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Undergraduate Testimonials

Concentration: Race, Class, Ethnicity

Graduation Year: 2014

Why did you major in American Studies?

I majored in American Studies because I was interested in studying culture and learning more about sociopolitical contexts that I interact with everyday. When I learned about American Studies I was really excited that it was so interdisciplinary and that it connected so many issues together. I was interested in work within family services and social work so I minored in Family Studies as well. The two programs compliment each other very well because I was learning about individual and family dynamics as well as larger social dynamics. I think that it is imperative for those employed in any sort of social service positions to understand how our culture is impacted by law, history, media and institutions because all of these things impact individuals in their daily lives. I am proud that I am an American Studies graduate because I will use these perspectives and analytical skills in any position I enter in the future.

How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

As a result of the American Studies program and other experiences I have had, I find that all the issues and problems in our society are directly related to our education systems. I am now a graduate student in the Language, Literacy and Sociocultural Studies department in the UNM College of Education and am able to relate my knowledge from American Studies directly into an education field. The major prepared me well for graduate school because there is a lot of reading and writing involved, so graduate school is not any more overwhelming than my undergrad was (so far). The American Studies program has provided me with writing and critical thinking skills, as well as the perspectives that I will need to understand and address the personal challenges that I may come across within any education or social service position I may enter.

Concentration: Environment, Science, and Technology

Graduation Year: 2007

After graduating from UNM, I spent three years working in Environmental Planning at Sandia National Labs. I then earned a Masters degree in Environmental Management from the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies. In the fall of 2012, I began a Ph.D. program in Urban Studies at Portland State University as a National Science Foundation ESUR-IGERT fellow.

Why did you major in American Studies?

The most interesting classes are in American Studies! American studies gave me the flexibility to draw on a variety of disciplines to explain our relationship with the environment. I was guided through basic qualitative research techniques and applied these to produce an honors thesis about a topic I was passionate about.

How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

While some thought I was crazy to study Chemistry and American Studies at the same time, this multidisciplinary education gave me a leg up in the job market. My experience doing independent qualitative research prepared me for graduate school and demonstrated to admissions committees that I was a capable researcher. My background in American Studies taught me to approach research from many angles and made me confident in drawing on a variety of resources from different disciplines. I carry these skills with me throughout my graduate studies.

Concentration: Comparative Cultural & Popular Culture Studies

Graduation Year: 2007

Upon graduation I accepted a position as a staff member here at The University of New Mexico. As a Program Specialist, I have worked in many areas of the University, most notably in developing our alternative and sustainable transportation programs. I have earned a Masters in Public Administration and will soon begin a Ph.D. program.

Why did you major in American Studies?

I was attracted to the inter-disciplinary nature of the studies. Not only did this give me more control and opportunity to craft my learning to my interests, but it provided a solid foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and writing experience that I could easily build upon my career and additional educational pursuits.

How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

The material in American Studies is extremely engaging, thought-provoking, and often challenging. It is the kind of challenge you enjoy so much you hardly notice how fervently you are advancing your critical thinking skills. I have this program to thank not only for the breadth of knowledge I received, but for strong problem solving abilities and very useful interpersonal communication skills.

Concentration: Comparative Cultural & Popular Culture Studies/Southwest Studies

Graduation Year: 2007

I was an academic advisor for three years while the health field continued to pull at me, so I am in my final year of graduate school with the Community Health Education program. In the meantime, I coordinate a school garden and I have written and received grants. I am also a founding member of a community health organization.

Why did you major in American Studies?

Well I have to admit, I majored in American Studies because I had interests in so many different academic fields and I thought that this would be a great fit. Little did I know that this major would actually provide me a toolbox with different lenses that allows me to have a very colorful viewpoint within the health field.

How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

Health in America, like so many other aspects of American life, is a trickle down process and many are marginalized as a result. I can recognize hidden obstacles through the health care system and design ways to make health fields more available and accessible while maintaining strong cultural value systems on both local and global levels. I appreciate this experience every day.

Concentration: Comparative Cultural & Popular Culture Studies

Graduation Year: 2013

Why did you major in American Studies?

After studying music for two years, I switched to American Studies and felt deeply satisfied with the switch. The courses offered in the program posed questions about my life and the world around me I did not know that I could ask. The instructors in the program encouraged critical thinking, engagement with methodologies and theories, and self-reflection. The most personally satisfying of these tools has been self-reflection, being able to use the tools of the classes to understand the context of my family and background within the broad and specific expressions of American culture. American Studies has transformed my intellectual landscape and I engage with the everyday (images, ideas, the lived environment) through multiple lenses renewing and reconfiguring my sense of purpose and identity in my life and the world around me. This program encouraged me to feel embedded within culture and a diversity of lives.

How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

Now that I am finished with my undergraduate school career, I am looking forward to continuing my education in a graduate program in the College of Education. with American Studies as my background, I am ready to study and begin research in American culture and education through the Language, Literacy, Sociocultural Studies program. Through this program I hope to enrich my understanding of diversity in education and the historical, legal, and cultural framework that shapes how education is conceived of and practiced in the United States. My experiences in doing research and writing have been shaped by the guidance of my American Studies instructors and courses that I look forward to bringing those skills into my continuing education both to elevate my work and to challenge the work of others.

Concentration: Race, Class, Ethnicity

Graduation Year: 2012

Why did you major in American Studies?

I majored in American Studies because of my passion for social justice and critical thinking. I was first introduced to American Studies when I took Intro to Race, Class & Ethnicity. The class challenged my assumptions, sharpened my mind, and made me think differently about my society. I knew I wanted to turn that same critical eye to more aspects of my life, power and history in the USA.

How has your American Studies degree helped you in your career?

Through my degree in American Studies, I bring a critical consciousness to the world of work. I knew I wanted to do something to make the world a better place - to put into practice what I had learned about justice and injustice. I looked for a career path that would allow me to serve vulnerable populations, challenge harmful cultural norms and pursue a more equal society. My degree in American Studies helped me to bring my values into my work life. As a mental health professional, my degree in American Studies helps me to see past stereotypes to the individual, while also being aware of the sociopolitical context in which we live.