Unorthodox careers: how EHS students and alumni turned their dreams into reality


Graphic courtesy of Canva.

This previously ran in our April 2022 print issue.

“Do what you love!” “Don’t you want to eat?” “Are you sure this is what you want to do for the rest of your life?” 

Doubtful echoes and questions plague high school students from the time they first create a Naviance account and begin to think about future careers. The pressure is on for students to narrow down their interests and choose a path that will lead them to their life-long careers; even if it’s not going to fulfill their happiness. According to Pew Research, as of 2017 only 17% of Americans found that their career produced any meaning in their life versus the Italian 59%, which is the highest in the world. In American society, oftentimes the happiness that a job could provide comes second to the need for a large salary. Chasing the American dream is put on hold for this reason, and has left many stuck in a career they do not love. 

Sophomore Paige Seay has already found a path that she is passionate about in environmental science. She wants to go to college somewhere in-state and major in environmental science, and take on a minor in business to fulfill her dreams of giving back to the Earth. 

“I just really like helping out the environment and doing what I can to be able to help prevent different fossil fuels [from being used],” Seay said. “With air pollution, water pollution, the soil, all of that different stuff… it’s really bad, and I just want to be able to help out with that and make my impact.” 

One of the hurdles students face is striking a balance between a steady income and a career to love. Senior Ryan Everleth has been trying to work out what exactly he wants to pursue in his future and has tried to weigh practicality with passion. 

Planning to attend Arcadia University next year as an English or creative writing major with a possible minor in German, Everleth opted to choose a major that he enjoys, and work out a career at a later time. 

“I enjoyed writing stories since elementary school. [Writing is] one thing that I think I could really see myself doing for the rest of my life,” Everleth said. “I know everyone always says English is a useless thing to do, so I’m a little worried… It’s not like I’m going to be committed to writing books and living on the street because nobody wants to buy them. So, I have options, but they might not be as good as being an engineer.” 

The decision to even attend college has been a question for many, as ECMC Group, a nonprofit aimed toward helping students with access to education, found that there has been a nearly 20% decrease in the number of students who choose to enroll in a four year university. Even if students decide to enroll in college, according to Frank Financial Services, 80% of students in 2021 decided to switch majors, whether it was due to a lack of interest, opportunities, or understanding of the material. This has led to a record number of applicants for the fall 2022 application cycle, rippling down to affect the high school class of 2022. 

In a school as large as Emmaus, there’s a myriad of different interests within the student body, and many kids are in different stages of planning for their futures. 

Junior Abby Burnett plans on attending the University of Michigan to study biology, a subject that will put her on track to achieve her goal of becoming a veterinarian. Along the way she has used an academic advisor provided from her field hockey team to hone in what she aims to pursue. 

Overall, Burnett wants her career to be something she could get up and go to every day, so she would not be stuck doing something she does not enjoy for the rest of her life. 

“I would just say to do what you love,” Burnett said. “If you continue to do that, then you’ll find what you want to do in the future.”