I am a junior. I am a communications major with a concentration in health. I have two minors: biology and human science. Being that I only have a little over a year until graduation, I am fully aware that this is an odd combination, and that it doesn’t give me a much of a plan after May 2012. I am totally in the dark about what I want to be when I grow up, and honestly I like it that way. I’m not focused on what will happen in a year, but I focus on what I learn daily. I am interested, I am involved, and I am totally confident that I will take away so much from JMU.
As I drove back from a weekend at home Monday morning, I found myself frustrated with the conversations that I had with family and friends regarding my education. The questions were the same from everyone. “How are your classes going?” “What classes are you taking?” “Well, what do you want to do with that?” I answered consistently, and the reactions I received were all the same. Everyone nodded with satisfaction as I explained my courses such as cell and molecular biology and persuasion. These courses seemed to impress. Maybe it is because cell and molecular biology is something the average person doesn’t know much about, and persuasion just sounds like a strong trait everyone should work on. Whatever the reason, it never failed that I received positive feedback, even when I explained that I had no idea what I was doing after I graduated. What troubled me though, were the puzzled looks I received when I discussed my elective on genocide.
“Genocide?, Where does that fit in?” I repeatedly explained the topics we discuss in class and the trip we would be taking in March. Kind expressions were to follow as if to say “good for you”, or “that’s a nice cause,” but those impressed expressions never appeared. Their reactions seem to discredit this one class simply because it did not fit into the scheme of enhancing my professional future.
The truth is this class doesn’t fit in. I’m not taking it to get into graduate school, or because it will look good to a future employer. It’s not a prerequisite, nor is it required for me to walk across the stage next May. I don’t need it to be a doctor, a PR professional, or even an upstanding citizen in whatever community I find myself in later on down the road. In fact, maybe this class isn’t for personal gains at all. Maybe this it is about something more. This class isn’t about my story. It’s about others who have struggled more, worked to overcome much larger hardships, and have a story that deserves to be heard, but isn’t because others aren’t a priority in our culture.
As one of the Lost boys described in God Grew Tired of Us, America is unbelievably individualistic. We don’t make time for strangers. We like the idea of good deeds, but not at the cost of our own priorities. I think this is an explanation for the reactions I received this weekend. The way many see it, college is what you do to gain the edge you need to land that dream job. You pay a lot of money for classes so you better make sure they pay off in the end. It’s about getting ahead. I understand that I have reaped endless privileges because of this attitude. America is a rich country because of the people in it who are success obsessed. Unfortunately, this attitude causes us to miss out on some important points. There is a bigger world out there than just the microscopic one that revolves around me. I am not the only person who matters, and caring about others is impressive. So maybe I don’t have a clue about what I’m doing after college. Maybe I’m spending my time on something a little more important.