Everyone remembers going through school with the feeling of excitement, waiting on high school graduation day. We all had our dreams, made our plans, and counted the months, weeks, and days until we were able to fly the coop and strike out on our own. Most of us also remember how, the closer we got to graduation, the more nervous we became about the prospect of starting the next chapter of our lives. I’d venture to say this is something more folks than not experienced.
For Zoe Satterthwaite, a Vandalia Community Unit High School senior, this is a very real situation. “From the beginning I was always … really excited to graduate, but now … it’s coming to an end. It’s kind of starting to hit me. I feel like I’m ready to get out and meet new people, because I’m going to Kentucky,” she said.
Zoe has made a commitment to attend Murray State University in Kentucky to study communication disorders for speech pathology. “My mom’s a speech pathologist, so I’ve always kind of been interested in the field. I’ve always really done well with kids, so I knew I wanted to do something with kids, and that just felt like the right fit,” she explained.
Speech pathology is something that Zoe was not only inspired to pursue by watching her mom – it’s something she has overcome herself. “Well, whenever I was little, I used to have trouble saying my “S’s”, and I kind of thought I was going to get made fun of [for it] whenever I was going into school. But then my mom helped me fix that,” she said. Even though Zoe was never the target of bullying herself, she’s witnessed it happen to others and feels a desire to help prevent it through her chosen career path. “I’ve seen how some kids that do have problems with their speech, they get made fun of. And I want to be able to help them gain confidence and just get over it with help,” she said.
Having been a shy person since she was young, Zoe credits her speech class for helping her come out of her shell. “Speech was probably my favorite class that I’ve ever taken,” she said, “I thought I was going to hate that class.” She recalls, on the first day of class, the teacher reassured everyone that by the end of the semester they would feel like everyone in class was their best friend. “And she was 100% right! I actually loved that class. And I feel like it helped me learn to talk to people better. Like, I’m not as nervous whenever I’m talking to strangers anymore,” she said.
Zoe has always had a passion for helping others. She feels her friends would characterize her as, “Somebody that’s very empathetic. … I try to be there for a lot of people. [And] I feel like [my friends] see that,” she said. Everyone experiences struggles of some kind, at some point in their lives – but if you know Zoe, you’ll never have to go-it alone. “I feel like a lot of people … just get so caught up with what they’re feeling and they kind of forget to try to put themselves in other people’s shoes sometimes. And I’ve known what it’s like to feel like you have nobody, … and I don’t want anybody else to feel like that, so I want to be there for everybody else when I can,” she said.
Just as we all experience struggle, we all experience apprehension as well. For example, at one point Zoe was nervous to strike out on her own far away from home, so she considered going to school in Edwardsville for a while. Through self-reflection, she conquered that fear and made her commitment to Murray State. Zoe’s best piece of advice would be to stop worrying so much. “I feel like I was always scared. I was really shy, so I was always scared that I wasn’t going to be able to make friends. … I was scared to go to Kentucky,” she said, “[But] I just tried to realize that everything is temporary. It’s not going to last forever, … so just stop worrying about what everybody else thinks,” she concluded.