Last Friday afternoon, I was hacking away at Chinese privet in a national park with a lopper, a cutting tool. This deciduous shrub has taken over large swaths of the Rural Plains unit of Richmond National Battlefield Park. This isn't a normal way to start the weekend, even for a Richmond student, but when you're studying invasive species removal, the best way to learn is to do it.
One of the best decisions I've made at UR is deciding to minor in environmental studies. After realizing I wasn't quite up to being pre-med at the end of my freshman year, I still longed to keep feeding my strong interest in science. Growing up exploring the forest by my neighborhood, reading National Geographic and watching nature documentaries had made studying Earth and its creatures an attractive option, and so with some trepidation, I signed up for a class.
Now, I'm in my third semester of studying ES, and I've been able to learn how to use GPS, see how dirty the lake really is and travel to Richmond National Battlefield Park for a trip that (thankfully) took place right after the end of the government shutdown. Although I still hope to work in journalism, having a science background broadens my resume, and might even land me that job at National Geographic I've dreamed of. But perhaps most importantly, it's really damn fun.
I bored you with my class schedule to say one thing: This school has the opportunities for you to pursue your passion AND a career. As that magical time for class registration approaches, it may be time to consider studying your forgotten passion. Journalism and environmental studies is just one example of an odd, but fitting, pairing of fields.
Despite my initial confusion, pre-med is NOT a major, and you definitely don't need to have biology or chemistry written on your diploma to become a doctor. You can major in art history, and take all the required classes as your electives. And from what I've heard in the news, med schools are looking to diversify the academic backgrounds of their student bodies.
Do you annoy your roommate with your late-night guitar or sneak into the practice rooms in Booker to rock out on your bassoon? Richmond's music department is varied, friendly and top-notch. You can take private lessons for nearly every instrument from organ to sitar to harpsichord, and they count as credit. You can sign up for a basic theory class (as I plan to) to figure out how the hell musicians understand those dots and squiggles on paper, or learn to play jazz, bluegrass or even Brazilian bossa nova in low-key ensembles.
Have an untapped skill with tongues? Been to every screening of the International Film Series (even the repeats)? Trying a new language might be good for you. A lot of students at UR are smart enough to be able to test out of the language requirement with their high school knowledge, but that can free up more space to be adventurous. While the average American school offers Spanish, French and sometimes German (or Latin if you've been paying tuition since kindergarten), at UR, you can study Russian, Japanese, Portuguese and even Swahili or Turkish. As I learned in Japanese, "Sugoi!"
You need 35 units to graduate from Richmond, and your major and gen-eds will take up only about 25 of those. So seize the opportunity to do or learn something crazy, and then write about it to The Collegian!
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