Did you have friends in high school who a.) have always known exactly what they wanted to do or b.) thought they knew what they wanted to do and changed it every month? I was neither of those. I did not know what I wanted to study in college for the longest time and I was so worried about committing to something and then changing my mind.
I am pursuing an Economics and Statistics dual major here at Pitt, but the journey to that decision was much more of a very long process of elimination than a quick decision.
In tenth grade, I realized that I hated chemistry. No offense to chemistry majors but learning about molecular bonds was just not for me. One of my favorite parts of chemistry was balancing equations, which I have been told is a weird thing to say. Despite having to sit through a year of chemistry, at least I knew that a medical career was not for me. I also took a video production class in tenth grade, which I absolutely loved. I did briefly consider a career in film or TV production, but I knew that as someone who values stability, that wasn’t the best path for me. I still love being involved in these types of creative pursuits in my free time (here at Pitt I write for our late night comedy show—Pitt Tonight!).
As someone who has always been interested in global affairs and studying different cultures and countries, I thought that I wanted to study international relations for a while. Throughout high school I participated in many Model United Nations conferences, which I enjoyed and thought that might be something I would want to pursue as a career. I was never really sure what I actually wanted to do though. I thought international relations and diplomacy was cool, but I wouldn’t say I was passionate about it. Then, in my junior year of high school a former United States ambassador came to speak at my school. Being some kind of ambassador or diplomat was the main career I was considering in international relations. As I listened to him talk about what went into his job, I began having the slow epiphany that this was not in fact a career that I wanted to pursue. I realized that the part of global affairs that I enjoyed—learning about other cultures, traditions, languages—I would much rather do on my own terms, rather than for a government job. This revelation really threw me for a loop. Up until that point, I was at least 75% certain that I would be focusing my college career on international relations. I realized I had to go back to the drawing board.
That same year, I was taking a U.S. History course. When we got to the Great Depression, we very briefly touched on the economic reasoning behind recession and subsequent depression. I had never really thought about economics beyond vague ideas about the investing in the stock market and GDP. The cause-and-effect aspect of the Great Depression was incredibly intriguing to me. I wanted to know more about the countless elements and forces at play that had the capacity to affect so many people in so many ways. Before my senior year, I was a graduate of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Global and International Studies, hosted here at Pitt. There I learned more about commodity chains and capitalism. I took microeconomics and macroeconomics in my senior year of high school, and by that point, I knew economics was something I really enjoyed. Biostatistics was one of my favorite parts of my high school biology class, so it seems like Pitt’s Economics-Statistics degree was fated. Statistics gives me more tools to explore the ideas in economics that fascinate me.
I am also pursuing the Honors joint degree. In my two years at Pitt, I have taken two honors courses, both of which have been incredibly rewarding. I took Honors Intro to Macroeconomics with Dr. James Maloy and Intellectual Foundations of Capitalism with Dr. Leslie Hammond. Taking the Honors College version of Intro to Macro was such a good decision, and I really wish there would have been an Honors Micro course the semester that I took Intro to Micro because I definitely would have taken it. I honestly feel like I got a much deeper understanding of macroeconomic theory and concepts with Dr. Maloy. It was a really interesting class for me, and while the difficulty may have been higher, I truly believe it was worth it. Intellectual Foundations of Capitalism was a history and economics combined section course. While it did require a very large amount of reading and writing, I loved the class. We followed economic thought from its basis in philosophy, through revolutions, labor movements, and the Classical-Keynesian split. We discussed everything from Jean-Jacques Rousseau to Milton Friedman. While I personally wouldn’t want to take an Honors biology course, Honors courses have given me a very comprehensive look into topics that I am interested in.