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A Letter to My Pre-ACE Self

Thursday, November 03, 2016 by Maeve Mulholland - ACE 22, Sacramento


Dear Maeve-before-ACE,

You’re feeling pretty good about yourself, aren’t you? You have just graduated from Williams College, a prestigious school, where you were captain of the lacrosse team and were surrounded by tons of super smart people. You have “suffered” through eight-hour stints at the library, written several 15-page papers, and done this all while maintaining a decent social life and enjoying your college experience. You figure you know yourself pretty well at this point. You are hardworking, motivated, and certain that you know how to handle a challenge. Next year you’ll start at Our Lady of Grace as the third-grade teacher. You’re sort of nervous to be moving across the country to live with people you barely know. The teaching part–that’ll be difficult–but, as I said, you’re a hardworking, motivated person, right? Surely you’ll figure it out. You know yourself pretty well, after all.

I hate to burst your bubble, Maeve, but you really don’t know yourself very well at all. On the Tuesday after your second week of teaching, you will walk to your car in the parking lot. It will be getting dark, because it’s about six o’clock and you’ve been scrambling to plan for tomorrow (and by the way, you’re not done yet). Your head will be pounding, you’ll feel like you haven’t slept in days, and you will convince yourself that Ayden will have gone home having learned absolutely nothing from you all day. You’ll drive out of the gates of OLG to head home, but you’ll find yourself pulling over. You will turn off the radio and you’ll just sit there.

"You will feel a sense of pride that you know will remain unmatched for the rest of your life."

You’ll sit there and question everything about yourself. It’s almost like you’re paralyzed. Here’s what will go through your head: What do you think you’re doing here? Was I in some sort of confused state when I applied to do this? Williams prepared you for nothing. If I can’t get through this how am I expected to be successful at anything else? Shortly after, you will burst into tears (for the second time this week) and you’ll call your mom (as usual).

Take a deep breath, though, because a year later, you will be starting your second year at OLG. You will have changed immensely. You will feel a sense of pride that you know will remain unmatched for the rest of your life. You will look back and realize that despite the exhaustion, the tears, and the many calls home to Mom, you will have found joy in every day that you decided to drive through the gates at OLG. In fact, you’ll be thinking forward to the end of the year, wondering how you’ll ever leave the 54 students that taught you more than any professor at Williams ever did. You'll wonder-how do I ever explain to eight- and nine-year-olds that they changed my lifein more ways than they can count?

You will transform. You’ll finally know yourself.

Interested in learning more about how you can transform yourself through ACE Teaching Fellows? Visit ace.nd.edu/teach for more information!