Here’s a story common to so many people: a personality in one’s life actively provides useful advice bringing success, or at least steers one away from a career debacle…
Part One: Trig Class
"Have you heard from Illinois?" It was Bob Hall’s raspy whisper during his own senior level trigonometry class.
"I haven’t applied yet."
"Really???" His eyebrows ruffled as they always did when he sensed trouble. "Leave now, go see Arnott, I think the deadline is real soon."
"Arnott" was Pete Arnott, the school guidance counselor, excluding “guidance” and “counselor.” Too many years with no real accountability had atrophied away whatever elements of "guidance" and "counselor" had ever existed. His windowless office was a numbing array of paper, skyscrapers of them actually. A cozy hideaway, sitting in neutral for years.
"Why hi Abe, what brings you here?" He was a nice enough guy. I explained Hall’s concern.
"Hmmm, I don’t know, let me see what that date is." He proceeded to scan his desk and other furniture – – a paper topography akin to the chaotic favelas of Rio, a completely discombobulated array of info.
"Actually, I will call over to Carbondale, that may be faster." Read: let me lean on someone who actually knows.
"Hi Trudy, this is Pete from over at Murphy High. Say when is the application deadline for U of I?…. Oh… OOOHHH… Okay, well we’ll get right to it."
Then, calmly looking up, he smiled, "She said its due tomorrow Abe, so that’s good, we have a whole day."
Welcome to college counseling, Pete Arnott style. "Oh look, here’s one of the applications, so we won’t have to drive over to Trudy’s office." Pete was simply glowing.
Part Two: What’s My Major?
That night, I completed the entire application, except for choosing my major – – a page with a dizzying array of checkboxes. Again, a topic I had not pondered and nor had anyone really broached with me. Just then my mom stuck her head into my room, "Santhosh, Dr. Menon is on the phone. Come and say hello." What luck. We only speak with my dad’s good friend about once a year, and today was one of those instances. He had a PhD in Chemistry and was a walking encyclopedia.
Dr. Menon peppered me with questions such as, "How is high school? Are you excited about being a senior" I shared my current quandary.
"Don’t worry, just check off Computer Engineering, Electrical Engineering, or Computer Science. Computers are going to be a big thing. You certainly won’t go wrong."
In a mere 6 hours, the path forward was crystalized. If Bob Hall and Dr. Menon had not interceded, and on that specific day, my destination would have been wildly different.