September 2006 (v9 i1)
Drinking Ourselves to Sleep Since 1997
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English major gives up on dreams, teaches
by Sara Kanewske, Associate Editor

In preparing for her teaching job, Kristin
Fellows says she’s not worried about her
performance in the classroom. It’s the
crushing disappointment and lifetime of
bitterness that she’ll have to get used to.
AUSTIN — Junior Kristin Fellows decided to enroll in a teaching certification program in addition to her English major. Fellows describes the decision as a “safety net” in case her dreams of being a Pulitzer Prize winner or book editor fall through.

“I think at some point everyone has to grow up,” sighed Fellows as she brushed dust off a faded Hemmingway cover. “There are like, what, two jobs where people pay you to read books? At least with teaching I can afford the anti-depressant medications I’ve recently been prescribed.”

Freshman year, Fellows embraced her decision to become an English major by joining the Undergraduate English Association and Sigma Tau Delta, the English major fraternity. “Back then I was young and foolish,” said Fellows, smiling sadly. “I remember a time when I was surprised that so many of my classmates were getting a teaching certificate — I thought there was a plethora of careers available to English majors. Then I realized there’s not. At all.”

Fellows notes that not all English majors rely on the standard fallback of teaching. “I did meet this one girl, Johanna, who got this job as an editor for this online magazine,” said Fellows. “But a couple months after she graduated the company folded and now I heard she’s teaching English in Lebanon.” Fellows laughed bitterly and added: “At least she’s getting to travel!”

During her first year at UT, Fellows roomed with Sophie Lane, a history major. “Sophie used to talk about how she wanted to become a historian and publish a series of essays on the Crimean War,” said Fellows. “But by the spring semester she decided it would be a whole lot easier to become a teacher — I guess some people just realize their fate of being chained to a chalkboard sooner than others.”

Fellows’ conversion to teaching occurred when she attended the Undergraduate English Association’s career fair last spring. “It might as well have been the College of Education’s career fair,” sneered Fellows. “I guess no one needs editors anymore — all they want is someone to teach little snot-nosed morons how to spell their own names so they can manage to pass the TAAS or whatever they call it now.”

Fellows’ parents, however, did not share their daughter’s newly acquired loss of hope and expressed relief at their daughter’s decision to get her teaching certification. “We’ve always told Kristin to follow her dreams and that we would support her no matter what,” gushed Betty Fellows. “But I have to say it sure is nice to hear her have a decent answer when people ask her what she wants to do after college—not that silliness about publishing her short stories!”

Fellows’ father Edward put a reassuring arm around his wife and nodded in agreement. “Thank God it wasn’t any worse — a guy I work with has a son who chose philosophy,” he shuddered. “You can’t even teach that!”

Fellows acknowledges that her decision to pursue teaching does make her feel more secure about her future. “I used to hate getting together with the family over Christmas and Thanksgiving and having to look at their bewildered faces when I told them I wasn’t going to be a teacher,” explained Fellows. “Now I just have to practice masking my own look of disappointment and will myself to wake up in the morning.”
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