Figuring out Film Studies

Stephanie Cen ‘20, New York University

I think everyone assumes a lot about what a film major does, but there’s a big variety in what people do with a Film and TV Production major. I personally focus on learning more about filmmaking and creating my own films. 

Deciding on film

It was back in high school during my senior year when I had to make a documentary for my film class. It was a group project, but I really wanted to do a documentary about Autism since people were using it as a derogatory term and unaware of what it really is. This was also a very personal project since I focused this documentary on my brother who is diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. After making this documentary, I realized that I enjoyed making a film that I was so passionate about and wanted to tell more stories like this to the world.

Favorite project

Definitely this “music video” project that I did about culture clash. The entire process when making it was super surreal. I unfortunately didn’t have a well-written script, but someone came on board to write a song for it. Actors were helping me cast the right actors. People were willing to work on this project because they supported the story and wanted to see it happen. I think that was the biggest moment I’ve ever experienced; if I didn’t have the support to do it, I don’t know how else I could’ve done it. 

Some classes I’ve taken

  • Sight and Sound: Filmmaking 
  • Fundamentals of Visual and Dramatic Writing
  • Intro to TV Writing

Career paths

There are so MANY paths that it’s more about what you want to do. People in my major can go on to editors, cinematographers, animators, actors, writers, directors, producers, and more. It’s really all up to you. I want to become a writer-director that tells stories that bring awareness to issues that are going on today. I want to tell heart-warming stories that make an impact, and more importantly, make someone think. 

Tips for future majors

I’ve actually done this many times, and all I can say is if you really want to be a filmmaker or animator, then this is for you. And I wish someone had told me this, but it’s really what you make of it and you just have to be proactive. 

Breaking the Code: Computer Science

Srikar Karra ‘23, University of California Berkeley

My major, Computer Science, involves coding (mostly in Python) and developing programs and executing code in order to simplify tasks. The main job prospect for CS majors is as a software engineer.

Choosing Computer Science

UC Berkeley is known for its top notch Computer Science program so getting into Berkeley confirmed that I was definitely going to major in Computer Science. Prior to getting accepted, I really thought about becoming a CS Major since there are many job prospects and CS is a rapidly growing field in this century. I also really enjoyed coding throughout high school and took many Computer Science classes.

Favorite project

My favorite project was making a small game in PyCharm. I made a small game similar to Flappy Bird and got all my friends to play it. I developed and created the project in a platform called Unity on my Mac. It took us about a week to complete the project. My friend made the designs while I took care of the coding and implementation. Building my own game was very fun and I learned how other creators think and make their own games. It gave me a different perspective. 

Major culture

The CS department at Berkeley is huge – probably even the biggest in the entire college. The culture is amazing. Everyone works really hard and love what they do. It is very easy to find people around you to help you out as well if you ever need it. A lot of my friends are also in Computer Science here at Berkeley. They all love programming just like I do and they really enjoy all the facilities and opportunities Berkeley offers for CS majors.

Career goals

I hope to become a software engineer for a Forbes 500 company. My ultimate dream is to be able to start my own company and provide software tools for other top companies. Graduating with a computer science degree at Berkeley is not an easy feat. It requires a lot of persistence, hard work, resilience and most importantly, patience. These are all life skills that are very important to have. Some other examples of jobs that CS students can get are a Mobile Application Developer, Software Engineer, Systems Architect, Machine Learning Engineer and a Data Engineer

Similar majors

A lot of people who don’t want to do Computer Science choose to pursue a degree in Data Science or Cognitive Science which are also very similar and growing fields. Personally, I considered majoring in Economics or Finance, but I will probably end up minoring in them for now.

Beyond Numbers: Applied Mathematics

Mateo Dordi ‘23, University of California Berkeley

I major in Applied Mathematics at UC Berkeley. It’s the application of mathematical methods by different fields such as science, engineering, business, computer science, and industry. I’ve always enjoyed doing math and it was something that came naturally to me so I decided to make it my major.

Favorite class

I am currently taking Math 53 here at Berkeley which is Multi Variable Calculus. In high school, I took AP Calculus AB/BC in the 11th grade which really peaked my interest for math. I enjoyed working through each problem and really understanding the fundamentals and basics behind each and every problem in math. It showed me the simplicity and beauty behind mathematics and its implications in our day to day life. 

Favorite project

Though I didn’t really complete any projects, I did work on proving a theorem in Calculus class which was really fun, even though it took my friend and I almost a week to complete it.

Major culture

The department is a little smaller than the big name majors, but there are still a plethora of facilities and research opportunities for math majors to pursue. There aren’t too many applied math majors I know here but a lot of people I know are taking the same level math class as I am. The few people that are majoring in math really love the faculty. They’re very helpful since it’s a smaller program compared to something like Computer Science.

Career goals

Math is in every single thing that you do. It teaches you valuable lessons and if you can get a math degree, you can pretty much do anything. I hope to eventually get into software and use the math knowledge I have to advance the company I am working at. Some other fields that math majors can get into include being Statisticians, Mathematicians, Math Professors, and basically anything Economics or Finance related.

Becoming a Triple Threat: Musical Theater Majors

Amaya White ‘22, Montclair State University

I’m a BFA musical theater major at Montclair State University. A musical theater major works on developing their skills to become a triple threat: a singer, dancer, and an actor. Many people describe it as a double major because of the workload. You also receive knowledge on becoming a better musician, dancer, and a performer in general.

Deciding on musical theater

I’ve always enjoyed performing, whether it was in my church choir, reading in class, or in a musical. I love the rush of excitement I get when I can show off my talents and make other people feel better or learn something new. The fact that I can go to college and take classes that help me develop my craft was very intriguing. 

Favorite project

My favorite project that I worked on for my major was my final presentation for my first semester acting class freshman year. I really enjoyed it because we had been developing this scene for the entire semester. Seeing how the different techniques we learned came into play was really exciting. It’s nice to know and feel growth within yourself. 

Friends in my major

As a musical theater major most of your classes are with the same people, aside from general education courses like writing. My class is very supportive and tight knit group of people. My friend Vanessa says one of the highlights of our major is “getting to do what I love to do with other people who have the same goals and aspirations.” It’s inspiring to see your classmates thrive and to work with other people who are just as eager as you. 

Career paths

Musical theater students learn many practical skills in addition to their required vocal, acting, and dance courses. For example, in order to be a performer one must be able to engage with people and do public speaking. People within this major can become directors, teachers, choreographers, or musicians.  

I intend to continue performing wherever I can, whether that’s on Broadway, on TV, on a Netflix series, or in a film. Hopefully, I will originate a role on Broadway as well as do a tour or cruise line. I love traveling and having the opportunity to use my talents in various places while getting paid is a dream of mine.

Common misconceptions

I believe getting a degree in musical theater is very beneficial because you can fail in a safe space before going into the real world. Auditions for tours, films, etc. are very high stakes. There have been times when I have completely fallen on my face, but I’ve learned from those experiences. I have to have a tough skin and get back up and try again. Often in the theater industry you will get many people telling you “no,” so it’s important to learn to take that with a grain of salt and keep striving toward your dreams.

My school also brings in various actors, directors, and choreographers from New York City that we can work with and receive feedback from. This is really important in this industry because you can network and create some great connections to find work right after graduating. It’s also helped me learn how to work with people who have different approaches to acting. 

Tips for future majors

If you’re intending to go to school for musical theater, congratulations! You are very brave. I would do as much research as possible on different schools and which degrees you can obtain, including a BA (Bachelor of Arts), BFA (Bachelor of Fine Arts), or BM (Bachelor of Music). You should also figure out what kind of training you prefer: college (which focuses on teaching you skills), and conservatory (which focuses on connecting you with jobs). Also, when things become difficult, just believe in your craft and your abilities. People want to see you to succeed, they don’t want to say no to you.

Tech Meets Business: My CIS Major

Nirmeet Bhogill ‘19, Cal Poly Pomona

My major is Computer Information Systems. I would describe my major as ‘the business of technology’. I actually came in as a Computer Science major, which is much more technical and consists of coding to create software programs. During my COM 100 class (general-ed communications), we had to present on an app of our choice. The process of researching the technology and industry, and then presenting to the class to convince them to invest in the app, was such an enlightening experience for me. I really, thoroughly enjoyed the project, which pushed me to change my major to CIS. I had discovered my passion for the business side of technology.

Favorite class

My favorite class I’ve taken within my major has to be Data Analytics/Business Intelligence. I really enjoyed it because we learned how to analyze data and interpret it in unique ways to gain new insights. I was really interested in this class because it taught me that solving a problem within a team or company is much more than just finding a solution and using it. It’s about analyzing different perspectives and also predicting which solution will be the best to be as prepared as possible.

What my friends think

I do have quite a few friends within my major. I think the most ‘liked’ part in my major is that it is the perfect medium between tech and business. Most people either do Computer Science or Marketing/Business. However, with CIS, you get the best of both worlds.

Career paths

There are a variety of career paths to choose from. CIS tends to emphasize solving business problems with computing technology. The vast field can include the development of strategic information systems, implementation of enterprise-wide systems, or creation of Web 2.0 apps. App development typically involves programming to build interactive web services. Information Security, or Cyber-security, involves learning to protect computer systems and networks from various attacks. The third main region of CIS is Business Intelligence, also called Data Analytics, which lets organizations make the best calculated business decisions based on data patterns and trends. In Data Analytics, you organize raw data to be interpreted by the core employees. These interactive graphs and charts provide insight into the company’s performance, and give the organization a more detailed explanation of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Life after college

I hope to go into technical product marketing with my major. I really enjoy doing product marketing/management, but specifically for technical products since I have a lot of knowledge about technology. My goal is to eventually be a part of top tier companies such as Google, Microsoft, Facebook, etc.

I think my major will prepare me for life after college because it’s given me a good foundation in technology. Since I want to go into business or marketing, especially for technical products, I think it’s really beneficial for me to have a strong curriculum knowledge of technology fundamentals.

Tips for future majors

Just because you aren’t super extroverted or outgoing, doesn’t mean you can’t do business. It’s such a common misconception, and honestly it’s one that I believed in too. I was quite introverted in high school, so I automatically thought business wasn’t for me. It involves being ‘naturally charming and enthusiastic’, which is true, but to an extent. Aside from the fact that your personality will definitely mature in college, you don’t need to be an extreme extrovert to do business. As long as you do what you enjoy and are passionate in, your true personality and dedication will shine through!

Mastering Media Studies

Osmanee Offre ‘21, New York University

I am currently majoring in Media, Culture, and Communication or MCC for short. My major focuses around media studies. For the first year and a half the curriculum covers the basics of media theory. These core classes introduce several theories about how an audience is created, how media shapes who we are, and the history of all types of media forms from radio to television. Once you’ve taken the required courses, you can study any form of media that you want to go into. People from my major go on to pursue careers in everything from marketing and public relations to film and TV.   

Choosing Media Studies

I originally wanted to major in English since it was always one of my strongest subjects throughout school. The more I thought about it though, the more I realized that I wanted to incorporate my love for literature, film, TV, art, and writing into my future career. Media studies was the best path for me, since it incorporates most of my passions, and is becoming increasingly relevant. 

Favorite class

My favorite class that I’ve taken in my major is Intro to Media Studies. Even though it was my first MCC class, it was the most pivotal moment because I realized that I was exactly where I should be. Our professor presented us with fundamental concepts that have forever changed the way that I think about media. Not only did the class present core concepts that I apply to my life on a daily basis, but it was also taught in a manner that isn’t outdated and treated the students like adults. 

Favorite project

Since my field of study involves visual media, I was able to take a photography class. My favorite project was our final project where we developed a series of 4 to 10 photographs around a central theme of our choice. As part of the project, we had to present our photographs at an exhibition for our peers. It was my favorite project because we got to fully express ourselves through any concept or theme that spoke to us personally. It was also satisfying to be able to have the exhibition and talk to our peers about our work.  

Common misconceptions

A common misconception about my major is that it’s going to be super easy. In reality, media and media theory are dense concepts to dissect and study. While it isn’t bio-engineering, you still have to have a high degree of analytical skills and be willing to put forth the work in order to succeed. Some analytical skills that I use as part of my major are deciphering the intended audiences of media content, decoding underlying messages in mass media, and determining cultural themes throughout history that influence subject matter and representation in media.

Career paths

Some possible career paths are marketing, public relations, social media, film and tv production, and communications. I hope to go into producing and writing for film and TV. My main goal is to find a way to develop original, artistic content that can be successful in the market. I think that my major has prepared me not only to develop successful content that is conscious and deliberate, but also has positively impacted the way that I think and engage with media, which is a major part of my life. 

Tips for future majors

My advice would be to stay curious. Be present in class, especially since those professors are in the industry and are great resources for recommendation letters and advice. The people that you make connections with are going to be as valuable as the degree that you get. 

A Future in Finance

Victoria Medina ‘22, Florida State University

Finance is all about the behind the scenes of a business! It includes how businesses make money, how they obtain the goods they are going to sell, and how they record all of this information in compliance with certain financial standards.

High school connections

High school really influenced my decision to pursue Finance. I was in a business club called DECA where  I completed a project called “Learn and Earn.” The whole concept of the project was to create a small business that would solve a problem in your high school. I competed with this project at both state and national levels, pitching my business idea to panels of judges. 

When I got to college and started taking business classes, I realized how fascinated I was with all the different parts that go into starting and running a business. This made me even want to start my own company! I soon settled on finance because of how much I enjoyed learning about the financial aspects of companies.

Favorite project

My favorite project I worked on for my major was filling out financial statements for a specific company. I really enjoyed seeing what a job might look like in the Finance realm in my future. Besides that, it allowed me to take a deeper look into everything a business does in order to run smoothly.

Future in Finance

I hope to work for a big corporation in their auditing sector after graduating. Further down the line from that, my dream is to own my own business. I plan to take everything I learn from my major and use it toward starting my own clothing company, or something in the fashion industry.

Common misconceptions

One common misconception about my major is it’s really hard and boring. I think it’s all about mindset. If you are interested in what you are learning and choose to put the time into it, nothing is as hard as it seems!

Career paths

There are many career paths available to those with a finance major. You can try stocks, commercial loans, financial analysis, investment advising, financial consulting, international trade, and so many more!

Tips for future majors

One major piece of advice I have for students looking to go into Finance is to not be scared of the hard prerequisites! I have talked to so many people who told me they don’t want to go into Finance or some other business majors because of the required math classes. I wouldn’t avoid a major that might help you achieve your goals just because a couple classes might scare you!

Literatura y Cultura: Studying Spanish

Sam Savello ‘18, Brown University

I was a Hispanic Literature and Culture major at Brown. It’s basically like an English major, but everything we read and wrote was in Spanish. The curriculum was very diverse: we analyzed Latin American film and poetry, studied the history of Spain, and delved into Spanish-English translation. I learned a lot about Spanish and Latin America culture, including topics such as immigration policies, stereotypes, identity issues, and traditions. 

Choosing Spanish

At the end of my freshman year, the only class I had actually enjoyed was my Spanish class. In high school, I loved taking AP Spanish, so my advisor suggested I continue taking Spanish classes and see what happened. I didn’t really think it would become my major, but I ended up falling in love with it. 

Favorite class

I enjoyed so many of my classes, but my favorite was called “Hispanics in the US”. The class explored the immigration trends of Latin Americans living in the US. We studied various Latinx-driven civil rights movements and the literature that surrounded them. We read the work “Puerto Rican Obituary” by Pedro Pietri, a slam poem that discusses the experience of Puerto Rican immigrants living in New York and the issues they faced as they navigated a new country. This is what inspired my senior thesis.

Favorite project

My favorite project was my thesis. It was so interesting to explore Nuyorican (New York-Puerto Rican) poetry. I got to sit down and interview Noel Quiñones, who is a big name in the Nuyorican poetry space. In his poem “8 Confessions of my Tongue,” he discusses his identity struggles and explains how out of place he feels in the Latinx community because he doesn’t know Spanish. I spoke with him out his identity struggle and how he feels stuck between two islands: Manhattan and Puerto Rico. It was an incredible experience and I learned a lot about myself and my family’s experience as well. 

Making friends

I think the other students and I liked the major because it was very intimate and the professors were incredible. We had so many amazing classes to choose from and because they were so small, we had the opportunity to share our ideas with one another and really engage in a language, that for many of us, was not our first.

Career paths

Hispanic Culture and Literature provides students with a strong set of critical thinking and communication skills that can be applied to a variety of occupations. Communications, marketing, translation, and international relations are just a few options for career paths. Knowing a second language will help in almost any job field and can help lead to more opportunities in international locations. 

Similar majors

One closely related major is comparative literature. It’s pretty much the same thing except it involves studying literature in three different languages. There’s also Latin American Studies, where you study about Latin America but can take most of your classes in English. Ethnic Studies and American Studies are two majors that are also relevant, as they deal largely with social issues, cultural representation and history. 

Tips for future Spanish majors

Don’t feel intimidated. There might be students who grew up speaking Spanish in a lot of your classes, but if it’s not your first language, don’t feel like you can’t do it. It’s a learning process and it really helps you to build up your confidence and refine your communication skills. Studying abroad can be a great way to do this too. You’ll gain hands-on experience within the Spanish-speaking world and allow you to fully immerse yourself in a new culture.  

Anthropology: A Crash Course in Culture Studies

Jeremy Caldwell ‘19, Tufts University

I graduated in May with a degree in anthropology. A lot of people don’t know what that means, and to be fair, I really didn’t know either, even after I declared my major. Anthropology is basically culture studies. You can learn about religions, rituals, artifacts, languages, and the day-to-day life of people around the world by studying how they learn, how they act, and how they interact with each other. Especially as the world becomes more connected, it’s really helpful to know about different ways of life, thinking, and belief that surround us. 

Choosing anthropology

I’ve always loved studying different cultures. One day during my freshman year my RA overheard me talking about religious rituals from ancient Greece, and she said that I would be a great anthropology major. She brought me to a department lunch the following week and introduced me to some of her friends. I fell in love with the program immediately.

High school connections

One of my favorite classes in high school was AP Human Geography. I didn’t know that it was connected to anthropology, but I really enjoyed learning about the connections between cultures, nations, religions, languages, and people. Now I know that it lead me to my major!

Favorite class

My favorite class was called Indigenous People and Environmental Change. We learned how climate change is affecting indigenous peoples around the world, despite those cultures’ strong connections to the environment over tens of thousands of years. My professor previously worked with the UN and the Smithsonian, and she taught us a lot about unjust power structures and how indigenous knowledge could help end the global warming crisis.

Favorite project

My favorite project was a 20-page research paper I wrote on the history of tattoos in America, especially among teenagers. I interviewed 30 of my friends with tattoos and learned about the significance behind each of their tattoos. Afterwards, I proposed my own theory about how millennials use tattoos to express their identity. I had to work really hard, but I was so proud when I finished.

Career paths

I’ll be honest, when I first declared my major my parents were a bit concerned. In the past, anthropologists tended to only do ethnographic research and write dissertations about their research. Luckily, the field is rapidly expanding right now. When you think of anthropology as culture studies, it can be applied to so many different fields. I know other students that have gone to work in human resources, communications, museum studies, market research, education, film, and even medicine. Think of anthropology like a set of tools you can bring to many fields, rather than a narrow career path. 

Similar majors

Anthropology is pretty closely connected to sociology, psychology, and religious studies. I also see some connections to international relations, political science, and archaeology. I paired my anthropology major with film and media studies, so I learned a lot about how representation in the media matters. 

Tips for future majors

I think anthropology is more fun when there are fewer rules. Look for schools with smaller class sizes so you can really engage with your peers and professors. And the more anthropology courses they offer, the better! It’s such a broad major, so there’s plenty of things to learn and try.

Dive into Marine Biology

Ashley Fortune ‘23, College of the Holy Cross

Although the summertime is recognized as a time for travel and enjoyment, it can also be a time when you embark on a learning journey. One of my most memorable summer experiences was not at a beach, but in a lab, researching marine life!

I spent last summer participating in a six-week paid internship at Boston University. The all-female STEM program was called GROW (Greater Boston Area Research Opportunities For Young Women). There may be similar enrichment programs near you, so go out and search!

Anyway, my lab, under my mentors James Huth and Chris Thomas, and Professor Cynthia Bradham, focused on studying the embryonic development of sea urchins. I know, it sounds like a lot, but trust me, it was amazing!  Not only did I get to work in a lab with real instruments and actual sea urchins, but I also got to meet such amazing people along the way. We got to visit the BU Medical School and hear from professors and admission reps about the college experience. 

Most importantly, the group of girls throughout this whole program remain my dear friends. We got to laugh, stress, and learn from each other as we all took part in different fields of STEM. The weeks of working in a lab and doing amazing experiments was surely a high school highlight! 

So don’t succumb to the idea that the summer is all about enjoying the beach or the pool. Search for and take advantage of all the academic opportunities you’re interested in! You will meet wonderful people, experience amazing things, expand your mind and find a new sense of self.