Posted on: October 23, 2012

“I don’t feel that it is necessary to know exactly what I am. The main interest in life and work is to become someone else that you were not in the beginning. If you knew when you began a book what you would say at the end, do you think that you would have the courage to write it? What is true for writing and for love is true also for life. The game is worthwhile insofar as we don’t know what will be the end.” -Foucault

Since sophomore year started, I feel like I can’t even check Facebook anymore without reading that someone has declared a major or minor ahead of the spring deadline.  I, on the other hand, am still trying to figure out what I’m going to do with the next three years, and my life for the foreseeable future.   

And if that isn’t daunting enough, registration for next semester is coming in a week, and I have to start picking classes that count towards possible majors and minors.  Maybe I’ll double-major and triple-minor in true Brandeis style, or maybe I’ll do an IIM (self designed interdisciplinary major) like some people have said.  What I do know is this: I am a writer, a thinker, and a social activist/humanitarian who cares about the issues of the page and the world.  So this is me doing what I do best – ironing out my thoughts and indecisions in writing.


This is the one decision I’m already set on: I am minoring in Journalism.  The minor either leads to a senior internship or a research project, plus the real-life (to a degree) experience I am gaining on the Hoot and as an assistant at the Schuster Institute for Investigative Journalism.  The only problem is the one that still has me in denial as an avid writer: that paper publications are fading away (even Newsweek is going out of print this year).  So there’s always communications/PR or social media marketing.  When I met Tom Brokaw at a Holocaust Museum dinner once, he said to me, “The future of journalism is in the Internet.”  So with that advice in mind, I pick up my journalist’s notebook and go forward.      


When I applied to college, my default plan was to major in English.  I still love literature and the written word, and even those eccentric professors who change students’ lives in the end.  English could be one reason to go study abroad in Great Britain (London or maybe even Scotland), which I’ve always wanted to do.  I am really an Anglophile and an old eccentric British lady at heart.  So English is either a definite major, or minor. 

American Studies

American Studies is such a broad and flexible major that really anyone can pursue any interest within it.  There are professors who are experts on the Chicago World’s Fair of 1893, or periods of American history and culture, or journalism, legal studies, or even sports.  If I pursue this as one of my paths, I’d focus on modern and historical elements of American culture/society and the media, because it is important for me to stay current.  There are actually plenty of people who pursue the AMST and journalism track as one path, and I could easily become one. 


I read an essay once that said (paraphrasing this a bit) “If you are someone who passes through a new town and instantly becomes curious about the lives of the people inside, then sociology is for you.”  I swear that writer read my mind. 

It was actually Introduction to Anthropology, my first social science class at Brandeis, that showed me that what I instinctively do in new places and locales – watching people, observing their most significant actions and rituals, asking questions, and trying to become part of the group in order to understand it (“the art of belonging” according to my family) – is exactly what sociologists do.  I am a social observer, and I even find myself thinking like a sociologist when I’m not required to. 

So far my Sociology courses have explored whether war is inevitable or even necessary (War and Possibilities of Peace, which is a total throwback to the sixties, and I recommend it), and Sociology of the American Jewish Community, where I can sociologically reflect on what it means to watch the more religious Jews at Brandeis living a very different lifestyle within my own culture.  I notice that the social observation process is actually a lot like the investigative part of journalism, and marketing is a lot like applied sociology.  So I have options here.    


Health Science, Society, and Policy sounds like an unlikely choice for a humanities type, but it really isn’t, and this is why. 

Anthropology and Judaism both teach that every life is worth saving and every culture has intrinsic value even if it’s different from what we believe – two ideas that get me interested in medical ethics, systems of healthcare and medicine, and how they work. 

Health care is probably the biggest issue of this election and time, because EVERYONE, even people in perfect condition, will need health care at some point in their lives, and I believe no one’s health should be determined by what they were born into – gender or social class.  In this economy, healthcare jobs will never go away because we will all need it.  I also better understand the politics of healthcare now, thanks to videos watched at the Schneider campaign office, and discussions on that historic day when the Supreme Court ruled to uphold Obamacare.

So there are 2 interdisciplinary HSSP tracks for people who care about health but aren’t headed for medical school: Social and Behavioral Dimensions of Health and Illness, or Health-Care Policy and Practice.  One is more social-cultural and could point me towards more psychology and sociology classes, which overlap with HSSP.  The other is more about politics and the environment, and I could at least try either one.  Brandeis is also working on a “Global Health and Ethics” program, which could be the answer for me. 

So who knows where any of this will lead me.  Some days a possible path seems as clear as day, then other days I feel no more sure than a 4-year-old telling her preschool class that she wants to be Big Bird when she grows up.  (This actually happened in my preschool class.  Now what will become of her if Mitt Romney cuts PBS?)

I’m just taking my life plans one day at a time.  And that’s the way it is.    

Laying Out A Map For The Next Three Years


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