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Students at Principia College have 25 different majors to choose from, covering a wide range of disciplines in the arts and sciences. However, some prefer to pursue a degree that is geared towards a specific discipline not traditionally offered as a major. Applying for a special major is quite a long process, but for a handful of students, it is worth the extra effort.
Senior Joanna Patzwald is about to complete her major in theatrical design. She began her studies at the college as a major in studio art, but soon realized that she also appreciated the world of theater. “I really loved the acting classes I was taking, so I decided to combine the two,” she said. “With my special major, I have been involved in theater, but in an artistic way, learning everything from set design to costumes.” In the future, Patzwald hopes to apply everything she has learned in technical theater to her profession.
Sophomore Hanne Andersen is double-majoring in art and art history. While art is already offered as a major at Principia, Andersen still had to go through an application process in order to add a major in art history. “I took a course called 20th Century Art and Architecture my freshman year. Then I realized three art history courses were required for my art major. But I wanted more than that,” she said. “As an art major, a second art history major supports my artwork, my understanding of the current art world, gives me more career opportunities and supports my admission to a graduate program of either field.” Andersen admits that one disadvantage of doing an additional special major is that she may not be able to go on a semester abroad because of her packed schedule.
Sophomore Nick Boyd is currently pursuing a major in music production. Boyd and sophomore Charlie Petch have spearheaded the creation of the new music production club on campus. Since the club’s inception last school year, many students on campus have made use of the new equipment in the Davis recording studio. “I was originally majoring in history and political science, and at that time I wasn’t doing anything musical,” Boyd said. “Then I remember having this epiphany freshman year. I love music, and I thought, ‘what am I doing?’ I don’t even like political science.” Boyd’s interest in film scores led him to an internship this summer with Warner Bros., where he will be shadowing someone in the post-production department.
Completing a special major takes a great deal of determination and self-discipline. However, for students on campus who are passionate about their unique interests, pursuing a special major is the best option. Linda Hannan of the Academic and Career Advising office, who is also the special majors adviser, has been meeting with students interested in studying a subject outside of the majors offered in the course catalog. “Applying for a special major is a process. There’s some written work to do and more than a few meetings involved, but it’s worth it,” Andersen said.
Students that have already had their special major approved can look forward to perfecting the skills they will need to succeed in their field. “After graduation, I may teach, paint, make short films, be a graphic designer, work for Pixar or be a director of one of the finest museums in the world,” Andersen said. “But I’m willing to start by sweeping the floors.”
“I really appreciate being able to do a special major in film here,” junior Abbie Steckler said. “I’ve gotten to customize my major so that I can learn what I need to prepare for a career in film.”
Despite the long meetings and extensive paperwork, several students completing a special major encourage people on campus to pursue what they love.