Growing as an Individual in University
As I come to the end of my four years in my undergraduate interdisciplinary studies program at Plymouth State University, I cannot help but become at least a little reflective of my experiences here. Four years–48 months–208 weeks–1,460 days, that’s a lot of time spent revolving around one specific thing. In these past close to four years so many things have happened. I found my passions in life, made amazing friends, got to play Dungeons and Dragons, and started cooking and baking as hobbies (I hope to make bread one day!). Yet there are so many more small things like grabbing breakfast at the diner with friends, or sitting down for coffee at Cafe Monte Alto down on Main St.
In highschool, I initially wanted to study music education and then verge into musical performance on alto saxophone. Although I am glad that didn’t work out for me, that is a long story for another time. I also wanted to go to University of New Hampshire, the biggest university in my home state of New Hampshire. Most people would say I would have received the superior education there and on paper that may seem true, but not in real life for education is beyond mere credit-hours and programs offered. Education in a four-year undergraduate program is an all encompassing experience.
If you really think about it, four-year programs are such a wild concept. For four years, young people, with their entire lives ahead of them, get the opportunity to move into their school and live there for the next four years of their life, and have their entire life revolve around their classes. That is wicked awesome in my opinion, but it is also extremely unfortunate that higher ed is slowly becoming high school+, because more and more people are become apathetic towards their education. However, I probably wouldn’t have met many of my friends had they not felt compelled to attend university. The friends I made and the experience of moving into the walls of a higher ed institution enabled me to keep my learning a constantly accelerated process, where I could keep pushing and pushing the depth of my learning, because of the immediate access to campus resources and support from my peers.
The Start of an Intellectual Journey
In my time at university, there has been great personal growth that has happened in my life, but there has also been immense intellectual growth as well. Like most youth in modern American, the imminent fear of doom hovered over me as I attempted to figure out how I wanted to the next third of my life working. I was undeclared for three semesters, and became distressed as I neared my Junior year. I had this weird feeling of persecution that if I didn’t declare a major, one that I could do until graduation and for work, that I continuing my education with be pointless. Luckily that never happened as the phenomenon known as Dr. Robin DeRosa (@actualham) strolled through my life like a hurricane and revolutionised the way I go about learning forever.
If you haven’t met her, you should. When Robin starts talking about Interdisciplinary Learning, Open Pedagogy, and Higher Ed, it is an experience that I believe everyone in the entire world should be able to experience, for at least like a solid ten minutes. Because of Robin, I got to learn about this wild thing known as Interdisciplinary Studies. Apparently, instead of studying something you like, but having to slog through that 50% that you fervently dislike, you can instead study two or more things you passionately adore 100%. So I took the four subjects that I had liked studying up to this point, music theory, neuroscience, philosophy and psychology, and got to make it into a program I could graduate with. My major contains music theory and philosophy, and my minors are in psychology and neuroscience. But with this degree, I can start working towards what I really want to do in life–teach at the college level
Looking Towards the Future
Even though I love music theory, neuroscience, philosophy, and psychology, when I go into graduate studies, I will be pursuing a different, but slightly related, line of work than I do now–theology. Although I greatly hope to continue my interdisciplinarian method of learning, I am not quite sure yet if that will be possible. For those who may not know, I am Christian. I always found the ideas of religion interesting, such as denominational differences and various soteriological models. But it wasn’t until interdisciplinary studies where I realised that I wanted to pursue theology. I came to revelation that I have four years to study what I like, but I wanted it to be something useful to my graduate work, and so I went to study these four subjects. work than I do now–theology. Although I greatly hope to continue my interdisciplinarian method of learning, I am not quite sure yet if that will be possible. For those who may not know, I am Christian. I always found the ideas of religion interesting, such as denominational differences and various soteriological models. But it wasn’t until interdisciplinary studies where I realised that I wanted to pursue theology. I came to revelation that I have four years to study what I like, but I wanted it to be something useful to my graduate work, and so I went to study these four subjects.
With music theory, I wanted to learn how music and theology have interacted across history, and still do in the present day. I learned this in my music theory classes with Dr. Jonathan Santore (I got to interview this amazing human here) and in music history with Dr. Dan Perkins. Then with neuroscience, I wanted to learn how the physical mechanism for all consciousness, the brain, works to better understand that which was created by God. I can only thank Dr. Brian Healy and Dr. Chris Chabot (check out our research here) who showed me the wonders of neuroscience. But in philosophy, I wanted to learn how to develop critical thinking skills, learn the philosophical canon, and engage with ethical issues. My professors Scott Merrill, Mark Thorsby, and Dr. Maria Sanders have been invaluable to my education in philosophy. Lastly with psychology, I wanted to learn how people generally act and use this discipline to better understand how the brain expresses itself physically. I had the privilege of getting to study under Dr. Angela Kilb and Dr. Juanita Field.
I have become the scholar I am today because of the environment I got privileged to be in during university by living on campus, and through the many professors who have supported me in my years at Plymouth State University. Although I have come so far from high school, there is still much more learning ahead of me. As I enter this last semester, I keep being reminded of two things. The first is that I have been truly blessed by the experiences and opportunities I have had here at Plymouth State University. The second is that with so little time left, many seniors are tempted to sprint to the finish line, but I am trying to enjoy these last few months here, to really soak in as much as I can before I move on to other places. In four years so much has happened, and I couldn’t have predicted any of it. In the next four years, I anticipate being in a doctoral program, but I am looking forward to the surprisement of how life actually looks like when I am 26.