By Sarah Bey
Blog Content Contributor
Chicago-native Shannon Finley is a sophomore transfer student majoring in education. Finley comes from a military family and discussed some of the lessons she learned growing up around the country and the world. She also talked about her transition from business to schoolbooks.
Bey: So why education?
Finley: Well, originally I started as a business major and it didn’t really seem to fit my characteristics. It didn’t really fit who I was and so over the past summer I kind of just did a lot of soul searching in a sense. I figured that what I really like to do is to make a change and I found that one of the best ways that, me personally, would be able to do that would be through teaching. I find that I can connect a lot with younger students and just with students in general because as someone who has had education be a big part of my life, I feel like that’s where I belong. I grew up in a military family and the main thing that was constant in my life was knowing that I would be going to a school that had kids in it that would be like me. It was just one of those things where I always feel comfortable at school and I feel like that’s kind of where I belong.
B: You said you are from a military family. So where are some places that you’ve traveled to?
F: The big one is Germany. I lived in Kaiserslautern and Stuttgart and lived there for a total of seven years. It was two different times in my life. I was in Stuttgart from kindergarten to second grade so, I started school in Germany and then Kaiserslautern I was there for all four years of high school so that was like ending school. So, that had a big part in what I want to do when I get out of college. I would like to become a DODs teacher and go back into the system and teach students who may be in the same position I was in when I was in school. You’re just in a new place and you just feel kind of lost. You either have that one friend that knows how you’re feeling or the teacher. It’s nice when the teacher knows what they’re going through. But other places I’ve lived outside of Germany are a lot of places in the States. Right now I live in Texas, obviously. Chicago is a big one that’s where all of my family is and we lived there for five years. Louisiana was one; I was born in Georgia; Kansas; New York. I’ve just lived a lot of places.
B: What branch was your Mom or Dad specifically in?
F: My dad was in the Army. He recently retired so it’s been a big change in our family. But it’s all for the good.
B: What are the big cultural differences between the United States and Germany? I lived in Germany when I was three to six and I don’t remember a lot of it. So how was it going to high school there and coming to college here?
F: For one, it’s definitely calmer in Germany. Everyone there is kind of just going with the flow and just kind of letting things happen. Even though they are letting things happen, there are certain things that they do every week. Like on Sundays, people go to mass and then after they go and eat cake and just take the day to not do anything. Then, I find here in America that on Sundays, some people do go to mass but then they fill their day with other things. They don’t really take the time to relax and just kind of take time to breathe. It’s not necessarily carefree but, there are a lot of things in Germany that you would never see happen here in the United States. Not because it was bad things but they’re just chill people. They’re very clean–that’s definitely one of the things I noticed. It was all good experiences in Germany and I never had anything that I was negative about.
B: Did you go anywhere else while you were in Europe?
F: My mom’s parents were born and raised in Ireland and so both of them still have family still there. So, we would travel to Ireland to see my mom’s family. We’ve been to England; Scotland; Spain; France; Italy; Austria–all of those places. Anywhere that was near Germany that was drivable we went to and then we obviously flew to Spain. But, through all of those places I’ve been it’s kind of helped me grow as a person because it’s taught me to be more diverse. Being from the military, you grew up diverse. Diversity was a big part of the military. Especially just going to other countries you just learn more and more as you get older. As you experience different cultures you’re just like, ‘Wow. This is great.’ And you just kind of try to take it all in because you don’t realize that you might not ever go back to Europe. It’s just one of those things where when I was there I didn’t necessarily take it for granted but, as I look back on it, I wish could spend more time there. I wish I could just go back and and take it in more and just kind of enjoy it more.
B: So you had mentioned you had done some soul searching last summer. What is some advice or what was your process that you could give to other students who are feeling the same way about changing majors?
F: Well, I also changed schools and I was in Chicago last year for my first year of college. I guess I just had to be honest with myself and realize that it’s ok not to have everything figured out when you start college. Because I feel like I went into college saying, ‘Yes, I’m going to get a business degree and spend four years working in the city of Chicago and everything is going to work out.’ Then, I finally realized when I wasn’t happy that’s when I had to take a step back and be honest with myself and say, ‘What’s the best thing for me to do and where do I see myself being happier in the next four years or the next five years or the next six year?’ As much as you try not to look ahead because you want to experience the moment, you kind of have to. You have to realize that when you want to make changes you have to be able to commit to the changes and change with it. Then accept all of the positive and negatives things with those changes. Like I left the place I thought I’d be staying at for the rest of my life and I came here to Texas. I’m not from Texas and it’s very new to me. But I had to do because I realized if I want to do the things I want to do in my life and feel like I can do them, I have to really commit to them. Honestly, just be honest with yourself and realize you’re not happy in a situation or you’re not wanting to do something. You need to change unless you might look back and be like, ‘Oh, I should’ve changed my major after my first year.’ Then you’re here three years later and you’re like it’s too late to change so.
B: Is there anybody that specifically helped you with the process or someone that you look up to?
F: Definitely my parents–they’ve always been there for me throughout the years. I remember we were sitting at the kitchen table and my Dad’s like, ‘You know you have options. You can go back to Loyola for a year, see if you like it and then change after a year. You can come home and live at home in San Antonio.’ At first I was like I don’t really want to but he said I had options and they weren’t going to force me into something I didn’t want to do and that they would support me. As soon as they said that, the first thing out of my mouth was, ‘I’m so relieved.’ Because I was like there are options for me. I can actually do different things. I’m not confined to what I chose at the beginning of my college experience. So after that they were even like, ‘Even if you want to stop for a semester and you kind of just want to figure out your life then that’s fine.’ But I knew I had to continue my education and stay in school. So, I stayed in school. I transferred to the community college at my house in San Antonio and then I went there for a semester. I got my life back on track and now here I am at Texas State. Honestly, all of the people I have met here have been great. Had I stayed at Loyola, I’m not saying I would’ve been unhappy but, I would’ve known what else was out there in the world.
B: So what are some things that you are involved with here?
F: Wisdom (Our Lady of Wisdom University Parish); I’m involved in SPO (Saint Paul’s Outreach) but I’m not in households or anything but, I hang out with a lot of the SPO people. I sing at mass. Since it is my first semester here, I haven’t really been able to just go out and find other clubs. But where I’m at right now, I’m comfortable. I don’t feel like I need to find anything else. Obviously, it would be nice to do more things that are with my major or things that I like to do. But I’m content right now. I’m not pushing to change it.
B: What are some other things that you like to do outside of church and school?
F: Well, I like to hike. Hiking is fun and I have a big thing planned for this summer because I’m going home–home being Chicago. So, I’m probably going to go hiking around there and here I know we have Enchanted Rock or something and that’s somewhere I’d like to go. I love to bake. Fun fact: I almost went to culinary school. But, because I realized culinary would’ve turned into a job and I like it more as like a pleasure. I like it more as something that I like to do for fun and if it turned into something I didn’t like to do, then I probably wouldn’t do it anymore. I run–I ran cross country for six years. I like music and listen to it a lot. I just like the basic things.
B: So for teaching, do you want to stay in Texas or do you want to go back to Chicago?
F: Right now, I’m not sure because it would definitely have to not necessarily where would benefit me most but, what will help me with a stable career. Stability is a big thing. If it is a job here in Texas, I’ll take the job here in Texas. If I find it in another state, I’ll go to another state. There’s really nothing I’m restricting myself from. I’m kind of just letting it all happen.