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Davis, California

Friday, April 19, 2024

UC Davis students share how college has changed their major, post-graduate plans

 Students develop unexpected passions and career plans since arriving at Davis

By JALAN TEHRANIFAR — features@theaggie.org

When applying to colleges, many students don’t yet know what they want to do after graduation, so choosing a major and courses to prepare for their unknown post-grad plans can be very difficult. There are many different majors to choose from and many different career paths that those majors can lead to. A degree in a specific field can open up many career options, and many career paths can be accomplished through different majors. UC Davis students discussed how they are choosing their areas of study and what they hope to use — or not use — them for in the future.

Daniela Ocampo, a first-year biological sciences major, said she has a passion for science but doesn’t have a set career path yet. 

“I’m still contemplating whether I want to go through a pre-med track or a pre-vet track,” Ocampo said. “I came here with the intent of eventually applying to medical school, but in my heart I love animals and would love to work to save their lives. I was considering changing my major to animal science and eventually apply to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, but I decided not to, for now, in case I change my mind about what I want to do with my future.”

While Ocampo is still deciding which career she wants to pursue after college, she is on a major track that could take her down either path. 

“My current major is very versatile,” Ocampo said. “I can apply to both vet school and med school with a degree in biology, but, with an animal science [degree], it wouldn’t make sense applying to medical school.” 

Other students know exactly what they want to do at the very start of their college experience. One such student is Ruby Nahem, a first-year environmental policy analysis and planning (EPAP) major.

“I’m planning on going into environmental law after I graduate,” Nahem said. “The planet is dying, and I want to help fix it. I want to prevent major corporations from killing the earth.”

Nahem said that she has always had a passion for protecting the Earth and ensuring that future generations are able to enjoy and experience it as she does, and she believes she can help accomplish this as an environmental lawyer. 

Unlike Ocampo and Nahem, some students enter college without any idea what they want to study. Natasha Replogle is a first-year student who has yet to declare a major. She said she potentially wants to pursue psychology, but she didn’t come into school with career plans and wants to see what she’s passionate about as she goes.

Many college students’ goals and plans change after attending college for a few quarters. Huyen Lee, a first-year Asain American studies major, believed that she wanted to study Asian American studies in high school but isn’t pleased with her current major. 

“I [might] want to change my major to something STEM-related,” Lee said. “What I want to do in my future is work on becoming a teacher for middle school.”

College is about figuring out what interests you and what doesn’t. Students take lower-division classes in part to decide what they enjoy learning about and what they don’t.

Emily Garcia, a first-year neurobiology, physiology, and behavior (NPB) major, said she enjoys science but isn’t passionate about the focus of her current major. 

College can sometimes be challenging and overwhelming, leading to many feelings of wanting to give up or to choose a different path. Jannet Vasquez, a first-year animal science major, is struggling with choosing a career because of the pressures of her major. She said that, though she originally planned to complete a pre-vet school track and eventually apply to the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, the time and intensity of her major was too much. Even though she no longer plans to be a veterinarian, she said she’s exploring other courses to see what she does want to pursue.

Amina Alkadie, a first-year NPB major, loves being a STEM student and plans on becoming an oncologist nurse, but she said the demanding major doesn’t allow her to pursue other interests in non-scientific subjects.

Lots of students show interest in multiple areas of study, and some declare a second major. Zoupal Lor, a fifth-year psychology and theater and dance double major, is pursuing two majors that are not closely related but that she enjoys equally.

“After I graduate, I plan to go to graduate school for psychology — maybe clinical psychology or art therapy,” Lor said. “I also want to do some freelance art projects, maybe dance, photography or filming and stuff. Those are my goals.”

Because she chose to major in both areas, Lor has allowed herself career paths that relate to either major.

Some students, such as Joey Wu, a fourth-year cinema and digital media major, pursue and earn a degree and then decide not to use it for their future profession.

“My plan after graduation is to go home and finish my military service, since I am a Taiwanese citizen, and hopefully find a job here and acquire a visa,” Wu said. “If not, I’m happy just to explore the world for a couple years.”

Although Wu’s postgraduate plans are unrelated to cinema and digital media, he is happy to learn about the subject and to earn a degree as preparation for a career in the entertainment industry if he later decides to go down that path. 

“I am learning how to apply the filming skills to personal projects and professional settings,” Wu said.

Along the way, it’s easy to have doubts about the major one has chosen and the line of work they see themselves in, but, hopefully, with careful thought and consideration, students will find what they are looking for in a profession.

“It’s tough at times, and I find myself contemplating whether I should change my major to something less rigorous, but I know deep down that I won’t because I love being a part of the STEM department and being academically challenged in the science field,” Ocampo said.

Written by: Jalan Tehranifar — features@theaggie.org


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