We give birth to our children, raise them through tears, tantrums and joy, get them to high school....and then expect that they will head off to college. It's what they're supposed to do. But what happens if that's not the right path for them?
Let me tell you a story about finding your passion.
My nineteen year old is an amazing young man. He is mature, kind, thoughtful, and has a great work ethic. We're so proud of him and the choices he has made. But just a few years ago, we had no idea where his future was heading.
School has always been challenging for C. His grades were good, but he had to study harder than everyone else to get them. My husband calls him a "grinder". Even in kindergarten we could tell that math was especially difficult for him. It was like C was learning a foreign language. However, with his hard work (and the help of some great tutors), he maintained a 3.5 GPA through high school.
At the beginning of his junior year, we started to think that maybe traditional college wasn't for him. This was hard to admit - my hubby and I both have college degrees, and we assumed our boys would go the same route. But C had no idea what he wanted to do, and he didn't really enjoy going to school (well, except for the sports and the girls).
So one evening we sat him down and asked him what his passion was. We thought we knew the answer, and apparently so did he, because he immediately said "cars". Ever since he was a baby, C has been enthralled with cars. Engineering, performance, styling, everything. I still have over 500 Hot Wheels from his childhood, and he played with and could name every one.
We talked some more, and C expressed that he might like to work with cars - high performance cars in particular. Ferrari has always been his favorite, and he never misses a Formula One race. But having a love for cars and actually working on them can be two very different things.
Fortunately, C's high school had an auto technology program, and he enrolled his senior year. On the first day he came home and said, "Mom, I've found my people". That was a great moment.
The biggest surprise came several months later when he told us that he had taken the initiative to contact the local Ferrari dealership and talk to their service manager. C is a great kid, but he's not known for stepping outside his comfort zone. When they met for coffee, the manager was so impressed with C's passion, he offered to become his mentor.
Passion and a willingness to think outside the box - and a bright future was born.
In order for C to work for Ferrari someday, there are a lot of things he needs to do first. His mentor recommended a highly respected auto technology program at a local community college. The program has limited enrollment, so in order to be accepted, C had to secure a job working in the auto industry first. Because they most closely resemble the Ferrari model, his mentor suggested Toyota.
Last year, a month before graduation, C researched the best Toyota dealership in the area, applied for a job, and was working full time by June. He has spent the last year learning the basics, and every day he comes home with a smile on his face.
This past Monday C started the T-Ten Program at the community college, and will attend for two years while still working at his dealership. We could not be more proud of him.
After he graduates and gets several more years of work experience, he can finally apply to Ferrari. Once hired, he will be sent to Italy to attend their training program for two more years. Beyond that...well, I'd say the sky's the limit.
At the young age of nineteen, my son recognized his passion, and he's on his own path to make it become his life's work. He may not have headed off to university like many of his friends, but he's happy and we know he will be successful.
And that's all any parent could want.
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