I study English at the University of Delaware, so often, I get a thin view of how college life actually is and what majors are like. I'd like to think I know that engineering is hard and teaching is rewarding, but I've never really sat down and asked people why their majors are what they chose.
I asked Brandon Cordova, a chemistry major who graduated in 2017, why his major is unique. He said that chemistry often requires analytical and being good with conceptual or abstract concepts. Not many people have both, which is why some chemistry majors like one class (organic chemistry) over another (physical chemistry).
"I often tell rising sophomores and juniors to learn a little bit about each concentration in the curriculum, but it's kind of surface and general level which makes it harder to make a decision.y major that they will likely love one of the classes and despise the others," he explained.
Cordova now works at a company called Eurofins where he tests soil and water samples to determine if companies are within EPA regulations.
"What's inspiring to me is the grand scale and the potential impact of the data we generate. Never before has the work I've done had such a large impact on the community, both on the local scale and the national scale."
Another student who is environmentally conscious is Louis Del Cueto, 21, who is a senior at the University of Delaware studying environmental science with a minor in geoscience.
He said he is not sure what he will do after school, but he wants to work for the EPA.
Del Cueto explained that the hardest thing in his major is choosing a concentration because there are And numerous areas of study, including eco-science, atmospheric science, Marine science, the critical zone (which is where Del Cueto decided to study) and several others.
"You learn a little bit about each concentration in the curriculum, but it's kind of surface and general level which makes it harder to make a decision," he said.
He did not choose his concentration until the end of his junior year.
According to Del Cueto, the future of his degree is "bright."
"Taking care of the environment will always be a major part of our world especially in present day."
Michael Criswell, a senior mechanical engineering major, told me a bit about his journey into his major.
He went into the engineering program with an undecided concentration his first semester, and took the time to explore each program before finally settling on mechanical engineering.
But it was not as easy as that. Criswell stressed the importance of being a team player.
"I've had projects where everyone was doing work, except one person due to their availability, their lack of understanding of the project or overall laziness to do the work. Making sure everyone on the team is on the same page every step of the way and keeping them motivated and accounted for are keys to a good engineering project or any project in general."
Criswell also allowed that were he able to get access to useful "CAD" (computer-aided design) software in high school, he thinks he would have been better off than learning the software as a sophomore.
But there were some achievements to speak of!
"One of my proudest moments was my sophomore design project since we won 3rd favorite design out of the whole class," he said.
"We made a toy that fit the range of motion of a child of our target age group. Also, it was a test for me on if I had learned something the first half of my college education!"
The next student I talked to might also have toys involved with their major, but it is no game.
I talked to senior Hannah Greenberg who is studying elementary education and special education.
All I knew before speaking to her was that elementary education majors often student teach in classrooms and often are required to bring in materials like books or games and build lesson plans.
There was a lot I did not know.
One major difference between majoring in elementary education and other majors is "the amount of practical experience we get. Starting freshman year, I was out helping in a classroom for one of my classes."
Greenberg noted that her passion for her major comes from having a great teacher in second grade while her concentration in special education came in high school from an experience volunteering in one particular school.
Another equally inspiring experience came this past semester. Helping a student with his writing and math goals started as a challenge, as the student did not want to do the work. By the end of the semester, he was able to do most of the tasks he was assigned.
"Watching this student grow, especially since one of the teachers who worked with wrote him off as stupid, was so inspiring. This student was able to prove that he could complete grade level tasks when given the time and support. I am so proud of what he was able to accomplish in a just a few months," Greenberg said.
Another student whose major was influenced by her personal life is Abigail Manganiello, studying history with a religious concentration (as well as a legal studies and forensic science double minor that- her words, not mine- have nothing to do with anything).
Manganiello's history major comes from "five majors beforehand before settling into this one," and the understanding that history, especially that of studying religion, was the only thing she was pursuing "wholeheartedly."
The legal studies and forensic science comes from a love of Rizzoli & Isles.
Her most inspiring experience came from right here at UD,
Her professor, Tyson Sukava, introduced her to a book, "The Golden Bough," that talked about the similarities between different religions. She noticed that a lot of them had the same core stories and concepts, just interpreted differently.
This experience started her quest for the "unlimited bounds of interpersonal dynamics."
Religion, Manganiello explains, will be vital in the future because understanding religions and how they work is important to solving conflicts.
After college, she plans to pursue a master's degree in criminal investigation (following more in the vein of her minors), and hopes to someday work in Title IX coordination or "bringing children back to their families" in investigating abductions and other severe crimes.
Whether these students are branching into something new or renewing love for the majors they are already cultivating, it is clear they are all headed towards a bright future.
I applaud everyone I talked to and all those pursuing majors that nourish their minds, bodies, and souls.
Thank you, and see you next week!