Self-designed major: Modern languages
RELEASED: April 6, 2006
DANVILLE, KYTalia Harris, a sophomore from Billings, Mt., didn't think any of the many majors offered at Centre College fit perfectly with her academic interests—so, with the help of faculty advisors, she designed her own "dream major" in modern languages.
"When I got to Centre, my mind was made up; I knew that the College allowed its students to create their own majors, and I knew what I wanted to create," says Harris. "As with any foreign language program, my study focuses on communication—oral and written—and on understanding the people who speak the language."
Combining elements of French, German, Japanese, history, religion and anthropology, Harris's academic program will meet the College's liberal arts objectives, as well as her own. As part of her self-designed major, Harris is required to complete upper-level classes in each of several disciplines and study abroad for a semester.
"By living in Strasbourg, I'm definitely learning at an accelerated pace," says Harris who is currently studying in France with the Centre-in-Strasbourg program. "I think the most important thing I've discovered by living here is just how important it is to be immersed in the language. You can study all you want out of books, but the best (and fastest) way to learn is to really be in the country and completely surrounded by the language. Grades and the desire to learn may be good motivation for learning a language in the classroom, but when your day-to-day life depends on knowing the language, you'll learn much faster."
Although Centre offers numerous traditional majors, self-designed majors allow students the opportunity to customize their education to reflect their individual interests and abilities. A self-designed major includes faculty-approved, self-designed courses and independent study.
Recent majors created by Centre students include design communications, medieval studies, public policy, religion and the performing arts, religion and education, Japanese studies, education and the culture of learning, and physics and metaphysics.
"All of this fits the goals of a liberal arts education," says Harris. "In my modern languages major I'm covering a broad range of studies: history, religion, literature, anthropology and languages."
Harris is a member of the Centre Players, a student worker in the scene shop of the College's Norton Center for the Arts, a member of Centre singers, a student representative for the French department, a member of the German club, a member of Colonel Corps (student volunteers who assist the admission office) and was president of La Societe Francaise. She is also working on a minor in dramatic arts.
As part of her self-designed major, next summer Harris plans to return to Europe to complete an internship. After graduation she hopes to take part in the JET program, a program set up with the Japanese government that allows native English speakers to teach in Japanese schools. She also plans to look into similar programs in France and Germany.For more on Centre's study abroad programs see the Study Abroad pages and the Student Travel Journals pages.
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Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
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