Majors, Minors, and Modifications…OH MY!
"Hi, I'm Colleen, and I am an Asian and Middle Eastern Studies modified with Economics major and a Human-Centered Design minor." I honestly cannot tell you the number of times I've repeated this sentence at networking events, interviews, and one-on-one conversations with peers in which I am typically greeted with blank stares at the sheer number of words I just rattled off or confusion over what the word "modified" even means. So, let me break it down for you:
Being a modified major means that I have been able to mesh relevant course material from two departments to make my own unique course of study. I was really interested in learning about China from both a cultural and economic point of view, so I paired language and culture classes from the Asian and Middle Eastern Studies department with courses on international economics from the Economics department to create a major that more closely aligns with my interests. My modified major has essentially allowed me to take an interdisciplinary approach to my studies at Dartmouth, through which I have been able to dive deeper into China's role on as an emerging economic superpower.
Upon hearing this explanation, a lot of people follow up by asking why I didn't just choose to double major in Chinese and Economics. Well, that's where my minor and my love for the liberal arts comes in. I certainly could have double-majored in Chinese and Economics, and I considered doing so for a while during my freshman year, but I realized that my passions are multifaceted and expand to topics outside of those two fields. More specifically, I wanted to be able to pursue a minor in Human-Centered Design and study Spanish language and Peruvian culture in Cusco, Peru while still having room in my course schedule to make the most of the liberal arts education at Dartmouth by taking classes in fields that were completely foreign to me, like philosophy, anthropology, and linguistics.
When I think about my path at Dartmouth, I like to think that I've been able to create a course of study that could loosely be called "International Social Entrepreneurship." My study abroad experiences in Beijing and Cusco cover the "international" part of this, and my combined studies of international economics and human-centered design have provided me with both the analytical business skills and the creative design skills to cover the "social entrepreneurship" piece.
I feel very fortunate to have been able to create my own path at Dartmouth and study exactly what I'm passionate about while also having time left in my schedule to explore fields and subjects that I had never even heard of. So, "I'm Colleen, and I am an Asian and Middle Eastern Studies modified with Economics major and a Human-Centered Design minor." Hopefully, by this point, you now know what this tongue-twister of an introduction really means to me.