My Major at Grinnell College
... was not a simple thing.

Below is an essay I wrote on October 16, 1995. I have added just a little bit more information in places where it seemed helpful, but basically this is the same statement as what I wrote three days after changing my major in the middle of my senior year at Grinnell.

For a different view of the story, here are the classes I took.

I am a History Major.

Formerly I was a Physics major

This would have involved taking two physics classes per semester this, my senior year. How did it come to that? Well, my first year here I was "doomed to be a theatre major," in the words of a close friend. I took two years' worth of theatre design classes. Meanwhile a number of my friends turned into Computer geeks and took me with them. I was hired by Grinnell Computing services as a User Consultant, so I thought "this could be a career.." and didn't declare a computer science major, but thought I was going to, put a year of computer sci on top of a year of math and switched to an advisor in the department for my sophomore year because my old advisor (the one that came with my Tutorial, "Visions of Utopia") was going on sabatical anyway.

And then I declared Physics.... doesn't that seem to follow? My physics classes were killing me, and I was taking all these history classes and they're Soooo easy, but I wanted to stick to this physics thing. There are things about the universe I've always resented not knowing. I want to know them, or at least come close. I could have added History on top of it.. I know that sounds like Death, but like I said, history's easy, I was already taking two history classes first semester, and part of the process of knowing science is understanding Humanity's process of developing and living with (using) the same.

So anyway, I may have stayed a Physics Major if I had not gotten seriously sick for three weeks near the beginning of first semester, though I think I shouldn't have anyway..

Having gotten sick, I missed enough of Quantum Mechanics that a minor motivational problem turned huge; I found I really didn't care about the answers to any of the huge stack of problems I had to do. What they implied, perhaps that I cared about, or even how people came to their conclusions or theories. The technical details by themselves were insufficient to hold my interest; the technical details I had wanted to learn since Junior High weren't covered in the course, and I was bitterly disappointed. There. I've said it. *deep breath* So I sucked in my pride and applied to change my major to History.

The application for change of major, including a plan for completion that involves taking three history classes second semester, was stamped "APPROVED" on October 13th. I am now a history major with specialties in Oriental and International studies. Oh, and science of course. My European History professor looked like he wanted to give me a medal when I spoke up in class that by "necessary demonstrations" Galileo meant mathematical proofs...

As for a career, well, I still don't know. I spent the last two summers doing Tech Theatre, summer stock style. I'm all mixed up, I'll freely admit it. *grin* This past summer I actually had a real, full-time job in Industry.. working as a student intern in Quality Assurance for 3M Health Care Cardiovascular Systems, Sarns and CDI products. Over the course of the summer I learned:

a) their whole line of products (Canulas to Heart Pumps)
b) how to operate the safety, arterial, and cardiovascular monitors on the 8000 system ( and the roller pumps, come to think of it)
c) how to operate their inventory computer system (AS400 with a lobotomy -oh, sorry.. custom software) plus PCs that could emulate the AS400 and Macs that could actually download info from it.
d) that I couldn't stand having a job in that sort of a situation as a lifetime career, though it was a nice enough summer job. Doing parts inspections and double-checking complaint processing forms doesn't get my motor running.
My plans for after graduation are less than concrete. I find myself qualified for a wide range of jobs, including html coding and design. Graduate School.. *shakes head* I don't know... I might go into something involving History of Science and Technology. I haven't taken the GREs yet but I will in April, and I'm examining graduate programs with an eye towards entering them after a year off from school. I'm also looking into internships or other opportunities at "discovery" museums, such as the Smithsonian and various museums of science.

So this was more than just my major.. hope you didn't mind.


After graduating in 1996, I did take some time off, went on a fabulous 3-month road trip with my sister, and went on to do Web Design and collect a Master's Degree in Systems Design Engineering. I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do, and I'm still interested in all kinds of different things.

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