I’m Going Back To College

Rodney Dangerfield back to school

Well.. imagine that.

If you’d asked me just a couple of weeks ago (even less, really) whether or not I’d ever have a college degree, I’d most likely smile a wry Mark Mushakian smile and say, “Probably not.”  Yet, this past Tuesday night, I suddenly reapplied to Saddleback, and was registered for 5 classes the following afternoon.  I’m on a path to be done there by this upcoming fall semester, and then I’ll be transferring to Cal. State Fullerton.  My major?  Child Development.  My purpose?  To be an elementary school teacher.  Out of left field?  Kinda :).

I’ve contemplated teaching since I was a kid in school, myself.  Over the years, whenever it’s come up, I could shrug it off with a, “Nah.”  I also, of course, struggled with hurt from the past, but my new gig at Lego did a lot to help fix that :).  A few weeks ago, though, my friend Sarah shared a thought she’d had that I’d be a great teacher and that I should pursue it, and I shrugged it off with a,  “Nah,” but this time – the idea didn’t go away.  I’m not sure if it’s how others work, or not, but that’s a very Mark thing to do.  It may take me a long time to be in the right place to make a certain decision, but when I do, it’s not one of grandeur… I’m simply ready.  I’m not writing this post because it’s a moment of “I’m FINALLY doing this!  I’m making my dreams happen!”,  but more as if it’s an obvious statement.  “Oh, okay, yeah… I’m doing this now.”  Once the decision clicks in my head, it’s just a done deal.

This isn’t to say that I’m not happy about it all :).  After realizing I could apply in time for the upcoming Saddleback semester (starting this Monday), it all just fell into place.  That I could get 5 classes I need, with less than a week before the first day of school, was something I wouldn’t have expected.  That, just today, another class I was hoping to get just happened to open up, and I was able to nab it and turn one of the other classes into an easy online course.  That I’ve been able to save up some money with my new job, so that I can easily afford paying for this first round of schooling.  That the available hours at said job have been cut so much after the holidays, I’ll have no problem working it around my class schedule.  I find that, when it’s time for me to do something in life, things just work.  There’s a peace in that, and it’s splendid :).

I’m not one who is huge on personal symbolism and labeling events as “signs”, because I think that mentality can take one in any direction one chooses.  However, there have been plenty of little encouragements and things that caused me to smile and share a laugh with God, as He pointed things out to me before and after this choice.

1. Teaching Among Madness
My thoughts on being a teacher ebbed and flowed over the last few weeks since Sarah mentioned it, but they’d been strong since I wrote my farewell to 2011 entry… a post in which I can definitely see a man who is not too thrilled about a future void of direction.  That set me up great for this Tuesday night at work, where the Lego Store had its Monthly Minibuild event.

On the first Tuesday of every month, a couple hundred kids line up at the store,  and we gather a few at a time at tables, show them how to put together this little set, and they get to take it home for free.  I’d learned how to put the set together earlier in the week, but they changed plans and put me outside managing the line.  I was cool with that, but after a little while, the manager asked me to trade with one of the other employees inside, so for most of the night I was teaching a group of 6 kids at a time how to put this little green cobra together.  It was very fast-paced, but still fairly fun.  The best part, though, came after the line was done with.  A mom and her little 3.5 year old daughter came in, and asked about it all.  I ended up showing the girl how to build her set, just the three of us, and it was an absolutely wonderful experience.  That night, and especially that moment, was the straw that broke the camel’s back.  I came home and, after seeing that I could still make it in time, applied to Saddleback that night.

2. A Familiar Tune
Just last night, I was driving home from hanging out with a friend, and Dave Matthews Band – Space Between came on the radio.  When I first started at Saddleback out of high school, I was so worn out on school, that I failed and did horribly.  I dropped the next semester, only to try again a little later at OCC.  Again, my heart just wasn’t in it, but I’ll never forget driving up there one final time to drop my classes.  That was about when this song came out, so it was playing all of the time, but as I drove on a beautiful sunny day, it began to play on my radio, and I felt a peaceful relief in escaping college for a while.  Last night, ironically, the same song played for me in a time when I feel a peaceful relief about going BACK to college.

3. Priorities
When I told my folks about my plans, they were of course, more than up for it.  After my dad had said something, I responded with, “Yeah… it’s nice to have a direction.”  I’ve been out of high school for over a decade, and I’ve been floating the entire time.  I’ve written plenty about movies and an acting pursuit, but it was never “it” for me.  As to where my future career leaves my theatrical endeavors, we’ll see.  I was talking with a counselor at Saddleback on Wednesday, and as I told her… it’ll always be there.  As for the #3 moment, it came on Monday night.  I was talking with the assistant manager at work, as we walked out to our cars at the end of a closing shift, and he said something like, “I really hope you find success in life,” to which I naturally responded, “All that takes is a wife and kids.”  We talked about what that meant, but it set up my mindset perfectly for teaching the kids the next day at the build event.  Living my life, finding financial security, and (down the line) being able to provide for a family of my own, have all been a higher priority to me than a serious acting pursuit, and I can be honest about that.  Besides, teachers get summers off, as well as plenty of vacations during the year, so it’s not like I’ll never have an opportunity to make something :).

4. The Graduate
The Lego figure for the month of June in 2011 was a graduate figure.  That’s my birth month, so when I first saw the display as we set up our store, I thought it hilariously ironic.  Over the last few months, though, it always caught my attention as one of my favorite minibuild sets of the past year… and, in my eyes, the dark color of the face made it look like he had a 5 o’clock shadow – which I, myself, can’t avoid having.  So, when we took down the display (before I’d made the decision to get my degree,  of course), to make room for the upcoming 2012 figures, my manager offered me one to take home out of a few that were left.

I’ll let you guess which one I just happened to grab :).

Lego store monthly minibuild june 2011 graduate

So, here’s to 2012 being a much more interesting and valuable year than I thought it would be, to my choosing a career, to my choosing a career that is going to mean my classes are filled with cute women, and to my endeavor to be the future teacher of your children.

Imagine that :).


About Mark Mushakian

Just a man who loves God, women, kids, dogs, movies, and every other lovely thing in life :)
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