Finding the Major for You

We are sitting in a circle talking and laughing with one another. I am nursing a cup of tea as if I were in my living room, having a conversation with a close friend about an article I just read. A series of inside jokes flood the conversation, catapulting us into a fit of hysterics.

Although it sounds like I am catching up with some girlfriends over coffee, I am actually sitting in a classroom with the Senior English Capping class. Can you believe it!?

Every major is required to take a capping class to work on a senior capstone project, and I lucked out with one of the best groups of students lead by one of the friendliest and energetic faculty members. The English department is a little smaller compared to some of the other majors on campus, so I have gotten to know my classmates—and professors—extremely well over the last four years. Being in such a comfortable and familiar capping group is a fitting end to my four years at Marist.

While some of my writing assignments as an English major were tedious (I’m talking to you, 30-page senior thesis), the friends I’ve made and the faculty have made my decision to be an English major an extremely worthwhile one. How many people can say they loved learning how to read in Old English? Or got the chills reciting a scene from Macbeth?  My favorite English major moment was when I learned that Marist had not only created a Medieval and Renaissance Studies minor, but that I would be grandfathered into it because I had already taken ¾ of the required classes! This was only topped by the resounding “Yessssssssss” that filled the classroom when Professor Fitzgibbons announced that she would be our capping professor the following spring.


Professor Fitzgibbons has successfully combined everything that we have learned thus far—literary theory, critique, analysis—and has delved into other topics many students have learned while interning, like publishing and editing. The pieces of literature we have read have been really enjoyable so far and have generated tons of discussion about one of our favorite things—the Hudson River Valley. Once you become a senior, you will feel the same way about the Hudson River Valley as I do. It has become my home and I enjoy learning about its history and culture just as much as I appreciate my hometown’s history. In a way, Professor Fitzgibbons is forcing us to reflect upon our last four years in our adopted home that many of us will be leaving behind in May.

Most importantly, Professor Fitzgibbons has challenged me creatively in ways I had never encountered before. She asked each capping group to specify an audience for our project and make sure our writing reflected it. At first, the request seemed easy, but then I realized that I’VE ONLY EVER WRITTEN FOR PROFESSORS! My group has been having so much fun writing a project geared towards middle school students—quite the refreshing change of pace. One of my group-members—as I am writing this—is using Photoshop to create a cover for our project. I have never taken on a project that required such talent and ingenuity. We even decided to try and publish our project together after graduation and promised not to “Zuckerberg” another out of the profits.

ImageIf my nerdiness hasn’t bored you to tears or made you feel embarrassed for me, here is my point: whatever your major is, find a way to love it! If you are a freshman, start talking to the person who sits next to you in class—you’ll never know when you’ll need class notes or help studying for a test. Get to know your professors. Show them your personality and sense of humor during office hours! They will value your interest. If you dread your major and are intimidated by your professors, start talking to upperclassmen about their experiences or about another major.  You want your experience at Marist to be as perfect as possible and because academics are such a huge part of your college experience, make sure you are doing something that you love.


-Samantha Halliday

Marist ’13

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