Before coming to college, I was definitely a science-oriented student. Recently, my mom was cleaning out my closet and found a reflection I wrote for an English class where I said writing a four page paper was difficult because I’m “not the best writer.” Oh, have times have changed.
But when I got to UNC and quickly changed my exercise and sports science major to journalism, I felt oddly relieved. I’d been surrounded by science and math my entire educational career, but for once, I was able to apply myself in a more creative way and have freedom outside of formulas and molecular structures. But in the back of my head, I always wished I could somehow be involved or continue my scientific education, specifically relating to climate change and other pressing environmental issues.
The summer after my sophomore year at UNC, I interned at Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium in Sarasota, Florida. When I was interning at Mote, the graphic designer there was ecstatic to tell me that she had minored in marine science at UNC, so I figured ‘hey, if she can do it, why can’t I?’ and immediately started looking up the course catalog for UNC’s environmental studies programs.
As I am with most things, I got a little too invested. I had it in my head that I was going to add a double major in environmental studies, while still underloading senior year. Keep in mind, I’d already enrolled for my first semester of junior year, so this was essentially completing an entire major and the rest of my first major in three semesters. Needless to say, after a quick phone call with an advisor, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. So, I decided to declare an environmental studies minor and move along with my junior year.
But then, I heard about a dual degree program with the MJ School and the environmental studies department where students can take an extra year to get an B.A. in environmental studies and get an M.A. in mass communication. So I thought, ‘Yes, this is the answer to my problem. Let’s do it.’
I walked into an advising appointment to discuss the possibilities of this and was SO excited to begin my journey to get a master’s degree. The advisor was happy about my potential since I already showed an interest in both aspects of the program, however, he told me that I would have to drop my journalism major to a minor, and pick up an environmental studies major instead of a minor.
When he told me this, my stomach dropped. I left the appointment saying I’d let him know my decision, and called my parents to update them on the situation. When they answered and I started telling them about the program, I immediately started crying. To this day, I have absolutely no idea why I had such a negative reaction to dropping my journalism major. But, I do know that deciding not to drop my major to get into the program was the best decision I could have made.
While I’m sure that dual degree program would have given me great opportunities, sticking with my major and completing all of the required courses for it has opened so many doors. If I had stuck with the dual degree program, I would’ve had to take summer classes to complete the environmental studies major on time. If I’d done that, I wouldn’t have found my summer internship after my junior year, which lead to part-time employment throughout the school year and is leading to a job after graduation.
I also wouldn’t have been able to take as many undergraduate courses in the journalism school, which would’ve been detrimental to my educational experience. UNC’s MJ School has so many incredible professors, and I would have completely missed out on the wonderful experiences they’ve given me in my undergraduate career.
So, I guess the point of this is: go with your gut.
If I hadn’t listened to what my subconscious was telling me about dropping my journalism major, who knows where I would be. I could be slaving the days away doing research in some environmental science lab, which is super not what I was put on this earth to do. As much as I appreciate groundbreaking research, we all know I don’t belong in a lab; my CHEM 101 lab partner learned that the hard way.