For These Students, Interdisciplinary Studies Was a Savior

Nicole Greenwood
Nicole Greenwood

After bouncing from two universities and five majors, Nicole Greenwood was on the verge of dropping out entirely. Luckily, she met with Dr. Will McConnell who told her that the attributes that made it difficult to find the right major were qualities that the Interdisciplinary Studies (INDS) program celebrated.

“That first meeting with Will was hugely inspirational,” Nicole states. “By the time I decided other majors weren’t for me I was in too deep, I’d have to stay in college two to three years longer and choose a major that wouldn’t recognize the classes I’d already completed.”

Crystal Ozonian
Crystal Ozonian

Nicole was concerned she’d have to focus on some of her interests while leaving out others that she felt were integral to building a strong graduating portfolio. She was ready to leave college altogether when she learned how INDS fit her entrepreneurial vision. “INDS is for students who couldn’t triple major,” she observes, but quickly clarifies that INDS is about more than just finding a major that can get you a job. “It’s about figuring out what you want to provide to the world.” Nicole’s combined studies in media technology, 3D design, and communications appealed to the solar company NRG Clean Power, which recruited her to act as a project coordinator. She eventually wants to obtain her contractor’s license and work with her research partner, INDS major Kendra Quandra, to build sustainable developments.

For Crystal Ozonian, INDS gave her the confidence to continue a college career that had ended at the AA stage. After completing an Associate’s degree at the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising she planned to stop school altogether. “I thought school wasn’t for me. My grades weren’t great, and I didn’t have confidence.” A family friend who knew Dr. McConnell suggested Crystal meet with him. The meeting, she explained, was more like a three-hour therapy session, and it changed her self-perception as a student.

She began to think that she could excel in college, she just hadn’t found the right program to help her do that. Dr. McConnell observed specific performance patterns in which she received As in classes that interested her, and Cs in others. He helped her develop a three-pronged major program in fashion marketing, fashion design, and, important for Crystal, sustainability. This curricular agenda enabled her to take classes necessary to prepare her for a career that requires flexibility and multiple skill sets. “I believe it’s important to be versed in more than one discipline,” Crystal says. “Because someone our age is going to go through so many different jobs, and if you take one major track you won’t be as prepared.”

Crystal also points to INDS courses as important confidence-builders. Writing projects that encouraged her to explore her personal journey helped her develop a future educational trajectory, and career-mapping put her on the right path. She began to speak up, participate, and make connections with other students through group projects.

Crystal graduated in 2019 with high honors and plans to attend graduate school. If she hadn’t found INDS she believes she’d still be looking for a job. Instead, Crystal is celebrating her accomplishments with the understanding that she can reach even greater heights.

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