Brian is 22, a solidly built, muscled young man who did the interview at my home office.  He seemed a bit ill at ease at the outset, but soon moved into a thoughtful consideration of the larger questions, not just telling his story.  E.g., the stress of choosing post-sec, colleges banking on anticipated drop outs, urban culture shock.  His parents are university educated entrepreneurs.  We had a few detours into off-the-record conversations, some of which were later added into the narrative in an abbreviated form.  His story is one of not quite completing his diploma in architecture, returning home to a series of ‘junk jobs’ while he acquired the missing credits, paying down his student debt while re-thinking whether he’s in the right field and considering other options; alternately, the importance of continuing parental support so that things not working out as you planned does not comprise a disaster in life.  Sam, a high school classmate, whose story is in some ways parallel but less successful, was also a participant in the research.

FM: Let’s start with you saying a bit about where you were raised, who was in your family, what they did for a living, etc…

I was born in Middletown but raised near a small village.  My parents went to university together in Middletown and then they took over my grandfather’s business, which was a campground near the village.  Which later became a KOA which is a fairly large organization so it was a big booming place.  They were there for 23 years.  They had my sister and I both when they were there.  My sister is 4 ½ years older than me.  I was raised there – we moved just after grade 9, I was13 I guess, to Lakeville.  Once we moved here, my sister was going to college in Middletown, so it was just my folks and me for a few years.

When I finished high school I went to college in Ottawa and took Architecture.  I studied for the winters, came back for the summers.  Did that for 3 years.  After that, I’ve been working in Littletown and living in Riverville. 

FM: So what do your parents in Cottage County?

They own a motel and campground.  It was mostly a motel when we moved in but now it’s a fairly large campground as well. 

FM: And does a year-round business? 

Mostly summer with the camping.  We try our best to get snowmobile business as well. 

FM: And you graduated last spring? 

I’m actually in the process of graduating, still.  Should be done now, hopefully.  Basically, I failed a couple of courses so I had to go back and take them.

FM: And have you been doing that by distance education? 

This fall I’ve been driving from Littletown to Ottawa for classes [a 2-hour drive].  But I’m done now and hopefully don’t have to go back. 

FM: And are you working in your field of study?

No.  Right now I’m just working at a grass-seed plant in Littletown.  I’ve had a few jobs since I came back, actually.  I started last fall in a call centre, doing telemarketing.  Then I went to the grass-seed plant for 2 months.  And then I moved to an upholstery shop and did that for 5 months.  And then I went back to the grass seed plant just last week.

FM: So none has anything to do with what you studied?

No.  I’m really back and forth with trying to decide what I’m going to do with the degree.  It’s difficult to get a job in the field before you have the diploma.  Particularly in that field.  Mostly for insurance purposes.  When you’re working on building plans, they have to be sure you know how to do them, so most firms want to be sure you have the qualification.  Technically, I don’t have the qualifications, the paper.  If I don’t have the paper…

FM: They’re not going to hire you?

It’s difficult for them.  It’s usually better for them not to.

FM:  I’m not very familiar with this field.  What kind of work are you qualified to do and what is the need for workers in the field, the match between what’s needed and what’s available?

As far as what I’m qualified, I’m qualified to – usually what people do is work in an architectural firm.  You start at the bottom.  Like I’m qualified to use modeling software.  There’s two main ones we use, a 2-dimension and a 3D.  I’ve also learned about building materials, how to use and manipulate the building codes, which is fairly extensive.  So I mean if I was starting out in the field, you’d just start at the bottom and work your way up. 

From a college diploma point of view, it’s pretty hard to be the head guy in a firm, but you can definitely do better than the bottom. 

FM: Was your plan to live urban to practice your field?

The reason why I chose Ottawa was because of a girl.  We were together in high school.  I applied to several different schools and I didn’t really care which one I took.  Because she was going to university, she wanted to choose the school that was best for her.  In a college it’s not really as important what school you go to, or I didn’t think so.  It turned out my school was one of the best to go to. 

As far as my plan to stay – my plan was to stay in Ottawa.  Once I got there, I really enjoyed being there.  So I planned to stay in the area.  The reason that I’m back here – because I had failed the courses that I needed, I struggled to get a job there.  And then the girl left the picture and that was kinda the deciding point.  I didn’t really know where else to go so I ended back up in my folk’s place. 

FM: And now that you have the qualifications, there are different options available to you?

Right.  What I’m looking into right now is if I want to stay in my field I would have to move to a city again.  Around here, there are [a few] places you can work but the choices are pretty minimal.  And it has a lot to do with timing.  Not a lot of people in my field are hiring unless they’re losing somebody.  I found that when I went to Lindsay.  I tried to get a job in a firm and the guy told me that one of their employees was leaving for military college, and he wasn’t sure when he was going, he’d let me know.  And [eventually] he found out he wasn’t leaving after all.  And other than that, any of the other places I tried just told me they weren’t hiring.  It’s important to understand that in architecture, particularly in a small area like this, most firms are maybe 6 to 8 people.  Even -- I did a placement in a firm in Ottawa and I think they were 20 people, maybe not even than that, so even in the city it’s hard to find a big firm, unless you go to Toronto, something like that. 

FM: And would you prefer to be in a big firm, or is that just where its most likely that will be an opening?

Yeah, to get started, it’s best to get started in a big firm, get a portfolio, and sort of build a reputation of some sort.  That would be the time, after that, that would be the time to move on if you wanted to.  I’d prefer to be in a more rural area than downtown Toronto. 

FM: So in the short run, in your profession, it’s about working for a firm with a good reputation that allows you to build a credible base.

Yeah, just some work experience.  If you’re looking to move to a smaller firm that’s only hiring every several years, it would be nice to be the person with the most experience.  It certainly helps, anyways.

FM: And how many openings are there generally?  A lot or only a few, in those firms?

I don’t really know.  I’ve never really looked into it that much.  They told me when I started school they had a 95% employment rate out of my course, so I would assume pretty good.

FM: And did your most of your classmates luck into jobs? 

I’m not sure, to be honest.  There was only about 30 of us left from 150 of us that started, which is perfectly normal for that course.  I haven’t really stayed in touch with a lot of them.  I know a couple of them moved back to where they were and are working in the field.  One guy went back to his dad’s firm – his father owns a [business] – not really in our field because they build wood frame trusses.  Other than that, I don’t really know.

FM: There’s been a bit of a revelation lately that the employment numbers [that colleges report] are not necessarily in the field for which the person has trained.  A job at Starbucks counts as employed. 

That’s true, I suppose.  Another thing is they tell you 95%, but 95% of 30 is not really a lot – I don’t know how they work it exactly. 

FM: That’s a huge drop-out rate.  Why?

I think it’s common with a lot of college course, not just this one.  But what they told us when we started with about 150 was that by the end of the first year it would be cut in half.  I think a lot of times people get through the first semester or first year and realize it’s not what they wanted, they don’t enjoy the work or whatever.  I know we had a few kids that didn’t really know what they wanted to do but they had to pick something, but once they get there they realize that’s not what they want.

FM: How did you pick the field?

I knew from a fairly young age that I wanted some involvement with building, and then it became after some while that I wanted to be on the design side of it.  I’m not really sure how it came to me, I just always enjoyed – anytime I saw building plans or something, I just got excited about it.

FM: Did you work in that area as a high school student? 

No.  I worked when I was in high school, at the movie theatre in [a nearby village].  That was an interesting experience...

FM:  Was the counselling department at the high school at all helpful – in choosing a field, or a school?

I’ve been back and forth on that.  I think in a lot of cases, for a lot of students, it’s not very helpful.  In my case, because I kinda had an idea where I was going, I didn’t need as much help as some others.  So the extent of my help in the area was how to apply, what schools to apply to and what courses specifically. 

FM: And you think you chose well, in spite of not having the school be the major factor

Yeah.  Like I said, right now I’m kinda not so sure what I’m doing with it but I’m glad that’s what I chose.  I enjoyed it for the most part. 

FM: And the failed classes, was that a downer?


FM: Like did it turn you off the profession at all?

I think for a while because I was confused as to why I had failed, thought maybe because it was because I wasn’t interested any more.  But there were other things going on that played a big factor in it.  The one [class] that I was working on right now to pass, the first time I took it was with a group and we just didn’t get along.  Mostly my fault, but things could have been different if I’d been with different people.  It was a group of friends and we hung out all the time and we thought it was best to work together but it didn’t work out that way. 

FM: And you had your heart broken in the middle of things.

Yeah.  That was after the courses had been failed but definitely things were rough while I was in school.

FM: And the fact that your colleagues were also your buddies maybe meant that what was happening in your personal life got more mixed up with school life than it might otherwise have. 

I guess so.  I didn’t talk with them much about it, but they definitely knew that something was going on.  I tried to not let it affect things, as much as I could. 

FM: But in any case, a regrouping was in order, both personally and professionally. 


FM: And the commute [from home] to Littletown is about an hour each way; how is that?

I don’t mind it as much as -- people always say, oh my god, you drive that far.  But it’s not as bad as it could be.

FM: Actually, some Torontonians would tell you that’s under the norm, for the GTA.

I thought about that the other day, actually. When I drive an hour, I do it somewheres between 80 and 90 kph rather than sitting in stop and go traffic.  It’s not as bad as it could be.  I think if it takes you an hour to get to work, it takes you an hour, but I think if you’re sitting in traffic for an hour and not moving, I think it’s more a mental strain on you than just straight driving. 

FM: Did you make half decent pay in the Littletown jobs?

No, minimum wage mostly. 

FM: So to get a job in your field, you’d have to further afield than Littletown.  Than Middletown? 

I didn’t do too much looking in Middletown.  I looked in Littletown and then I just  - I wasn’t sure if my field was what I wanted anyways, so I just decided to get a job and make some money.  Littletown just happened to be the closest place I could get a job. 

FM: I know, wanted to ask about your living arrangements when you went to college.  Res? 

I lived in res for the first year. 

FM: And then room-mates? 

No, my girlfriend.  We both lived in res for the first year and near the end of the first year, I was spending more time in traffic across the city, travelling from her place to get to my classes.  So then we decided – at that point we’d been together for about 3 years – so we decided to just live together.  So we lived in 3 different places together.  I actually, after my second year, I stayed in Ottawa for the summer.  So we lived in a place for the second year of school, and then another place for the summer, and then for my third year we lived in a place we had a one-year lease on. 

FM: Nice enough places? 

Yeah.  We found that in order to get a good place in our price range that wasn’t too horrible we had to go quite far from our schools.  But we also went to 2 different schools that were on either side of the city, so it wasn’t actually too bad to find someplace in between.

FM: Did you both have vehicles?

Neither of us.  I just got the car last year after moving home.     

FM: So we’ve sort of covered education, housing—lemme ask you how you find moving back home at 21, 22, how is that for you?

It’s actually been a lot better than I thought it would be. When I first moved back, I just wanted to be there as little as possible and get out of there as soon as possible.  But with my parents being so busy there, I was actually able to help them a lot and I actually developed a stronger relationship with my parents than I ever have. 

Last fall, I broke my hand so I spent 9 weeks with a cast on.  But after that, my dad and I started going to the gym together, went snowmobiling together.  I think we had a better relationship – spent more time together – than we ever had.  So it’s actually been better than I could have expected it. 

FM: So no feeling that they’re waiting anxiously for you to ‘launch”? 

I think they are, but they are also very supportive.  They know that eventually I’m going to leave, I just need to be absolutely prepared to do that.  They’ve been very supportive.

FM: Have you got a fair bit of student debt? 

I don’t have as much as I did.  I started with over $12,000, but luckily I have grandparents – my grandfather, when my sister was born, he started buying Bell stocks, so by the time I graduated school, he was able to knock half of my student loans off.

FM: Lucky guy.

So from there I make monthly payments, just trying to pay what I can toward them to get rid of them.  Which is part of the reason why I’m living where I am.  The way they set it up, I could make very minimal payments and then move without running out of money.  But if I paid it the way they wanted me to, it would take me 10 years to pay it off and most of it would be interest.  So I guess that goes back to my parents being very supportive.  My mom’s always telling me to get the student loans paid off before I start saving to move away. 

FM: Yeah, it makes financial sense, for sure. 

We figured out that my minimum payment is $85 a month and $50 of that actually goes toward paying the loan, and the rest to interest, so it’s really better to pay it off. 

FM: Do you think most students understand that?  Paying it off quickly?

I’m not sure really.  I know that some people definitely do have student loans for a long time.  I think though that the paper work that comes with the loans, it’s so extensive that I can’t believe that most students read it all.  So it’s probably true that most students go with minimum.  I suppose that anyone who had the money would try to put it towards that. 

FM: If you weren’t living at home, could you pay more than the minimum?  Say if you were living in Littletown? 

It would really depend on how much I was paying for rent.  I’ve actually been going through this a bit recently because I’m thinking of moving to Littletown.  And trying to balance it out how much you pay for gas, driving, and how much my rent would be, and basically whatever I have left over at the end of the month I put toward the loan.  So I have thought about that. 

FM: So to clarify, do you pay some rent to your folks?

I do pay, but not as much as I would if I was out on my own. 

FM: Yeah.  Okay, housing, education, employment, what about health and legal involvement.  Anything in either of those sectors that bears on how your story unfolds?

Like I said, I broke my hand so I spent 9 weeks with a cast.  Basically what that did was keep me out of a job for 9 weeks.  But other than that, haven’t really had any problems.  In the spring I was sick for a couple of weeks, but that happens. 

FM: Were you in any danger of depression or being mentally unable to function when you were breaking up with your girlfriend?

Definitely.  I was depressed about that, about my situation, the way things turned out.  I guess at the beginning, I think it’s normal with any breakup, you just feel like How can you go on.  But eventually that goes away and you realize that whatever hole you’re in, you can climb out.  I think what’s important is figuring out how you’re going to approach it, one step at a time, to get back to what you want out of life. 

FM: And when did you break up? 

Last September.

FM: A year and 3 months [ago].

FM: And during that year, you were doing the catch-up course? 

I was already scheduled to take one of the course that fall, and because of my cast and not being able to drive for awhile, and the depression and dealing with the break up, that didn’t happen and I ended up failing the course again. 

FM: How’d you break your arm? 

The break up with my girlfriend and the breakup of my arm were not separate incidents.  I’ve always had – I’ve been pretty good recently handling my anger issues that I have, but breaking up with a girl over the phone after 5 years is pretty rough.  So I thought the desk would break, but I was wrong…  

Actually, it was 3 days after I came home, and I intended to help my dad with a project that he needed my help with.  I wasn’t able to help him as much as I would have liked, but I was able to help in that it was sorta in my field.  He was doing a renovation in a building, so my knowledge was available to him, not my hands.  But once I got the cast off and was able to start using my hand a little more, that’s when we went snowmobiling and I went to the gym and stuff.  And I spent the better part of the year focusing on working with my dad.  And just recently I’ve been trying to work more with my mom, spending more time with my mom.  Because growing up, I was always a lot closer with my mom.  My dad was always busy and I didn’t spent a lot of time with him.  Once I started spending time with him, I really enjoyed it, and I continue to do that.  I think we’re both trying to make up for the last so-many years we haven’t spent time [together]. 

FM: That’s a nice story.  A bad thing that turns into a really unexpected but good thing.

Yeah.  I don’t want to seem like my dad wasn’t around or didn’t have – we didn’t fight or anything, he was just busy a lot of the time.  It wasn’t a bad relationship, just not having a lot of time together.

FM: Yeah, sometimes dads don’t know how to spend time, and it takes something out of the ordinary to kinda create the opportunity, and then they discover they’re kinda good at it, and enjoy it. 

I think when I was younger we didn’t have a lot in common, but now that I’m going to the gym with him, go snowmobiling with him, and he does a lot of work with renovations and building and stuff, so I’m able to help him with that. 

I should mention that still my favourite thing to do is play hockey, and my dad started that and took me to all the practices and games all the time.  So we did have that together. 

FM: But more an emotional connection, now, rather than a practical one?

Yeah.  I think it goes back to me being just so much younger, him not being able to relate to me.  He played hockey when he was young, and then he stopped.  For awhile, just focused on taking me and stuff.  We had that common thing, but just the age difference always came between us, I guess.

FM: Okay.  And when you were in high school, you were a reasonable student, not too much partying?

When I was in school, I didn’t really party that much.  I spent most of my weekends with my girlfriend, a close group of friends, just hanging out and stuff.  Then in the summer, I did a little more partying, but not a lot. 

FM: From a social perspective, aside from your dad, do you have friends who are still here? 

I spend most of my time with mainly one friend that’s here, a guy that I met when I was working at the theatre, so I’ve known him for almost 8 years now and we’re pretty close.  I have another friend from high school that lives here part time but he spends his summers working up north [two hours away].  He’s coming back tomorrow and once he’s back, I’ll spend more time with him as well.  I think it’s kind of difficult when I travel as much, I spend 12 hours a day away from home.  So during the week when I get home, I just want to sit by myself and do my own thing, relax.  So I do things only on the weekends, mostly. 

FM: Okay, I think we may have covered as much as we can the idea of the on-going choice of urban-rural, which is kind of dependent on whether you decide to stay in this field.  if you do, you’ll need to go urban for awhile at least.  If you don’t, then what?

I actually recently been looking into moving our West.  I know that there’s a ton of jobs out there right now.  And if I did that, I’d probably end up in something to do with the oil fields.  I just know that’s the area that’s expanding right now.

FM: But actually I think their economy is so hot that there’s huge pressure in the housing field as well.  And in public services, schools and stuff, to keep up with the increase in the work force.

Yeah it’s definitely – my plan is to go out there initially and get something that’s available.  It it’s in the oil field, that’s fine.  Just get a job and make some good money for some years.  And then if there’s openings in my field or I find another field…  it’s just that it seems like there’s where the jobs are.  I know that there’s a lot of building projects going on right now to keep up, so in my field as it stands, there’s probably lots of jobs.

I also started to think about new directions and my friend that’s coming home tomorrow, he’s considering going out there with me, and we’re considering getting into law enforcement once we get out there. 

FM: What’s he do now?

He’s in training to be a conservation officer, so he works in a provincial park. 

FM: But his work is a bit seasonal, too.

That’s what he’s found is the biggest issue.  He spends most of his time here, actually.  He works in [his field] the summer and works with his dad in the winter, but not a lot. 

FM: Okay I have some finish-up questions – are we there?

I think so.

FM: Okay.   For the people who will read this narrative, so that they will understand it the way you mean it to be understood, what would you say is the Most Important Event that influenced how this narrative is unfolding?

I don’t know… it’s been just a lot of small pieces I guess.  Part of the reason that you may find a lot of people in the situation I’m in is I think people are expected to go off and start their lives at a very young age.  A lot of 18 and 19-year-olds have absolutely no idea of what they want to do.  When it comes my time, I will try to convince any kids I may have to take a year off in between high school and college.  I think a lot of kids really see a drop in their marks and stuff like that in the last year [of high school] because they’re so stressed out with – they’re put on the spot in the last year of school, you have to decide what you want to do with the rest of your life.  It’s a lot of stress to put on a 17-year-old.

I think it’s also important for students to understand that choosing their career path at such a young age, it’s not carved in stone.  You can discover that you don’t like what you chose and change it later.  I think a lot of students are just so focused on finding that one thing they want to do for the rest of their lives. 

FM: But at the same time, the media is all about lifetime learning and no job security, that you have to re-train multiple times over your work life, no gold watch after 25 years with the same firm: why doesn’t that give students a bit of leeway?  As you say, bring home the message that you’re not stuck with the first decision?

I don’t know.  I think – for me it was different because I kinda had an idea what I wanted to do, and now I’m starting to realize it’s possible to change.  I don’t have to do what I went to school to do, not now.  But I’m starting to realize this after choosing a career path and spending 3 years in school.  In a lot of cases it’s probably better if students are allowed to realize that before they go off to school. 

FM: And spend $24,000

Yeah, it’s definitely a lot of money to spend on something you don’t enjoy in the end.  I would also encourage people to go to school even if they’re not dead set on that particular field.  The reason why I say that is my dad took a year off  - mostly he took the year off the make the money to go to school.  And once he was done, he never really used his degree.  He took over a business from his father.  Something that he told me, actually 2 days ago, that getting the degree meant that he knew – being smart enough to get the degree meant he knew he was smart enough to handle anything else in life.  Even though he doesn’t use the degree specifically, he did work very hard to get it and he knows that.

FM: What was the degree in?

He took geography.  And my mom was the same; she has a degree in psychology.  And neither of them really use it, but I know it’s helped both of them at times.  I think my dad uses it just as a driving force, he knows he can handle a lot of things.  And I think my mom uses the psychology to help her as a parent.  She always – I think she always knew what we were thinking all the time, as kids, and she always had the answer.

FM: I’ve been impressed with your mom in terms of how well she knows her clientele, and how that informs her marketing – she’s quite different than many other resort owners I’ve talked to. 

I’ve always been that way, too.  Both my parents have been very good at remembering their customers.  Any repeat customers they have, they know them.  Both my parents are very good at talking to people right off the bat, getting to know people really easily. Things I have been amazed at, my mom will say Mr Smith called today and he’s booking for this weekend, and my dad will just know exactly who she’s talking about.  I have no idea how they keep that straight.  In the business that they’re in, they must see so many names, so many different people, I just can’t imagine how they do that. 

FM: Right.  Well, in my generation, which is a bit older than your parents, it was more or less accepted that the degree didn’t have to be practically useful, but was a foundation for being a better rounded and more thoughtful, analytical, informed sort of person.  But it didn’t train you for a particular job. 

Yeah, what I found, in my experience, I think a lot more people are going the college route which is to train in a specific field.  Because in my program there were several students that came from university first, so they had a degree in architecture, and then went to the college to learn the technical specifics of it.  So I think in that respect a college diploma is very field specific.  But again my parents have stressed with me that even if I don’t want to be in this field, finishing this diploma is very important.  And my dad, especially.  Because he says if nothing else, you and future potential employers know that you can obtain the diploma.

FM: And that you’re not a quitter. 


FM: I think that’s a very important observation, and a good addition to the data, well stated.  Okay, the next question is a judgment question, which you’ve really already touched on.  But to ask it the same as with everybody:  People who read this narrative will form an opinion about how this story will end up, for good or not so good.  What do you think?

Um, I certainly know how to change it now.  But I definitely think that any experiences that I’ve been though and that I will go through will help me become stronger as a person.  I like to think that this is maybe not the worst part of my life, but definitely not a high part.  So if I can get through this, I know I’ll be stronger for it, going forward. 

FM: Right.  Okay, and now two advice questions.  What advice would you give your younger self, whether or not that younger self would take the advice, that would make this narrative unfold better or easier or smoother? 

Um.  I don’t know because in my particular situation it would probably be that your girlfriend is not your most important thing in life.  But for the average student that would have been in my situation, probably, just, I dunno, no matter what happens just keep driving forward.  If you get into a situation where you’re not sure that the field you’re in is what you want to do, it’s not the end of the world.

FM: Can I ask why you think your girlfriend was the centre of the universe for you – it’s not that unusual, actually, that people choose college because of what their boy/girlfriend of the time is choosing. 

I think for me, that was the person that I spent the most time with and had the most fun with and that I trusted the most.  So I think when it came to choices that I made, it was always what’s best for us, not what’s best for me.  They weren’t always bad choices, but sometimes they were.  So.

FM: Um, and actually, as you tell the story, going forward together wasn’t a big departure for what either of you wanted to do.  It wasn’t like one had to sacrifice their plans for the other.  But do you think, if you hadn’t had to leave home and go to the big city where your best friend, who happened to be your girlfriend, was the anchor, the familiar: do you think the relationship might have been less central to that part of your life? 

You mean if I was just staying here?

FM: Well, yes, but city kids don’t have to leave home to go to university or college, so the process of growing up is more attenuated, more gradual.  That’s kind of what I’m getting at. 

I’m not sure.  I guess, girlfriend or not, I kind of figured that I had to go someplace to go to school, so that usually meant leaving home.  I didn’t necessarily have to go as far.  I could have gone to Middletown.  But for me it didn’t really matter because I knew I was going to be leaving out of my parents’ house, even if I was going to Middletown.  So where I ended up specifically was because of my girlfriend but I was going to leave home nevertheless, that was just something I was going to do...

FM: What did your sister do? 

She took Travel and Tourism in Middletown and she lived in Middletown when she went to school.  And then she came home for awhile – I forget for how long because that’s when I was gone, a small overlap but not much – and couldn’t find anything she enjoyed around here.  She started in Travel and Tourism because she liked the idea of travelling.  I think maybe her initial plan was to work on a cruise line or something like that where she could travel a bit with the job.  Once she figured out that wasn’t her best option, she decided to act on the Irish Citizenship, through my grandmother – she’s Irish so both of us have dual citizenship.  So she’s in Scotland now.  She’s been there for almost 3 years now.  Working at a money-mart sort of place. 

FM: Thanks for that alternative scenario.  Okay, and then the last advice question is: What advice you would have for those of us who hope to be helpful to young people like yourself, to make these to go or to stay choices easier or have a better outcome, what advice would you give to us? 

I think, I’m not sure what the best answer is.  But just to make sure that students understand there are several different options.  Make sure they know all the options and support them when they do choose their options.  Even going back, I don’t know what I would do differently.

FM: I’m hearing you say you’re not sure that there were any wrong decisions made.

No, no I don’t think there were.  I made mistakes, definitely, but as far as choices in life, no, I don’t think that there’s anything wrong that I did.  I just think it’s important for students to understand the many options that they had.  And again, that any choices they make at such a young age are not final.

FM: Did you ever feel at all disadvantaged by having been raised in the country?

No, I don’t think so.  I think I had, certain things were disadvantage, certain things were an advantage.  There were certain things that I went through at a young age, just knowing how to do certain things that I do every day that people from the city don’t have any idea how to do.  But then the disadvantage I guess would be that I did have to go to the city for school and that was a big adjustment that students from the city didn’t have to make, obviously.  As far as, how to, learning how to travel within the city, transportation.  Just how to find things and navigate the city.  And I guess a student that travels from one city to the other to go to a different school might have the same problems, or some of the same problems.

FM: By virtue of the business that your family is in, you would have had a lot of exposure to ‘city folks’, the customers.  Do you think that made you more ‘sophisticated’ than maybe some other kids that you went to [high school] with? 

I guess so, you know.  It’s not like I’d never been to the city before.  I had some experience with what city life could be like.  Through the biggest customers.

FM: And maybe also hockey, did you travel with hockey?

It was mostly rural areas that I travelled.  When I was younger, we travelled, I’ve been to 23, 26 now, states, because of my parents’ business. They used to have a KOA convention every year.  The way that it worked it would be one year on the west side of the states, and the next year on the east side.  So when it was on the east side, we would go in a van with a trailer and drive down to Tennessee or Carolina, wherever it may be.  So I got to do a lot of travelling and that was a good experience as well.  And maybe that’s an advantage I have from other students here as well.  I have the advantage of seeing a lot of the outside world, and cultures in the outside world.  I’ve been to war memorials from the States, from the Civil War, been to Washington DC and seen all of the monuments and things.  I’ve been to Tennessee several times and seen the ‘redneck’ life style.  And I’ve been to the French quarter in New Orleans.  So I’ve seen many different things.  Definitely a different experience than most students.