After high school, the only debate for me was do I focus on English literature or history. I am not sure what sparked my initial interest. I liked my upper school history teachers; I was well read and had a great interest in looking at the problems of vice, poverty, class, race, and gender; my friend Karlyn Hunter introduced me to a few great books on the topic of race while in high school. In the end, teaching history was my call. I often hear that people decide to teach because they cannot do anything else. This is a wholly inaccurate statement. Better yet, my first job offer was from a publishing firm in Seattle. History teaches one to ponder in an intellectual yet pragmatic way. Those of us who are students of history tend to be good writers, analytical thinkers, synthesizers, and well read. I have seen a number of my favorite (yes I do have them) students study history. I see myself in the realm of teacher and historian. I am very active in the academic community; I enjoy research and writing; I also find pleasure doing archival work, presenting a paper or concept at a conference, traveling, or just wondering through the stacks of some library.
Because I am an active teacher scholar, I do believe that my students benefit a great deal. As they might contend, I do get on stage when talking about how a recent research project relates to what we are reading in class. Often times, my research interest drives what we read and how we read it. But for others, teaching and academic life does not bring them pleasure when it comes to history. Still, I always encourage students to study what they love. Here is a great link on alternative fields for those who want to study history, but do not want to teach or do academic research.