Discover your passion, pursue your dreams
By Marshall Uhlig
My name is Marshall Uhlig, and I’m a career counselor at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA). I, like you, was once a high school student about to graduate. So I know what it feels like to be stressed about figuring out what to do with your life after graduation.
But I can tell you that you can do or be anything. Don’t limit yourself!
In 2006, I graduated with my high school diploma from Poth High School with zero job prospects and zero plans to go to college. I didn’t know what I was doing.
I was working part-time jobs and knew I wanted to get out of small-town life, at least for a little bit. So I moved to San Antonio on a whim with a buddy. I figured I might as well go to community college while in the big city. So I went to Northeast Lakeview College for a year, where I discovered my passion for psychology. I then transferred to UTSA, the school I couldn’t even get into after graduating from high school.
I founded two “psych” clubs while in my undergraduate studies, as well as being a leader in Christian organizations on campus. I did all this while working part time. I worked closely with the faculty there, who helped me broaden my horizons by suggesting I pursue a graduate degree in counseling. After talking to a career counselor at the Career Center -- the office where I now work -- I confirmed that would be a wise choice.
I decided to get my master’s degree in counseling from UTSA. During that time, I realized I’d like to help students like myself, students who needed help discovering their passion. So one might say my passion is to help UTSA students discover their individual passions.
You may be thinking, “Well, that’s all fine and dandy for you, but what about the rest of us who don’t know what we want to do?” Well, it took me working various positions, and a lot of soul-searching, to arrive where I am now. It was anything but linear.
I started with the idea that I knew I wanted to help people. That was my foundation. But in what capacity? As we all know, there are a million ways to help people -- selling clothes, bagging groceries, serving food, all of which I did in odd jobs during and after high school. No, I wanted to help people in a different way, using my God-given gifts.
For some it can take a lifetime, for others a few years to find their niche in this life. I was fortunate to find mine early on. It all started with a vision. Then it took a lot of encouragement from people along the way who told me to press on.
Finally, it was up to me to make a choice. A bad career choice is always better than no career choice, because it means you’re experimenting, trying things out, narrowing your focus. Never stop evolving your career path. It’s a process, not a destination. Never stop learning. Some of the greatest things I ever learned didn’t happen in a classroom.
Never give up on your passion. It’s not a career that defines someone’s life; it’s their passion. Whatever that looks like for you, only you can discover.
I’ve now been living in San Antonio since I left Poth in 2006. I wasn’t the valedictorian; I wasn’t student body president; I wasn’t even one of the kids people thought would go to college, but I did. Knowing what I know now, I see I was at a huge disadvantage coming from a small town with zero preparation for college. I learned everything on the fly as I went.
I’m not suggesting every small-town kid should go to college; I’m simply saying you can achieve more than you ever dreamed of. Don’t let others limit your aspirations, and -- more importantly -- don’t sell yourself short.
Take initiative. If you want something different for yourself from what you have now, it can be yours.
Marshall Uhlig is a Poth High School graduate pursuing his passion at the University of Texas at San Antonio.