Always Learning More
While a lot of up-and-coming college seniors at state and tech schools are in the midst of searching for jobs where they can apply the very specific skills they’ve learned over the last 3 years, here we liberal arts hippies are, not having a clue what to do, nor a very clear path to follow. Or so goes the reasoning of society. However, I beg to differ.
This summer I somehow managed to score an internship in a local water-testing lab, and boy, do I love it. Sure, I’m doing wet chemistry for the first time in six years. Sure, I’m an English major doing very quantitative, sciencey stuff. So what if I’ve spent the last three years writing about poignant life experiences and learning about the wittiness and importance of the self in Montaigne’s writings. So what if I’ve had six semesters theorizing about racial identity in literature or the morality of photographing and writing about violence. Thanks to the freedom Amherst College allows me, I’ve also spent the last three years with a second major in environmental studies, where I’ve learned about the human effects on the planet, the fragility of each component in a food web, and the devastating effects of acid rain. I’ve studied the ethics of protecting one species versus another and of preserving an ecological system over human development. I’ve examined how history has shaped our ideas of nature and the environment. There are so many other things I’ve learned and most likely forgotten, but what it boils down to is, I know basic environmental theory, how it works, and how an environmentalist must think. That is what mattered for this summer.
Thanks to the open structure of liberal arts that allowed me to double major (and because of my very trusting lab manager who hired me), I’ve had the opportunity to practice real environmental conservation (in this case, of the Lake Sunapee watershed), something that is one of my great passions, even if it wasn’t in my (originally planned) career path. Despite the fact that I’m also spending the summer researching for an English thesis and preparing for apply to grad school for creative writing, I get to go outside (or inside…the lab) and dabble in my other interests, get my hands a little wet (pun intended), and ultimately, realize that writing, though it is what I want to do, is not the only thing I’m capable of doing. There is a wide world out there, and because of the kind of education ‘Cac schools offer (one that lets us explore, try out, and gain a broader knowledge of the world), we can do almost anything. This summer has helped show me that.