Be The Change, Be Interdisciplinary, Be the Person You’ve Always Wished to Be

In today’s society individuals are always looking for instant gratification, their patience grows to be slower and slower as advances in life become that much quicker. I have always tried my best to be patient, to constantly tell myself that life has a purpose and to realize that things seem to fall into place when we least expect it. Prior to taking Intro to Interdisciplinary Studies I wasn’t exactly looking forward to it, a whole semester sitting on my hands waiting on a decision that determines my career path? The thought of writing an essay explaining my whole thought process toward what my future depended on only left me feeling anxious and discouraged. Before I was a student in this class I thought that I would be learning different disciplines in the academic world that I could use in the future. I didn’t have a good idea of what I’d be doing other than getting the help I needed to establish an approved major. But just as I said life always falls into place when you least expect it, and I did rather the opposite than sit on my hands this semester, I created myself into who I wanted to be as a person, student, teammate, friend and daughter. I created myself into a interdisciplinarian.

 

Over the course of the semester my understanding of Interdisciplinary Studies improved in a multitude of ways. The first would be learning the the exact definitions and terms associated with the study, giving me a better understanding on how to implement them on daily aspects of interdisciplinarity. Second, was learning how my Global Health major is interdisciplinary and important, as well as knowing how different discipline groups can work in tandem to be successful. Lastly, my understanding changed because over the course of this semester I have become much more involved with the campus community than I have in the three years I have been a student here at Plymouth State University. As a nursing student, athlete on the Women’s soccer team and working a part time job I barely had time to myself let alone being an active participant in extracurricular. I had always felt like I was forcing myself into a puzzle, and me being the piece just didn’t fit, no matter how hard I pushed myself into that mold I never seemed to have the perfect placing. People, and even myself had asked over and over why don’t you do something different? Touching back on the thought that we as a society are always looking for instant gratification, I can honestly say I was scared. I had spent two years pushing myself past exhaustion to keep my grades up to standard in the hopes of passing. I was constantly discouraged with the results because they never seemed to mirror my efforts. I knew my ultimate goal in life was helping others, and nursing would help me obtain this goal while being financially stable at the same time. I needed that immediate satisfaction to convince myself that I was okay and happy. I didn’t realize how unhappy I truly was until declaring myself as an IDS major and seeing how happy I was becoming everyday that I moved farther from my past. This semester I not only declared a major in Global Health but a minor in Spanish giving me the opportunity to be a Spanish club member and meet others who shared the same interests. In addition, I was accepted to be a a Global Ambassador and Orientation Leader this upcoming summer. What is so special about this is that I am going to work with international students coming to Plymouth State University to pursue a degree! I’m excited to not only be a mentor, but a friend, learning about the diversity of students we are lucky to have here on campus. Without learning the importance of how to be interdisciplinary, I wouldn’t have had the confidence to live up to my full potential as a student and human being, I wouldn’t be the happy person I wished to be a year ago.

 

Throughout this semester students enrolled in the Intro to Interdisciplinary Studies class were instructed to complete weekly assignments. Initially when reading over the syllabus I wouldn’t understand the reasoning behind them, but for each one I learned as I was completing the assignment that there was a relation to how it strengthened our understanding toward how almost anything can be made interdisciplinary. One assignment in particular that helped me realize how my major; Global Health was interdisciplinary was when we had to write about different classes we took this semester and what we learned. If you haven’t already, be sure to check the article I wrote for this assignment on WordPress! The road to get Global Health approved as my major wasn’t exactly easy. My first submission was accepted but I was told I had to name my program: Cultural Health Studies. This didn’t settle well in my mind initially, until I found out about the new Global Health minor option. I then came to terms with myself being a Cultural Health Studies major with a double minor in Global Health and Spanish, sounds good right? Little did I know that in order to declare a minor there are rules through the university that state a student may not major and minor in the same discipline and you can not have more than two courses that count for both your major and minor. I had five courses that overlapped, deeming me ineligible to declare the minor. Here I was feeling discouraged at the fact that not only could I not declare my major of choice but the minor as well! I decided to to resubmit my argument for Global Health as a major to the IDS council. Ultimately the council approved my program but the lesson to researching my classes and comparing what I learned to what is helpful for my future career path. Without doing this I would not have been able to realize the importance of each course and how it could help strengthen my argument. If this process were easy, it wouldn’t be worth it. A relatable article in particular that I was instructed to annotate this semester was Colleges Must Reconstruct the Unity of Knowledge by Vartan Gregorian. The author wrote “for most students, college is a time for self-discovery, for developing passionate interests, and for trying to weave them into a meaningful career”. For me this hit home because it is extremely relevant to not only IDS students, but all college students. There have been immense social standards associated with knowing what the hell you want to do with your life barked into the ears of students the moment they begin the college application process. Each person has a different experience with self-discovery and finding what they are good at, some find this easy, others might never get the experience. Those who might not have experienced a successful self discovery could relate to this passage from the article:

“but a major failure of our higher-education system is that it has largely come to serve as a job-readiness program. Instead of helping students learn and grow as individuals, find meaning in their lives, or understand their role in society, college has become a chaotic maze where students try to pick up something useful as they search for the exit: the degree needed to obtain decent employment. Today’s students fulfill general-education requirements, take specialized courses in their majors, and fill out their schedule with some electives, but while college catalogs euphemistically describe this as a “curriculum,” it is rarely more than a collection of courses, devoid of planning, context, and coherence”.

As mentioned, I felt extremely discouraged as a nursing major when I couldn’t make the grade requirements. I associated my bad grades with worthlessness and with worthlessness I associated failure. My advisor simply said switch to a Health Promotion major, rather than truly getting to know who I was and my past experiences in the medical field abroad. She didn’t see the true potential I had brewing inside me, the potential that was brought to the light by the Interdisciplinary Studies Program. This here is where I tell you readers who might be feeling how I felt last year: “For what it’s worth: it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you’re proud of, and if you find you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start over again.” (A famous quote by F.Scott Fitzgerald). If I didn’t switch majors when I did I wouldn’t be able to say I am a pioneer alongside many other passionate students working toward a career path we’ve always wanted.

“There would be no place for interdisciplinarity if the disciplines didn’t come first, but collaboration is sometimes just as important, if not more important, than the individualized focus”. This quote was taken from chapter 14: The Challenges of Doing Interdisciplinary Work. I chose this quote because I felt is resonated with the question on why interdisciplinarity is important in universities and the world. With out the help of others we are unable to strengthen our own knowledge, there are no two individuals a like in the world. It is important to understand one’s culture in order to understand their work, you can’t use knowledge from your own culture to judge another’s.

First things first I hope to finish out this semester as the best I’ve had since beginning school here at Plymouth State, if things play out how they have been going I will be able to say I received all A’s for the first time in my college career. My first year in school as a nursing major I only received one A, and it was in a non-nursing related class. It’s been the biggest breath of fresh air to feel confident in all my classes and excited to take more courses for my new major. Ultimately I want to graduate as a member of The Interdisciplinary Studies Honor society along side many of my supportive classmates. After finishing school, I hope to enter the Peace Corps to continue my service work outside the United States. After my contract expires, I wish to continue my education and receive a master’s degree in Public Health. In a perfect world I’d love to work with human rights or disaster relief programs working to improve health and infrastructure conditions as well as the spread of disease both in the United States and abroad. I don’t know where I will end up in this life, but what I do know is I have the confidence in myself to be whatever I choose, something I would have never obtained if I didn’t become an Interdisciplinary Studies major.

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2 thoughts on “Be The Change, Be Interdisciplinary, Be the Person You’ve Always Wished to Be”

  1. This is just beautiful. I love the way you talk about your journey to interdisciplinarity as a holistic journey towards becoming a better version of yourself all around. You are such an integral part of our IDS family, and indeed you are one of the faces I most look forward to seeing in our office each day. I can’t really imagine our program without you, and I am so glad that it feels like home for you now. I give you so much credit for fighting for the major you wanted, and staying open-minded and receptive all along. You are a pleasure to work with, Kate!

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