I am nearing the end of my Sophomore year at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and facing the scary truth that I am nearly half done with college, nearly half of the way to graduating. Wow. I can still clearly remember the stress, nervous excitement, and freedom that I was feeling as I applied to schools over two years ago, it really doesn't seem that far away. When I was 17 I could never have imagined the ways that college would shape the person I am becoming, but as I look back on my first couple of years, I can pinpoint specific classes that widened my mind and made me a better learner and person.
I am interested in community health education, understanding and correcting health inequities, and incorporating traditional herbal healing methods into modern medicine. These are interests that I never knew I had, because I was never able to explore them in high school. But UMass gave me the chance to take classes that introduced me to the things I am passionate about and the work I am good at doing. I'm not saying that you will develop these same interests, of course not! What I'm saying is that college will expose you to new things and that you will find new passions and skills that you never even knew you had.
If you choose to participate in the Jump! program for incoming UMass undergraduates or in one of our many pre-college programs for high schoolers, you will get a good idea of what college academics are like. I want to tell you about some of my favorite UMass classes and get you excited for the endless possibilities that you will experience when you come to college, wherever you go!
1. Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies 187: Gender, Sexuality and Culture with Professor Alexandrina Deschamps
This was one of the first classes I took at UMass and I still think about it all the time. I was lucky enough to enroll in this class when it was taught by Dr. Alexandrina Deschamps, a distinguished faculty member and the Associate Dean of recruitment and diversity for the Commonwealth Honors college. I had been considering myself a feminist for a while at this point but I didn't know exactly what that meant. This class showed me that the experiences that I have as a woman can be turned into theory to form solidarity and build relationships. I realized the power that I had as a woman and as a student. Further, I got the chance to get to know Professor Deschamps on an academic and personal level. Building relationships with your professors is very important, but it's also fun! Professor Deschamps is an amazing resource and friend to have on campus.