• Mika Okimura

I Want to Save the Ocean

I am a millennial on my way out of my early thirties and I still am not entirely sure what I want to be when I grow up. Thank goodness I have not felt any external pressure to hit any life milestones and norms have shifted for my generation. By now I know what I like and I know what makes money, and in my limited career experience those have not overlapped. A younger me would say, “fuck the man, i’ll do what i want.” Now I think I deserve money and I would do good things with it. For better or for worse, I want in that race. I have a lovely dog, and I would like to be able to be able to be financially responsible for two dogs. I would like to be able to afford to go on vacation more often than once in six years. I would like to be able to work closely with people and organizations that would be able to financially support environmental stewardship. I would like to be able to contribute 10% of my salary to charitable organizations. I am a “live to work” (not work to live) type of person. I love being productive and having a positive impact. I would like to do those things when I grow up. I would also like to save the ocean.

For the past seven years I have been teaching part time at many universities in my area, but these are not “grown up” jobs. Plenty of smart and grown people have the job of part time temporary instructional faculty, but the assurances of economic stability that comes with a career are notably absent from this occupation. Benefits such as health care and dental, paid time off, maternity leave, retirement incentives are all absent. It’s arguable if a living wage exists as the pay scale is not calibrated from the standard state level to the Bay Area for my main position. I am fairly certain, and I have evidence, that I positively impact many students who take the classes I teach. I cannot and will not be able to stay in this occupation because all the good I am doing comes at my own expense. At the security of my future, at my feelings of self worth, and at the cost of missed opportunities.

So how do I navigate from here to a place where I can save the ocean?

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