Choosing a career path should never be taken lightly.

Senior, Elementary Education major, Abby Chaplin knows how important selecting a degree and career path can be, and she encourages current students to try lots of different paths as an underclassman.

"Take every opportunity you have while you're in school to explore different career paths and shadow jobs that you might be interested in," states Chaplin. "Remember it's your life and no one else's. Choose a career path that you are passionate about, no one else, because they aren't going to be the one working in this career for the rest of their life; you are." 

Abby's journey to becoming an education major was longer than most, but she wouldn't have it any other way. 

"I changed my major seven times. I couldn't decide what I wanted to do. I always knew I wanted to be a teacher, but I couldn't decide because of some outside pressure from family," says Chaplin. "One day, I decided to talk to an advisor, and she noticed how passionate I was about teaching. She helped me realized what I had always known and encouraged me to try it out. I changed my major to education for the seventh and final time, and I haven't looked back."

As soon as she entered the School of Education, Abby felt welcomed by her elementary education professors. They pushed her to get involved and eventually helped her find a passion for leadership.

"A professor recognized that I had leadership ability, and she helped me find a way to get involved," states Abby. "This professor was by my side every step of the way. Helping me navigate my schedule and coaching me whenever I was feeling stressed or overwhelmed, reminding me that I could do it."

Abby serves as the current president of the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) Student Edition at UAB. Throughout her time at the School, Abby has really enjoyed how easy it was for her to build relationships with her fellow students and faculty members.

"SOE classes are much smaller than most, and it helps to make you feel connected to your fellow students and faculty," says Chaplin. "Each class feels like a family from the beginning. When I came to the School, I felt like I had finally found what I was looking for - a tight-knit community rooting for each other.

To students that are unsure about their current degree pathway or aren't sure what to do to find a career they're passionate about, Abby has some advice to share:

"My only advice is to talk to an advisor. It doesn't matter if it's an advisor you have a relationship with or someone from a completely different school; they will be able to help you. Advisors can give you career tests, set up shadowing opportunities, and so much more, use them! My advisor was a huge advocate for me and helped me realize my dream career path that I absolutely love."

Abby will graduate this Spring feeling confident with her decision to become a teacher and ready to tackle her career as an educator. She's looking forward to getting her hands dirty in the classroom by putting to work all the skills she's learned from her professors.

If you're interested in learning how you can get involved within the School of Education or would like to talk to an advisor today, click here!