If Elysha Francis could give his 18-year-old self advice, he would tell him to get a science degree because the history and philosophy he studied was useless.
The Hartselle native loves history and does what many new college students do: He decided to study what he loves. He graduated in 2007 with a degree in history and philosophy from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.
"I've always liked memorizing stories," he said. "There's a long-running joke with my friends that I would be the coolest janitor ever."
According to a 2011 study by Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce shows humanities degrees, which include history and philosophy, as one of the majors with the highest unemployment rates (8.4 percent). U.S. History majors have a 15.1 percent rate.
"I don't know what I was thinking," he said. "Do what gets you a job."
After graduating, Francis worked retail for two years, mostly with the video-game retail chain GameStop.
"Retail is kind of soul-sucking," he said.
He waits tables at the Cullman Cracker Barrel restaurant to pay his bills now, while he goes back to school for a hopefully more useful education.
Despite his advice, Francis isn't chasing a science degree. Instead, he is pursuing a fifth-year master's degree in history and a teaching certificate. Despite the "fifth-year" description, he's been working on it for a year and has one more to go.
"I can't transition into science," he said. "I can't just start over. You pigeonhole yourself."
His ideal job is teaching eighth-grade history because he is fascinated by the ancient history-to-Renaissance time period most eighth grade curricula cover.
He is cutting his teeth with education training in Huntsville schools. He will begin student teaching in spring.
"This may seem like a cliche because all teachers will say this," he said, "but when you see that light bulb go off in a student's head, when you see that spark ... that's addictive."
Ben Montgomery can be reached at 256-340-2445 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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