An Uncommon College Experience

I’m not the average university graduate. In December 2016, I got my Bachelor’s of General Studies from Indiana University, Fort Wayne.

Rewind a few years to my senior year of high school. I was shaken. Everyday on the way to school my dad and I heard news about the Great Recession. I wondered how it would affect my education and career. Chief among my concerns was the question: how could I make sure I keep a job once I get it?

The recession had already affected my life. What if the economy—or other destabilizing forces—downsized or eradicated my place of employment? What would I do?

My father installed granite counter tops in homes and businesses before the recession. Obviously, his business took a hit when people stopped wanting to spend money on luxury home renovations.

If I got an education to just do one thing, and that one thing became obsolete or unnecessary, how would I survive? I also didn’t want to dive into a flooded market where there were too many people performing the same job. The world can’t be filled solely with doctors and nurses–no matter how extremely useful they are.

What the adults around me kept saying was, “the more you can do, the more indispensable you will become.”

This is the rationale that led me to consciously–100% on purpose–change my major to General Studies my sophomore year. I wanted a degree that would allow me to learn everything that I might want or need to know—which, range from poetry to project management and, unfortunately, the role of terrorism and tyranny in modern society.

Choosing my minors equally important. Creative writing, specifically poetry, now acts as an emblem of my creativity. It taught me how to communicate deeply, with brevity. Public relations is a token of my professionalism and my respect for corporate social responsibility. What thrilled me about PR was that practitioners esteem well-researched and careful communication more than any other breed of professional I’ve come across. I also love that PR is evolving at an intersection of departments and disciplines.

General Studies let me fill in the gaps that I found in university curriculum. My public relations minor required courses on principles, journalism, and publicity. But what I noticed in each of these classes was that hypothetical events were being planned and imaginary press conferences went off without a hitch. Obviously, this is a goal you want to aim for, but these classes weren’t teaching myself or my peers how to throw a successful event. So, I took an additional class on event management in the hospitality department. That is where I learned event planning logistics like obtaining rights to play music at a venue from agencies like ASCAP. If this sounds familiar (cough political rallies cough), you could guess that IPFW was not the only university overlooking this aptitude.

My degree gave me the opportunity to take classes from different disciplines and work with people from all kinds of backgrounds. It was important for me to garner diverse expertise because of my love of writing and communication. My degree has given me insight into how small gears of information work inside a larger machine and how ideas transfer from arts to sciences and back again. Whatever work I do in my career, my motley college experience will help me to build relationships and improve the quality of my work.

 

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