The “Right” Path by Jessica Terrones

Jessica Terrones ’22 shares her major motivation to study education: her parents! As a senior, she is excited about her student-teaching experience, but like with any new experience, feelings of nervousness and anxiety also emerge. She shares advice on how to overcome imposter syndrome and reminds us that we are capable of doing anything we set our minds to.

If you’re like me, you’ve probably stayed up past 2 am attempting to check off as many assignments from your to-do list or spent the night cramming for a Euclidean Geometry exam. The more time passes, the more I sit and reflect on everything I’ve done at NC State and my hopes for the future.

One of the topics that I constantly question and think about is my decision to go into education. As I approach my student-teaching experience, there’s a mixture of excitement and anxiety. I’m excited to be in the classroom and work with students in person, but a part of me can’t help but question if I’m good enough or if I will ever be good enough to be the teacher my students deserve. We’re always told about experiencing and overcoming imposter syndrome during our freshman year of college, but I don’t think I’ve ever felt it more as a senior.

Whenever I encounter these feelings, I always remember why I chose to study education. For many future teachers, it’s that little lightbulb moment students have as they tackle a math problem they’ve been stuck on for the past ten minutes, but for me, it goes a little deeper and more personal than that. I chose to pursue education because of my parents. My parents had to drop out of school at around a 6th and 9th grade level in their home country due to familial and financial obligations. Although their schooling was limited, that never stopped them from sitting at the kitchen table to lend their fingers for me to count to complete my math homework. As much as I enjoyed our moments together, there came a time when I no longer needed my mom’s fingers, and my parents could no longer help me. Not because they didn’t want to, but because they never got a chance to learn it themselves. From an outsider’s perspective, they may seem like an uninvolved parent who does not care about my schooling or well-being, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Even now in college, my mom will patiently listen as I rant about the lesson I planned or pack tamales for me to take back to my apartment. It’s the unspoken gestures that have gotten me to where I am today. My experience is just one of many students whose parents may not sit down and explain the quadratic formula or volunteer at the PTO. They may have never been physically involved within the school. Still, they have always kept an ear and eye out to listen, so if I can have my students excited to share one thing they’ve learned in my classroom with their parents, it will make it all worthwhile those restless nights filled with doubt checking off assignments.

It’s normal to have some doubts and question whether we made the “right” choice in major or decisions as we navigate the college experience. At the end of the day, we have to remind ourselves why we chose to follow this path and that we are more than capable of accomplishing whatever we desire. More people are rooting for you than you realize.