“Hi! I’m Emily, a junior from just outside of Danbury, Connecticut double majoring in biology and Spanish with a minor in German.”
As a campus tour guide, this is how most visitors meet me during a tour of Tufts. It’s the classic first line, intended to help people identify with me in some way: maybe they are from the same part of the country; maybe they also want to major in biology; maybe they notice something else first.
When I first became a tour guide, I had yet to declare my major, but I often introduced myself as a bio major to facilitate the conversation; I thought it sounded more official that way. Having returned from Tufts-in-Madrid, I have now declared my Spanish major, but my German minor remains undeclared. Nevertheless, I like to include it because I think that doing so helps give people a more well-rounded perception of who I am.
As soon as people hear I’m a bio major, their mind jumps to the pre-med or research tracks, but I’ve always longed to explore other avenues, like healthcare marketing, administration, and teaching, and I’m hoping to discover more during my last three semesters. It can be difficult to find the words to explain what I love so much about biology, but I think I’ve finally figured it out: the way of thinking--of analyzing a process step-by-step and looking at the effects when different factors change--is something I find both challenging and exhilarating, and I hope to replicate it in my future career.
Beyond just that, I’ve found great people within the biology major: everyone is equally as curious about what we’re learning, and I’ve made good friends through our shared experiences, whether it’s whispered explanations of tough concepts during lecture or late-night problem set comparisons before the due date.
Focusing on my Spanish major while abroad in Madrid last semester gave me a new perspective on my studies. I had the chance to experience what it might feel like to put Spanish first, and I found myself more comfortable than I had expected. Throughout each of my five semesters at Tufts, I’ve learned more about myself and the world around me, and I’m coming around to the point of view that your major isn’t everything. Yes, I love biology, and yes, it’s teaching me the skills I need for my future career (whatever it may be), but just because I’m majoring in something doesn’t mean I’m tossing away everything else. If there’s one place that encourages this interdisciplinary mindset, it’s Tufts: the people I’ve met here are passionate about what they’re doing in the moment, and they allow their varied interests to define rather than limit them.
So personally, while I’ll probably continue to wrestle with the limitations inherent to describing my studies with just one word, I now recognize the word--or words, with a double major--does not have to limit me. Study what you want to study; join the clubs you’re passionate about; do what makes you happy, because at the end of the day, you get to make your college experience what you want, regardless of the words on your diploma that describe it.