where I could use my abilities to make a difference in children's lives. God answered this prayer too.

Just before summer began, I was hired as a fourth grade math teacher in Cleveland, Texas. As I write this, I am excited and a bit nervous as I begin my first year of teaching. But it's comforting to know that God helped me get this far, and I know He will also be there for me in the future.


How I chose my career in engineering
Daniel Harper, 25, System Engineer at Vogtle Nuclear Electric Generating Plant, Waynesboro, Georgia

Have you ever imagined yourself working as an engineer in a nuclear power plant? I hadn't either until I was a sophomore in college, but the path to my current job as a system engineer began long before then.

As a high school student, I always tried to do everything. I took the hardest classes, played three sports and joined as many clubs as I could. I was always searching for a challenge. Looking back, I now realize that my career in engineering began because I thought it would be one of the most challenging.

Engineering is a field based on taking problems and using knowledge, resources at hand and creativity to form innovative solutions. There's a great deal of "thinking outside the box."

Growing up, I always enjoyed watching the television show MacGyver. He was constantly thinking outside the box, usually to save his life or others. Perhaps this character was my inspiration.

In my junior year of high school I decided to become a computer engineer, then applied to a handful of universities. I finally decided to attend the University of Montevallo, a small educational institution without an engineering school, to reduce the cost of my education. There I completed the general courses all freshmen take. Then it was off to Auburn University's engineering school to pursue my engineering degree.

At the beginning of my sophomore year, I was on track to be a computer engineer. I thought I might become a consultant or work at a software company. I felt I would enjoy helping businesses resolve software application problems.

Also, I had a strong interest in the French language and thought that speaking French would allow me to be a consultant on the international level one day. Halfway through my sophomore year, I decided to add a French study abroad experience to my college education. I spent four months in Nice, France, taking classes in French language and culture.

I came back from France as a junior with a minor in French and two full years of courses left in computer engineering. This paid off sooner than I thought it would. By the end of my junior year, I had been accepted as a summer engineering intern for a large French company. My assignment was at a nuclear power plant in northern France, where I was further immersed in the French language. Also, I knew that Southern Company, my eventual employer, wanted me to be an intern the following summer. Suddenly, before finishing college, I had launched my career as an engineer!

My last year of college went well, as did the internships. Southern Company was so pleased with my performance that they gave me time to go to Ambassador Bible Center before starting work full-time as a system engineer at a nuclear power plant.

My work is not what I expected to be doing with my degree, but I enjoy it. I enjoy the challenge of learning and solving problems. My career is still just beginning, though. I still have my sights set on working internationally one day, and I am working hard right now toward that end. I thank God daily for what He has given me, and I ask Him daily to continue developing me into an effective servant, an ambassador to this world of His way of life. VT