Welcome all new Beavers! My name is Alison Blazer and I’m a sophomore majoring in Speech Communication. Having only one year of Oregon State under my belt, I was not too long ago new to this campus, just like you.
Here in the Beaver Nation, there’s a rather large contingency of engineering students, pre-pharmacy students, animal science students etc. While each and every one of these subjects holds importance in society today, I want you all to keep in mind that being a student of the College of Liberal Arts is just as key a position to hold.
I came to OSU as an English major, and switched later on to a major in Speech Communication. My whole life I have been interested in working with people on a more interpersonal level than many math and science students care to do. Now I’m not saying that students who delve deeper into those more fact-based subjects are in any way lacking intelligence. The fact is that, my freshman year, I was regarded as the one lacking intelligence!
With engineering being a main focus at Oregon State, I continuously ran into students doubting the importance of what I do. People would rhetorically ask me “Why would you ever major in Communications?” as if just to get a rise out of me.
My personal interest in this endless battle comes from the inherent label of “slacker” being thrown about when it comes to students studying the liberal arts. I, along with many of my liberal arts peers, rarely show a strong interest in anything math or science related, mainly because such subjects don’t seem worthwhile or invigorating. On the other hand, skeptics of the liberal arts don’t just express a disinterest in the subject, but rather a discounting of the necessity of the subject as a whole.
The fact is, while math and science are indeed important subjects, I have always been far more intrigued by writing, reading, the study of rhetoric and interpersonal relationships. To some people these focuses may be insignificant, but as long as we CLA students stick together, we can stand up and defend our academic choices.
My first winter term on campus, I was talking with an upperclassman majoring in Civil Engineering. When he asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, I essentially told him that I wanted to work with people, most likely on a college campus, perhaps as the Dean of Student Life or in some other facet of student affairs. He discounted my goals, asking what my work was going to the do for the public. The buildings that he would one day design were going to be used by the public every day. While I acknowledge that engineering, in any form, is a tough topic, the importance and my personal love of Liberal Arts are both things that are sorely misunderstood.
Although my fellow Liberal Arts peers may not design buildings or develop new pharmaceuticals, each of them will surely contribute to society in a positive way. I have now met students here whose wide range of future plans astonish me. Each of them has been working for years toward their goals, whether it’s teaching history to high school students, being a sports news broadcaster or even joining the Peace Corps.
Those students who trek through the rather continuous questioning of their purpose here on campus will go on to serve just as vital a role in society as any other major. A degree in the liberal arts can be molded to fit any type of future, ranging from movie producer to political activist.
As you venture into the wonderful Beaver Nation, remember- CLA is not for everyone, but it is for you! If you have a passion for psychology or philosophy or even the theater arts, embrace what you love and don’t take any flak from your fellow students! After all, we know that they’re just jealous because we’re a bit better with our words.