By Dwight Hunter
My career journey was typical – I wanted to be something in high school but that didn’t happen after college.
So, I wandered around not sure what I was doing with my life. Eventually, my wanderings landed me at Chatt State on a lark - a job search born out of desperation. And I got lucky on that desperate search – I found my career home. Now back to the beginning of my story.
I chose a college two states away from home because, one, no other college offered me a scholarship and, two, because it was far away from home. Sounds typical. But as luck would have it, I stumbled onto the best learning and supportive environment possible in Le Mars, Iowa at Westmar College. This was a good thing because I was a lousy student. I rarely studied; I rarely read any books; I skipped a lot of classes. There was one night class that began at 5:30 but I routinely showed up at 7:00 – still got a B+ because I am pretty intelligent. The biggest complaint my high school teachers said about me, ‘I never applied myself,’ was still there at Westmar.
But despite my lack of effort, I still carried a high GPA, which was good enough for me. I was a junior at Westmar when the provost asked me if I was ever going to declare a major. I created my own major throwing in sociology courses, political science courses, history courses, English courses, and religion courses into one oversized major. I thought that was the coolest thing to create my own major and be able to do whatever I wanted.
But, during that same semester, a faculty member really pushed me to take an off-campus semester program studying U.S. government in Washington, D.C. And the next semester, I was in D.C. That semester was an eye-opening moment in my life. I came back to Westmar fired up as a student – made A’s during my senior year and got into graduate school at my beloved Kansas University – Rock Chalk, Jayhawk.
My experiences at KU grad school were great. I would not take that experience back for anything. But I wasn’t a journalist. I could write with the best, I knew the right questions to ask, I could ace all of the grammar tests, but I didn’t have that cajoling personality to build a network of trust. That’s one thing that can’t be taught in a classroom.
So, I wandered. I was working, earning a paycheck, but not for any great societal cause nor contributing to lifelong learning. I did make a lot of friends – many of whom are still friends. But I wandered around for years looking for a place to fit in.
Then, I applied for a library job at Chatt State. I really wanted the job. I thought I did well during the interview. A few days after the interview, I received a letter from Chatt State notifying me that I did not get the job. Simply, heartbreaking. However, a few hours later that same day, I got a call asking if I wanted to work at Chatt State. I said. “Yes – most definitely!” And now 25 years later, I’ve earned another master’s degree in my field of work. You can read about that particular journey here.
Keep looking because wandering can be a good thing, a chance to fill-up on hope. Never give up, even when desperation wants to swallow you up, keep looking.