Saturday, January 18, 2014

HE HAS A PLAN FOR ME

He has a plan for me...

Preface: This section of my blog helps to explain exactly what it is that I do, why I do it, and how I got to where I am today.   It is a bit lengthy, but it is through the little details in the lives of others that we truly are able to understand them. 



 || MY Plan for ME ||
I have always loved art. Always. When I was little I knew I wanted to grow up and be an artist. My senior year of high school I taught an art class at an elementary school as well as an after school graffiti class at a different school. It was then that I realized I wanted to one day teach art.  It was also through teaching this art class that I was able to get a job at the same elementary school the next year. I spent the next four years working at that school, three of which were with anger management kids, (boy do I have some incredible stories about that) and my last year with sweet kindergarteners. 
As I was working at this school, I was also attending the University of Utah.  As a freshman I began the Art Education program, originally with an emphasis in drawing and painting. I would be lying if I said I loved it. I didn't. At all actually. However, I had a dream to become a high school art teacher, so I stuck with it. 
At the end of my third year of college I was finally going into my senior year. I had made it! Just one more year and I would be living my dream. 
Or.... so I thought.  

I went in to meet with my advisor, (as I had done nearly every semester) and she proceeded to let me know which classes I should take to be on track to graduate (as she had done each time we met.) She pulled out a long list of classes and asked which ones I had taken. As I looked it over I started to feel sick. I hadn't ever seen any of these classes let alone taken them. This was a list of all the education classes from the education department that I needed to take in order to be certified.  Each of these classes would have counted as the generals that I had been taking for three years. As I looked it over I realized that just those classes alone would add on about two more years of school in order to complete them.
I felt sick. I was so upset. It seemed like all my hard work for three years had been a waste. I felt farther away from my dream than ever before.  I even felt slightly, ok... incredibly upset with my advisor. After all, it was her job to tell me these things. Right? 
I left her office trying my best to hold back the tears.  



|| CHANGES || 
the creation of BE WISE
It was time for a new plan... I still wanted to (or at the time felt like I had to) do art. I had already come so far it wouldn't make sense to give up. So I decided to switch my emphasis to photography. At least this way I could make money doing photography if things didn't work out with teaching.  I did photography for about a year. I liked it much more than the drawing and painting department but I still didn't love it. I felt like I was learning more on my own than I was from the classes. But I stuck with it. 
It was through photography that lots of opportunities and experiences came. I met countless wonderful people, I was able to do photos for big events downtown and meet different celebrities, I traveled to L.A., Atlanta, and New York for photoshoots. I even had the opportunity to do photos for a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader's wedding in Mexico. Some of my very closest friends today I met through doing photography.  
Along with all these incredible experiences, it was through my photography that I was able to create BE WISE Magazine. The majority of the photography throughout each of the magazines I personally do. BE WISE Magazine has completely changed my life and offered me a way to share what I believe with people all around the world.  I never would have switched my emphasis and picked up photography if it wasn't for the issue I had in school by taking the wrong classes. 
I look back now and I am so grateful that happened. 
It lead my life in a new direction that I never would have taken otherwise. 



 || A WHOLE NEW WORLD ||
I continued studying photography at the U for awhile and then about a week before the last semester of my senior year I was looking over the classes I had registered for. I had been very meticulous while registering to make sure I didn't mess anything up. As I looked at my class schedule I realized I had somehow added two photography classes for the same day and time. Both of these were required and only offered that particular semester, I would have to wait a year before I could take them again.   
I couldn't believe it. I didn't know what to do. The classes were full and my only chance of switching would be showing up and practically begging the teacher to let me add their class. So, that is what I did. The teacher told me to sit through the class (all studio classes are three hours) and at the end see if someone drops or doesn't show up and then she would possibly let me stay. 
A little frustrated but also understanding I sat through the class... for about two of the three hours.  The more I sat there the more I realized I had no interest in what this class was about. In fact, I was dreading it. I also began realizing just how much I truly disliked the art department. Everything about it. I was never happy there. I texted my mom and told her I was done. I didn't want to do art anymore. She was very understanding and said she had just gotten off the phone with the Department of Sociology at the U and that she thought it might be a good match for me.
Without hesitation, I gathered my things, walked out during the class I was in and headed straight for the library. The second day of the semester in my senior year of college I dropped all my classes, added completely new ones, and switched my major over to sociology.   
It was scary, I had lived in my "safe" little art world the whole time I was in college. This was completely new territory. I hadn't even stepped foot in the Sociology building in all the years I had been at the U and now it was going to be my new world. Even though I was nervous, it was very exhilarating. I felt empowered.  Never before had I enjoyed school as much as I did studying sociology. This is where I was supposed to be. I hate to admit it, but while planning for college and what I should study, not once did I ever pray about it. I just knew (or at least thought I knew) I wanted to be an art teacher. 




|| MOVING ON || 
working as a Prevention Specialist / Youth Advocate
In May of 2013, after 5 years of college, 4 of which were studying Art, I got my degree in Sociology.  That same month I went over to my old high school, the school I had dreamed to one day work and applied for a job. Knowing I couldn't teach because I wasn't certified, I told the principal I would be willing to do whatever he had to offer, I just didn't want to be a janitor or a lunch lady. Other than that, I was game for whatever he had to throw my way. 
He had an opening for the position of a "Prevention Specialist". As he explained the job to me I became very intrigued.  I accepted and couldn't wait to begin working at the end of the summer. 
Working as a Prevention Specialist I am essentially a Youth Advocate. I have a caseload of approximately 30 students. These students are typically at risk students who we identify through their (poor) attendance.   I have had students on my caseload with incredibly sad lives, some of which are even homeless. I am responsible each day to check their attendance and grades, meet with the students, call home, make appointments with parents and administrators and most of all advocate for the students. 
Most days are truly incredible and I am extremely proud of my students and the progress they make.  However, there are also days full of heartbreak. I care about these students more than words can express and when I see them slipping, it is at times very difficult. 
I came home from work one day and was discussing the day's events with my mom when she stopped me and said, "Ceciley, do you realize you are working your dream job?" I stopped and thought about what she had said, and she was right.  I wasn't teaching art, but I was working with a population I have always dreamed of working with. I have a soft spot for "at risk" or "troubled" youth. As a Prevention Specialist I have the opportunity to help change lives. I might not be teaching in a typical setting, but each day I am striving to teach these sweet young people how to be happy and how to be successful in their own lives.  


 || HIS PLAN is better than MY PLAN ||
I might not have the most glamourous job, but I would argue that I have the most fulfilling and rewarding job. This Is what I was meant to do. Heavenly Father knew that. He had a plan for me. It wasn't my plan. But His plan is far better than what I had imagined for myself.  I became discouraged along the way when things didn't work out as I had planned, but looking back, there isn't a thing I would change. 
My life didn't work out for me the way I had envisioned... It worked out much much better. By just 22 years old I became the owner and creator of a globally recognized online magazine, I have had opportunities to travel and meet incredible people. I have been able to share my beliefs with others who live all around the world, and each day I get to wake up and work with some of the strongest and most inspiring youth I have ever met.  
Heavenly Father has a plan for not only me, but for all of us. He knows each of us individually. He wants us to be happy.  At times we might be confused as to why things aren't working out the way we had planned. Have faith and don't fear. Trust that the Lord is in control. As long as we are doing our part and living our lives as best we can, everything will work out in the end.