Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them

I'm passionate about Economics The Courses You Dismiss Are the Ones I Explore

My name is Leo Cavedagne and I am ma- joring in Economics. My time at college has allowed me take courses in various subjects, allowing me to appreciate and develop a passion for many topics that I am studying. Outside the classroom, I work at the Library and as a research as- sistant in the Economics Department.

by Leo Cavedagne

up for a Women in Africa course. When attending a liberal arts college like Union, I wanted to make sure I signed up for classes I would never have imagined taking before. Going into the class, I never expected to gain so much from the readings. One story we read, Unbowed by Wangari Maathai, was about an environmentalist and political advocate who faced death threats and other struggles in order to protect Kenya's forests and wildlife from government deforestation. She was successful by communicating to her audience, persuading people to support her, and writing letters for help to international organizations. Her persistence and effective outreach led her to become the first African women to win the Nobel Peace Prize. This highlights the point that it is so important to be able to communicate to various groups of people and get your message across clearly. Maathai did not speak to other environmentalists in technical vocabulary about the devastating effects of deforestation, but instead she spoke to the entire country. The arts and humanities are pivotal in helping build these skills that allows someone to make change by connecting with diverse communities. What if I told you studying African feminism and women in Africa has inspired me to advocate for the rights of others, and that this history class has inspired me even more to pursue my dream of law school and make an impact on others? What if I told you the skills I learned from writing a prose in my poetry class allowed me to write an excellent abstract on my first science lab report and also apply to an internship? What if I told you the reasoning skills I learned in my First-Year Preceptorial helped me

write a peace proposal for a fellowship in which I was awarded second place? Would you believe me? None of my dreams, my goals, and my accomplishments thus far would have been made possible without my exposure to the arts and humanities. The classes I have taken in the arts and humanities have pushed me to think, to ask questions, and to truly immerse myself into the subject. I am interacting with people I would have never talked to before. The arts and humanities have proven to me that it never hurts to be educated in a broad array of subjects rather than one field. I write this to you because I want you to understand that I am not wasting my time. I am not trying to find an easy way out, and I am certainly not hindering my potential. Nor am I trying to be a rebellious child, or be burdened by years of loan repayment. I can assure you the years of hard work, strength, and perseverance that I put into highschool to allowme to attend Union will not have been wasted. The skills I am acquiring in my arts and humanities classes are allowing me to become a strong and capable candidate in any endeavor I decide to take on. I know that when I am ready to pursue an opportunity that appears enticing, I will be more prepared than ever to thrive in that environment.

began reading poems that brought me into the lives of authors and allowed me to understand and be aware of their perspective. The more poems I read, the more I was able to question the author's purpose, think deeply into the meaning of the poem, and understand the message or story it conveys. I believe this is what the arts and humanities are about. The arts and humanities push us to really understand someone’s perspective, allowing humans to relate to one another and form connections. The arts and humanities provide the basis for sympathy and consolation. During my second term, I had taken another economics class, my First-Year Preceptorial, and a history course called “Women in Africa”. In my preceptorial, I was assigned reading assignments that pushed me to think critically about the text and strive to uncover their complexity. By dedicating many hours a day to this, I was introduced to a world of endless interpretations and possibilities. Sharing my thoughts to the class, I had begun defending my thoughts using evidence as to why I believed my analysis was correct. Soon enough, when it came to writing on my own, I had learned how to think critically about my writing and defend my own thoughts on paper. I also learned how to actively listen to other people’s arguments, which caused me to question the validity of my own thoughts. I had left this class knowing that the arts and humanities have taught me to think critically, defend my thoughts, and to question myself and others. I know you suggested that taking another calculus class couldn't hurt, and despite your advice, I instead signed


I knew that as soon as I started to narrow down my college options, you became increasingly hopeful I would enroll into a respected and reputable engineering program. While I did not choose an engineering program, I am confident that this decision is one I will not regret. I understand that having me major in an area with high employment security and high salary potential is very comforting for a parent who is at the early stages of preparing to see their children go off into the real world. I know that as a dentist, you like to believe that STEM has endless opportunities, but so do the arts and humanities. I sincerely thank you for displaying such concern for me, but I must let you know, my curiosity to explore a wide variety of classes in the arts and humanities should not be of any alarm into the decisions I am making. As you will see, in just my first two terms, the classes I have taken are shaping me to become a more well rounded individual both inside and outside the classroom. During my first term, I had signed up for Calculus, Intro to Economics, and Intro to Poetry. Believe it or not, the class that you had questioned the most, Intro to Poetry, turned out to be one of the classes that have been most useful for me so far. I

With love, Leo

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