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08.17.11

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Justifying Your Passion

By Blake Montgomery


Type "humanities degrees" into Google, and it'll helpfully offer to autocomplete your search with ". . . are worthless." Maybe that speaks for itself; what to do with a humanities degree is on everybody's mind. We asked four Stanford students why, in such an uncertain job market, they chose to follow their heart.

Jackie Basu, history major:

"I started out as an engineer, mostly doing chemistry. I really liked the methodology of science. It's rigorous and empirical, but the more I did it, the less I was interested in the larger questions that I was asking myself. I became more interested in the questions they were asking in political science about the mechanics of state-forming, society's response to events and collective action."

Tina Miller, product design major:

"I'm really interested in everything; I want to see where it all overlaps. That's why I chose this wonderful interdisciplinary field. It's a da Vinci major for this era. I get to examine things from ethical, philosophical, technological and aesthetic perspectives."

Alex Garrett, pre-med, and considering concurrent bachelor's degree in drama:

"If you're a techie major, you're going to have a more practical—more physical and direct—influence on people's lives. 'Fuzzy' majors are going to change the world in a theoretical and ideological sense. I want to help people in an immediate, one-on-one sense. I see undergrad as an opportunity to grow more as a person, and that will improve my performance as a doctor."

Miles Osgood, English major:

"Some college students pick their majors having planned from the start what they're 'going to do with that,'" Miles waxes, "but English is not a 'that,' and that's why I picked it."


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