I sincerely hope that isn’t true, because this old dog is about to try her hand at a whole new array of skills and ideas.
Ok, enough with that metaphor.
I’m going back to graduate school, full-time, come August.
Again? Some more?
Yes. I’ll be earning my master’s degree in speech pathology.
I realized with something of a jolt recently that, barring un-foreseen circumstances, I am surely at or past the mid-point of my life.
Yet, I don’t think there is a clear definition or image of “middle age” anymore.
At a time when many my age are sending their children off to college, I have one who just turned 7 and another just a few months shy of 3.
At a time when many my age are planning toward retirement, I am trying to figure out how to pay for college (so that I can, maybe, retire later on).
If I am an “older” mother, why not become an “older” student? Kind of like having children later in life — it’s now or never.
It’s not as haphazard as it sounds. I’ve read that people often change careers as many as seven times in their life. I am looking at two.
I started work at The Jackson Herald 17 years ago this month — right about now, in fact — after a friend and I returned from a two-week driving trip to Maine. I was freshly out of graduate school and had some pieces of paper from the University of Georgia and Clemson University that said I knew something about something.
What I didn’t know was how much I had to learn.
Yeah, I could do school and I’d had jobs and assistantships, but I didn’t know much about the world of a weekly newspaper.
That first day of work, 5 o’clock rolled around and people were still at their desks. Wasn’t anyone going home? And how could I go home if I still had all this copy to type and photos to scan? I couldn’t.
Those early days, I realized that “news sense” was something I needed to learn, that a meeting story isn’t minutes, point by point, in chronological order.
I realized that a lot of people have a grave misconception about weekly newspapers — that the people who work at one must just do the bulk of their work one day a week. Um, no. The small staff wears many hats and begins the work for the next edition as soon as the current one goes to press.
It’s been a lot of work and there were a lot of late nights when I was full-time, pre-children. And in many respects it has been very satisfying — a publication each week you had a hand in producing.
And then on to the next one, new week, new stories — a chronicle of the community.
In 17 years, not only did my work experience go through many changes, my personal life did, too. I went from just out of school to at mid-point and married to a man I plan to grow old with (are we there yet?) and with whom I have two children.
I’ve met a lot of interesting people, I’ve heard a lot of interesting stories and I’ve helped to put together somewhere around 850 newspaper editions. I’ve made really good friends here. I will miss seeing them each week, but I know we will stay in touch after I leave the office later this summer.
I’ve learned a lot about myself.
This job has pulled a lot out of me, and that’s a good thing.
Now for something new and completely different.
A second career down the road.
I look forward to seeing what that brings.
Jana Adams Mitcham is features editor of The Jackson Herald and a Madison County resident.
Good luck with this new venture . Your new chosen career field is a lucrative one. I have a cousin in another State who is a speech pathologist. Often folks of a great age return to finish college and graduate now so I think old dogs do learn new tricks.
I will miss your sensitive insights here, Mrs. Mitcham. Good luck with your new career. There's plenty of folks out there writing their thoughts, including me, that can fill up the print and online world, but not so many folks who will make the effort to actually reach out and help others like you will be doing. Good choice!