What A Liberal Arts Education Means To Me

What A Liberal Arts Education Means To Me

We don't always sit under trees and sing "Kumbayah."
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A common assumption about students who go to liberal arts colleges is that they just sit around underneath the cool shade of a giant oak tree and talk about their feelings. And as a student at a liberal arts college, I can honestly say that I...have only done this like once or twice.

Telling people that I go to a small liberal arts college often elicits confused looks and condescending questions about why I didn't choose to go to a big-name university. They question what I'll be able to do in the future with my liberal arts degree and joke that I'll become a teacher. Firstly, what's wrong with being a teacher? Secondly, my future is none of your business.

Merriam-Web defines liberal arts as: "College or university studies (as language, philosophy, literature, abstract science) intended to provide chiefly general knowledge and to develop general intellectual capacities (as reason and judgment) as opposed to professional or vocational skills."

I define liberal arts as a genuine love for learning.

The deadline for declaring concentrations recently passed at my small liberal arts college and my Facebook feed was flooded with life events of declaring majors. They ranged from Environmental Studies and Theatre double majors to Biochemistry and French double majors to Creative Writing majors. I, myself, declared Literature and French, and I can't wait to go back home and have my relatives ask me why. Going to a liberal arts college makes these diverse major pairings possible. And the learning isn't just limited to the classroom and our areas of concentration.

Studying at a liberal arts college means you can petition for an independent study in building cars while also taking classes on poetry, linear algebra and the history of the Middle East and engaging in student organizations discussing the politics of hair and intersectional feminism in the evening. Especially at a college like mine with an open curriculum, students take classes in areas in which they're genuinely interested. Even better, professors are genuinely interested in their students and want us to enjoy what we're learning. As much as I complain about the amount of school work I have, I am fascinated with course material and love what I am learning in and out of class. We don't go to our colleges because we love being extremely isolated from civilization. We go for the education, our passion for learning, and the opportunities we're afforded.

Last month, presidential candidate Marco Rubio called liberal arts colleges “indoctrination camps” protected by the political left “because all their friends work there.” To which Alan Singer from Hofstra University responded on Huffington Post by citing Thomas Jefferson who wrote in a letter in 1786: "I think by far the most important bill in our whole code is that for the diffusion of knowledge among the people. No other sure foundation can be devised, for the preservation of freedom and happiness." Although I don't agree with Thomas Jefferson on all things, I agree with the importance he places on "the diffusion of knowledge." Liberal arts colleges preserve crucial learning traditions and foster values in strong oral and written communication, social awareness, citizenship, creativity, and more.

When it comes to finding a job, the skills and experiences that liberal arts college students gain make them well-rounded candidates. Still, why is there so little value in learning itself? Additionally, why is one's love of learning a reason for being shamed by others who have their minds set only on vocational prospects? Do whatever you want. Study whatever you want. Be passionate and love learning for what it is, not for what you think it will give you in the future.

Cover Image Credit: hamilton.edu

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I'm The Girl Who'd Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

You raise your protest picket signs and I’ll raise my white picket fence.
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Social Media feeds are constantly filled with quotes on women's rights, protests with mobs of women, and an array of cleverly worded picket signs.

Good for them, standing up for their beliefs and opinions. Will I be joining my tight-knit family of the same gender?

Nope, no thank you.

Don't get me wrong, I am not going to be oblivious to my history and the advancements that women have fought to achieve. I am aware that the strides made by many women before me have provided us with voting rights, a voice, equality, and equal pay in the workforce.

SEE ALSO: To The Girl Who Would Rather Raise A Family Than A Feminist Protest Sign

For that, I am deeply thankful. But at this day in age, I know more female managers in the workforce than male. I know more women in business than men. I know more female students in STEM programs than male students. So what’s with all the hype? We are girl bosses, we can run the world, we don’t need to fight the system anymore.

Please stop.

Because it is insulting to the rest of us girls who are okay with being homemakers, wives, or stay-at-home moms. It's dividing our sisterhood, and it needs to stop.

All these protests and strong statements make us feel like now we HAVE to obtain a power position in our career. It's our rightful duty to our sisters. And if we do not, we are a disappointment to the gender and it makes us look weak.

Weak to the point where I feel ashamed to say to a friend “I want to be a stay at home mom someday.” Then have them look at me like I must have been brain-washed by a man because that can be the only explanation. I'm tired of feeling belittled for being a traditionalist.

Why?

Because why should I feel bad for wanting to create a comfortable home for my future family, cooking for my husband, being a soccer mom, keeping my house tidy? Because honestly, I cannot wait.

I will have no problem taking my future husband’s last name, and following his lead.

The Bible appoints men to be the head of a family, and for wives to submit to their husbands. (This can be interpreted in so many ways, so don't get your panties in a bunch at the word “submit”). God specifically made women to be gentle and caring, and we should not be afraid to embrace that. God created men to be leaders with the strength to carry the weight of a family.

However, in no way does this mean that the roles cannot be flipped. If you want to take on the responsibility, by all means, you go girl. But for me personally? I'm sensitive, I cry during horror movies, I'm afraid of basements and dark rooms. I, in no way, am strong enough to take on the tasks that men have been appointed to. And I'm okay with that.

So please, let me look forward to baking cookies for bake sales and driving a mom car.

And I'll support you in your endeavors and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. It doesn't matter what side you are on as long as we support each other, because we all need some girl power.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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The Revival Of The Coal Industry Is Unattainable

Clean beautiful coal will never be a reality. President Trump's backing of a declining industry is misguided and will have despairing environmental impacts.

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The coal industry and its workers were placed at the forefront of American politics during the 2016 election cycle. President Trump promised a revival of the coal industry and promised to secure the jobs of coal country. The President, halfway through his first term, has so far taken measures to do just that. Trump withdrew from the Paris Climate Agreement, threw out Obama's Clean Power Plan, and did away with an Obama-era regulation that would prevent coal ash from entering streams and other bodies of water.

On one hand, it's quite extraordinary for a politician to do good on his campaign promises. On the other hand, is anyone considering whether or not the President is putting all his eggs into the wrong basket? Coal has been on the decline for about a decade now. Even without environmental regulations, the energy produced by coal is expected to reduce by 20% by 2030. Renewable energy such as wind and solar are replacing coal.


For an election campaign, it's easy to see why a candidate would align with coal. States like West Virginia and Pennsylvania are key when running a national campaign. The votes are there in those counties that support the coal industry. They will vote for any candidate who sides with their industry. But from an environmental standpoint, there's more on the line than just an election. It's about our clean air and water. Climate change is real and the effects of coal will only accelerate the process.

Coal ash that finds its way into water streams can damage that water supply for good. It could also impact the wildlife within the area. Coal also pollutes the air we breathe. Clean coal is a myth. Plain and simple. Coal is anything but clean. Clean coal sounds good in a stump speech, but we all know it's a fallacy.

Mountaintop mining also has a deep environmental impact. The Appalachian mountains have been destroyed from surface mining. West Virginia residents hold their beautiful mountains in high regard. Now, some of them look very different and the destruction is permanent. If the mining continues, the mountains of the Appalachia region will be gone. It would be a shame if you went to West Virginia to admire their mountains, and none were left.

In 1906, President Theodore Roosevelt passed the American Antiquities Act of 1906. Roosevelt protected 230 million acres of land during his presidency. Roosevelt understood the importance of conservation and preserving our nation's natural beauty. The same natural beauty that God envisioned. We should not take that for granted. We should restore our mountains, forests, and lakes so that our children's children can reside in the richness of our natural environment.

President Roosevelt also ended the coal strike in 1902. The United States was much more dependent on coal in the 20th century than it is now. Roosevelt knew the coal strike had to be resolved because the cold winter would have been fatal. The change of the Republican party over a century later is quite intriguing to ponder. The party went from a strong conservationist in Roosevelt to Trump, who is willing to move mountains for a dying industry.

All of these facts surrounding the coal debate cannot be ignored. The rest of the western world will move on to new forms of renewable energy. While the United States will be stuck in neutral, reviving coal. Renewable energy should be strongly considered if we are to protect our water, air, and lands.

Disclaimer: I understand the risks coal miners make when they show up for work. I know that safety regulations are not always up to par and that coal mining is a very dangerous profession. I also understand the viewpoint of coal miners and their reasoning for disagreeing with me. I know they want to work and provide for their families. That's what we all want to do. As I write this, I wish not to offend coal miners, I only aim to critique the President and his policies about the coal industry.

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