Minute in My Shoes: A singer on her way to the FBI

Teal Stewart, junior in life sciences, wants to one day work for the FBI as a forensic scientist. (Rafael Garcia | Collegian Media Group)

Editor’s note: “Minute in my Shoes” is the Collegian’s new feature series that explores, in brief, the lives lived and issues faced by everyday K-State students.

If you go back 20-something years ago and ask Teal Stewart what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would have told you, “a princess.”

That just hasn’t worked out, she says, so now Stewart, a junior in life sciences, has got her eyes set on a future as a forensic scientist.

“No matter how hard I try,” she laughs, “I can’t be a princess.”

And as much as those career plans might differ, they could have been even more starkly different. When she left Colby, Kansas, she was first headed to Wichita State University to study music education, and then presumably be a music teacher. But that was “just awful,” she says. “It sucked all of the fun out of it.”

It wasn’t just the major, though. Money got tight, so she took a year off to get her life together. At the time, running a daycare seemed like a possibility, but that turned out to be more of an “eh” idea, in her words. Just like every other student, she has a “real” dream, versus her professional dream. The dream that makes you smile just thinking about it, versus the kind of dream you tell your parents and professors.

Her professional dream? To work for the FBI. Her real dream? To be a singer.

So, what’s stopping her?

“Nothing, really,” she says. “I’ve tried. I’ve gone to Open Mic nights, and I was in choir for the first semester at K-State.”

During her year off from college, she even tried out for the show “The Voice” in Atlanta. She remembers a lot about the day of the audition: how cold it was outside, what she was wearing, how early she got there, and even the building number of the skyscraper — but not the name of the song (something about heartbreak, probably, she says).

Maybe it just wasn’t meant to be that year, because when her first-round audition came up, she hadn’t realized that she would only be singing a small part of the song. So when it came time to sing, she cut out “the wrong parts” from her song, not the harder, more impressive parts. It was a learning experience, she says, and she’s not sure she would want to handle the “pressures of being famous.”

But she’ll “just have to do it again,” she says.

For now, though, she’s happy where she’s at on her path to being an FBI forensic scientist. Money is probably the biggest obstacle in her life right now, but after working as a server for much of her time at K-State so far, she’s made enough money to finally take some time for herself and get involved, specifically with Chi Alpha Campus Ministries.

One day, she might move to North Carolina, maybe the Kansas City area (FBI labs aren’t too common). She wants to be known as successful, and she says that means having a decent, paying job with a decent husband and a couple of kids living in a decent house.

“That’ll all happen,” Stewart says. “In its own time.”

I'm Rafael Garcia, and I'm a 2019 K-State graduate in journalism and former editor-in-chief of the K-State Collegian. I believe that much of the world's problems come from a lack of understanding of other people, but by telling other people's stories and finding the good in the world, I think we can increase our understanding and appreciation of each other. Questions, comments, concerns, news tips? Email the Collegian team at news@kstatecollegian.com.