Obscure majors offer diverse prospects

Majors like accounting and education usually lead students to clear career opportunities. But other options may not prepare students for a particular career path, and instead help pave their way to less specific professions.

Sophomore Mishael Cetoute decided to major in Africana studies and political science to further learn about his interests in African history.

“The term ‘Africana studies’ might seem like only for people who are African or African-American, but what you learn is that African history is part of American history and world history, and as informed citizens, it is important to know,” he said. “This major isn’t exclusively for African-Americans in the same way taking a Spanish class is not just for Hispanics.”

In previous semesters, Cetoute worked at the Kulula Project, which pairs children of under-represented minorities with mentors who help them with academic skills and instill in them a strong sense of pride in their culture. This led Cetoute to devote his attention to the role of minorities and their relationship to politics.

After graduating, Cetoute hopes to gain teaching experience either through Teach for America or another locally run teaching fellowship. Then he plans to go on to law school and get involved in public policy related to representing minorities and other overlooked groups.

Some majors allow students to test uncharted fields, as was the case with senior Luz Diaz, who is majoring in music engineering and minoring in computer engineering. She chose UM specifically for its music program and juggled engineering classes and being a musician.

Over the summer, she worked at NBC Universal at operation and technical services in the sound department. She was chosen for her computer programming skills and assisted the department with its daily operations.

“Since I know about computers and the things that can be done with them, my job was to come up with software solutions to common problems that people face,” Diaz said. “Because it is the 21st century, and they need to improve the technology, it’s always good to have new eyes come in with a different point of view.”

Diaz ultimately hopes to work in a Foley-studio, where the sounds of a movie are reproduced for clarity and quality in postproduction.

In contrast to majors that focus on technology, there are still those that emphasize the past and recording those events. Joe Stevenson, a senior majoring in anthropology and marine affairs, had the chance to work as a field archeologist at Mission San Joseph de Escambe in Pensacola, Fla.

Stevenson helped excavate what was once a Spanish fort inhabited by Apalachee Indians and Spanish friars and soldiers. The excavation involved detailed mapping, and he uncovered many metals, belts, buckles and ceramics.

“In a dig, you have to detail everything because you’re destroying it as you go,” he said. “It can’t be redone. You can’t excavate again. Once it’s gone, it’s gone.”

Stevenson also spent time working at a University of Miami-owned site called Little Salt Spring, one of Florida’s only known prehistoric sites. He studied prehistoric submerged terrestrial archaeology.

Stevenson wants to continue field archeology, find an area of concentration, graduate, and eventually teach. His ideal would be to combine his two majors and work at underwater shipwrecks.

“Studying human culture and what makes us ‘us’ helps us adapt to our changing environment and helps us interact with our world and each other,” he said.

The intrigue of a different culture is what led sophomore Jennifer North to pursue a major in both Latin American studies and Spanish. She is in the Fellows in Latin American Studies program, which allows students to complete their bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years.

As part of the program, students get to study abroad and take trips to countries in Latin America. North spent her summer working in Puerto Rico at the Abraham Project, a home for children who are not yet up for adoption, but had to be removed from their families for their safety. There, North helped teach the students, led vocational classes and trained short-term volunteers.

Next summer, she hopes to work in a rural community in Bolivia setting up libraries and promoting literacy.

“I like to say I have a plan B and a plan C, but not a plan A yet,” North said. “I’ve considered getting a Ph.D. and being a professor. I’m open to new experiences and seeing where it leads.”

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Ashley Martinez
Ashley Martinez is a senior majoring in journalism and psychology, which have sharpened her people-watching skills. She has worked as a staff writer, copy editor, assistant editor and is now the Edge arts and entertainment editor at The Miami Hurricane. She serves as the president of UM's chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. Her work has been featured in The Hurricane, Distraction Magazine, The Communique, Gables Home Page and The Miami Herald. When she's not working on a story, she loves going to the theatre and singing show tunes.