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My major, my way

Kellie Herson ’11 crafted a major made just for her.

Kellie Herson '11

Individualized majors just might be St. Norbert’s best-kept secret. Not many students are aware that the college offers them, and of those who are, few consider designing one. Doing so requires more work than selecting a traditional major, without a doubt – but my experience taught me it’s worth it.

Before I decided which college to attend, literature was my main academic interest. Fascinated by the way gender shapes us, I also knew I wanted to make women’s and gender studies part of my undergraduate experience. When I chose St. Norbert, I was thrilled to discover that I could major in English, minor in women’s and gender studies, study abroad and still graduate in three years.

Then the first two courses I took toward my minor – Introduction to Women’s and Gender Studies with Karlyn Crowley (English) and Women and Work with Victoria Tashjian (History) – changed the way I thought about literally everything around me, helping me describe and contextualize things I’d instinctively felt since I was young. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue more than the minor the college offers in the field.

When I realized that taking four women’s and gender studies classes while studying abroad would help toward fulfilling the 10-course requirement for a major and still allow me to graduate in May 2011, I talked with Dr. Crowley, my academic advisor and the women’s and gender studies program director, about proposing an individualized major. She was incredibly supportive and guided me whenever necessary.

In my proposal, I listed the classes that would comprise my major, identified a capstone experience, suggested how to assess the major’s effectiveness and wrote a short essay on why the major was appropriate and of interest. Because women’s and gender studies is an established program with a consistent course rotation, and because I’m not the first person to self-design this major, compiling the proposal was not nearly as challenging as I had anticipated.

Three professors signed off on my proposal; then it was up to the dean of the college to fully accept, conditionally accept, or reject it. My application was conditionally accepted pending more extensive development of my capstone project, an independent study about sex work in literature, media and culture.

I’m thrilled that I was able to craft my own major, and I encourage others to consider doing so, too. It’s a great way to freely explore your academic interests and to find a course of study that has you doing what you love.

Summer 2010 Magazine

Web extraLook here for web-only content that expands on topics presented in the current St. Norbert College Magazine (PDF).

Text ExtraThe education of a freshman president
Reflections by President Tom Kunkel in Trusteeship magazine.

VideoJohn M. Perkins speaks
The civil rights statesman interviewed on campus.

VideoPaul Tagliabue opens Sport and Society conference
The former NFL commissioner delivers his keynote address.

GalleryCommencement 2010
A gallery of images from “a ridiculously fine day” in May.

GalleryGwen Ifill’s Commencement address
The journalist and newscaster spoke to the Class of 2010.

VideoOn the road
Images and reflections from a sabbatical journey undertaken
by Brian Pirman (Art).

Text ExtraThe Yogurt Man Cometh
A chapter to enjoy from this travelogue in Turkey, recounted by author Kevin Revolinski ’90.

GalleryThe faculty in action
Professors as educators: teaching, advising, demonstrating, mentoring and working with students.

Story ideas? Your ideas for future magazine stories are most welcome. Write to the editor with any suggestions or comments.

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