Rediscovering My Childhood Dream at the University of Iowa

By Maddy Pettit

When I was in high school, and going on college visits with my parents, I became fixed on two very different schools: the University of Iowa, a large research institution, and Loras College, a small private school. I remember telling my mom how I was leaning towards the smaller school because I wanted an intimate community feeling. My mom, however, had a different view. She kept pushing me to look closer at the University of Iowa. With a larger university, if I wanted to change my major once, twice… or even three times… it would be far easier to do so with so many majors to choose from. But no, I told her, I already know what I want to do for the rest of my life!

The funny thing about college, or life in general, is that you may think you know what you want to do, but new experiences will change your mind. That happened to me—and most people I know—several times.

When I was a little girl, I used to tell my parents that the two things I wanted when I grew up were to own a yellow Lamborghini and be a teacher. As a joke, they bought me a remote control yellow Lamborghini toy and said I was halfway there. Throughout middle school and high school though, I slowly drifted away from the thought of becoming a teacher. I came to college set on double majoring in social work and psychology, and though I didn’t exactly know how, I wanted to somehow combine them. Halfway through my sophomore year, however, I started wondering if there might be something even better for me. My good friend, Jasmin, still jokes how nearly every week I would declare a new major. From pre-law, to linguistics with a double major in Portuguese, to neuroscience… I had so many outlines of how to graduate on time that at one point, I even thought I might become an academic advisor.

Over winter break, of my sophomore year, I returned home to work at the childcare center I had worked at the summer before. But when I got there, my boss told me that I was being placed in one of the preschool classrooms. I knew that I wanted to have a job working with kids in some way, but it wasn’t until that winter when I was sitting in front of those preschoolers that my childhood dream of being a teacher came back to me. When I returned to campus, I met with an advisor from the College of Education, and took a few elementary education prerequisite courses. I absolutely fell in love with the field and applied to the program just before the deadline.

Choice is one of the many reasons why I am grateful for being at the University of Iowa. I started college with one aspiration, planned out several other possible life paths, and came out on the other side having rediscovered the second part of my childhood dream.

Maddy Pettit is a 20 year-old senior at the University of Iowa studying Elementary Education with a minor in Psychology. Her passion is working with students from difficult home lives and she would like to someday work with English Language Learners.

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