“I’m scared, and also very excited,” says sophomore Bentlee Isom, about her upcoming junior year and the fast-approaching graduation date that will follow. “I realize that once I graduate, I have to go to college and I have to find out what I’m doing with my life.”
It’s not as if she hasn’t already given the questions of college and career quite a bit of thought and careful consideration, though. She entertained the idea of enlisting in the military, as one of her three older brothers had done, but ultimately decided against it. “It was really hard on my parents,” she relates, “so, I don’t want to do that to them again.” Nursing is another path she is contemplating, but the responsibility involved gives her pause. “I realized that it’s hard to have somebody else’s life in your hands,” she confides. Still, she has not completely given up on a career in the medical field. And then, there’s real estate, which has long interested her. No, Bentlee does not lack options, career-wise.
As for college, her school of choice is Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau. She is familiar with the area and with the campus, as she has a brother that lives near the school and has visited it several times. “It’s just a very beautiful campus,” she enthuses.
Although she has lived in Mounds her whole life and enjoys a closeness with her family that makes it difficult to imagine living away from them, she is open to the possibility of leaving the Mounds area to pursue opportunities elsewhere. “I do want to go out and see other places,” she states. “Because I’ve lived here my whole life, and I’ve seen everything [here].”
Bentlee considers herself to be an introvert, and shares that she struggles with anxiety in social situations. But, when she is with family and friends, the true Bentlee emerges. ”When I’m with my friends and family, I’m just very talkative. I do not shut up – ever,” she says, laughing. And she is making great strides toward conquering her social anxiety, realizing that one can be an introvert – focusing on one’s own thoughts and ideas – and still engage with and relate to others. In fact, she now takes it upon herself to speak out for friends whose own social anxiety prevents them from speaking for themselves. “If they need something, I’m there for them,” she says, “and I try to speak for them if they can’t speak.”
Bentlee is obviously a very caring and considerate person, traits she may have acquired by spending so much time with her beloved great aunt, who tragically passed away last year due to complications during surgery. “She was always there for me, for my family, if I needed her,” Bentlee recalls. “When she passed, it was really hard – I saw her every day.” Climbing out of the hole in her life left by the passing of such a big influence was difficult. But, Bentlee soon realized that what made the loss so hard to bear could also help to ease the pain. “I have a lot of memories of her that I’m lucky to have,” she says. “I tried to remember those memories, and it helped me get over it.”
Whether it’s college in Cape or somewhere else yet to be discovered, followed by a career in real estate, nursing, or something else so far unknown, Bentlee is well-equipped with the passion and drive to bring her life plan to fruition – with no reason to fear, but every reason to be very excited.