Journey of a Lifetime: Finding His Passion
By Amanda Cairo
Some people know – even as early as age three -- what they want to be when they grow up. Lewiston, Idaho, native Chris Cay, on the other hand, found his dreams while studying at the University of Idaho.
“I ended up falling love with teaching and the ability to teach kids the same things I really love,” says Cay, who graduated this winter with a bachelor of science in education /technical education degree. “It was amazing to see my future take shape fully as I progressed in my major.”
After high school, Cay considered entering the workforce, but followed his high school girlfriend to the University of Idaho to give it the old “college try.” While the University felt good to him, being an engineering student didn’t feel quite right.
“I really felt like a Vandal from my first semester here,” says Cay. “I just knew I hadn’t found the right major yet.”
After sifting through the University catalogue, he was attracted to the career and technical education degree. Once in the program, after a talk with his adviser and an education class, he was hooked.
Now, with his degree in hand, married to his high school sweetheart, Brandy, and the parent to a newborn, Gunnar, Cay is ready to start his career as a metals and woodshop teacher.
He’s already got a head start from contacts in the industry from around the country he met through the Industrial Technology Club, whose members use their skills to raise funds for the club by making plaques, tables and chairs for campus groups. They also participated in Gritman Medical Center’s “Adult Day Health” and serve as judges and consultants for robotics and business education competitions on campus.
He also was one of the first delegates of the Technology Education Collegiate Association and represented the University of Idaho at TECA’s national conference in 2010 in Minneapolis.
“It was a great experience; it’s definitely something I won’t ever forget,” says Cay. “I know so much more, learned so much in that one week with everyone who has the same goal: furthering technical education.”
After his wife graduated with an art degree, Cay was ready to relocate to Portland, Ore., to finish up his student teaching this year, but an unexpected bundle of joy kept them close to home. His son arrived in late November, while Cay was working to finish his student teaching before graduation.
“It’s been stressful, but rewarding at the same time,” says Cay. “I have to put in a few more hours every day, but I love to teach and I love my family.”
The decision to stay in the area was easy for another reason: community. As a delivery driver for Howard Hughes Appliances, Cay was able to see more of Moscow and the surrounding area than most students. He also met members of the community and got to know a few of them.
“People in this community really care about people and do what they can for you,” says Cay. “That’s reflected so strongly throughout the town and at the University. It’s something I’ll carry forward.”
While he hopes to become a hands-on shop and metal teacher, he also looks forward to teaching engineering and design classes. And no matter where he lands, he’ll always carry a little part of Moscow with him, and a whole lot of Vandal too.