Majors in education, ministry, business and biology make up over half of the student body on campus. According to Northwestern’s institutional research, 633 out of 1,169 full-time students in the 2012 fall semester would have placed their major within those categories.
However, there are those on campus who are taking the road less traveled compared to many of their peers. Some students mix and match majors and minors with ones that often wouldn’t be assoicated with one another.
Senior Megan Rustad is the only senior vocal music education major on campus. After switching to the widely popular elementary education major in her second semester of freshman year, Rustad realized her passion was still with music.
“I had kept my music minor, but then during fall break of last year, I decided to go back to music education,” Rustad said. “I realized I wasn’t enjoying what I was learning about and decided after some time away from it that it had so much value in my life.”
Currently, Rustad is enrolled in a vocal music education class in which she is the lone student.
“With just the teacher and I, you can’t get away with just skimming the chapter but have to be able to discuss things,” Rustad said. “It’s a lot more conversation-based, and you definitely have to know your material.”
Rustad plans on student teaching K-12 vocal music next fall.
Junior José Martinez has also taken a nontraditional approach to his education at NW. A double-major in translation and interpretation and computer information systems who is also minoring in art, Martinez has tackled school with his talents and passions as a priority.
“I’ve always known Spanish, and I often helped my mom with interpreting growing up,” Martinez said. “I also like computers and programming and have always been that guy that people come to when they need help with technology and computers. Art is something I’ve always loved, and when I got to college I kept doing it.”
Although Martinez has an odd combination of studies, he said he is not concerned about finding a job after graduation.
“I’m really just trusting God that he will give me something where I can combine them, but I’m probably focusing on computer science as my first job priority,” Martinez said. “I’m hoping the second two will boost my value of work.”
Although being a youth ministry major wouldn’t appear to be very unusual at NW, freshman Jordan Samuelson also has a second major in sociology with a career concentration in criminal justice.
“Whenever I tell people that my second major is sociology, they scratch their heads because the two typically don’t go in hand in hand,” Samuelson said. “However, I feel that sociology helps me to better understand people.”
Samuelson said he aspires to be a camp director in a Christian setting but also is interested in working with at-risk youth and juvenile delinquents, which ties in with the criminal justice concentration.
Samuelson also said he believes there are certain advantages in having a your ministry degree.
“Although youth ministry isn’t uncommon at NWC, I realize that even most Christian colleges don’t offer this degree,” Samuelson said. “Lots of people have religion degrees, but very few have specific youth ministry degrees.”
For students such as Rustad, Martinez and Samuelson, overcoming the challenge of taking unusual paths in their education can be a rewarding experience.
“It’s not for everyone,”
Samuelson said. “However, it’s more about just doing what you love and are passionate about, and if that’s choosing to go towards a nontraditional path, I’d say go for it,” Samuelson said.
“Even though job outlooks in the computer and translation fields are very good, I feel that I still would have pursued my passions,” Martinez said.