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Bachelor's Degree With Individual Concentration

Spring 2007 Newsletter
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Why I Chose BDIC


by Marina Solovyov

I was five when my family immigrated from the Ukraine, and growing up I watched them struggle to support our family.  As a result, college has had two objectives for me: to do something which would give me financial security and to prove to myself that I am intelligent enough to do anything I set my mind to.

When I applied to UMass Amherst, I hoped to get into Isenberg School of Management (SOM).  It is no secret that people make money in the business world, and that it is a challenging concentration to pursue.  I was accepted, but was disappointed when I learned I couldn’t study international business there.  Since SOM has a reputable program, I resolved to stay in it and find other classes to give me a global perspective.

When I got to school I was lost.  My parents had no idea how to approach studying in the higher education systems of America, so I turned to my advisors in SOM.  I appreciated their counsel, but ended up relying too much on them, losing sight of my true interests.  I thought my advisors knew everything, and I listened to their every word.  While they had my best intentions at heart, their natural biases towards the finance and accounting concentrations pressured me to believe it was the only sure major to get me ahead in life. It took time to realize, but when I made the decision during my freshman year to study finance, it was a big mistake.

In SOM one does not begin their concentration until their junior year, but when I decide something, I dedicate myself to it; thus thoughts of finance began to overtake me.  During the winter of my freshman year I interned for a brokerage company in Boston and stayed involved in the finance and marketing clubs.  While I also took lead roles in other areas of campus (I was a senator for the SGA and involved with Residence Life), I slowly began to realize I could not continue to spread myself so thin. I eventually phased out several interests for the sake my SOM degree.

By spring semester of my sophomore year I was completely miserable; I felt like I was having a mental breakdown.  My life back home was falling apart and this only heightened my deepest truth: I didn’t know what I was doing with my time at UMASS.

 I dreaded taking classes in my major and at one point almost dropped out of SOM.  I went as far as speaking to my SOM advisor about adding BDIC as a second major but was told it wasn’t necessary for my purposes.  To pacify some of my needs, I upped my credit load to twenty-one, and took two upper level classes in theater and education. Besides this, I only enjoyed my job as a resident assistant.  I got to work with people of all backgrounds and cultures, and I felt like I was making a difference.  Among my staff, I was voted “the most likely to change her major.”  Yet, I didn’t want this to be true, I needed the security of making money, and as I was almost two years into school, leaving SOM felt too scary.

Luckily, for all of my junior year, I was given the wonderful opportunity to study abroad in Granada and Madrid, Spain.  I took this time to learn about myself and understand what I genuinely wanted out of life.  I swore to myself I would never again do something just because people told me it was the right thing to do, but only do it if it was right for me. I was so far away from home.  No family, no real friends, and the struggle of learning a new language made life quite challenging.  Nonetheless, always eager to push myself outside my own comfort zone, I was determined to be happy and successful.  For once, I learned to listen to my own heart, intelligence, and intuition.

Up until the last summer, I phased out business studies from my life almost completely. Although I thought it would feel great, I still felt off.  I wanted to make sure that studying language and working with people was not the only important two things to me and thus I interned for a multinational company in Spain. My internship renewed my interests in business and made me realize that there is so much more to the field than I had allowed myself to believe.  Like before my freshman year, I desired the opportunities that came with an international business career.  Yet this time, I knew how I could go about enjoying what I would learn: I would combine studying languages and cultures with business.

Last fall was my first semester back at UMass, and immediately I ran over to the BDIC department.  Although I had visited the office in past years, I had never come with the intention of applying to the program.  I used to be afraid to take a real interest in my dreams.  I thought that I wouldn’t be good enough to set myself apart in what I wanted to do; thus no financial achievements.  However, living in Spain taught me about life.  While I still want to be successful, money is no longer a priority for me.  Today I care more about being happy, and I realize that if I do something I am really interested in, with time and dedication, I can be great.

Thus, I spoke with BDIC advisors and told them of my plans to create a major involving culture and business.  I realized in my last months in Spain that I was not ready to graduate from school when I came back; moreover, I would declare a major in Marketing. Now that I finally understood my true interests, the study of business and different cultures, I needed more time to develop tools I would apply to my future career.  My new plan was to study for a fifth year in Japan because it would give me the ultimate opportunity to expand my way of thinking and given me true insight into a very foreign perspective.  Also, the experience would be hands-on, and I thrive in real life learning situations.

Speaking with BDIC advisors was a unique experience.  While past advisors were caring, no one could ever understand that I needed more space than what I was being given in a regular major to feel happy and excel.  The BDIC advisors are familiar with students who feel like there just isn’t anything out there for them and need to take their education into their control.  For once in all my years at UMass I felt like I was understood.

Currently I am enrolled in the proposal writing class.  I have titled my major Business, Language, and Cultural Studies of Spain and Japan.  While these two countries have no direct link, they are of equal value to my business purposes.  I love the Spanish and Latin American culture and language and have been strongly affected by them.  I speak Spanish well and one day can see myself moving back to live and work. Meanwhile, I am also a native Russian speaker.  Russia and Japan have a lot of professional affiliations and I like knowing that I am opening a door to combine working with my native language and a country that I admire a lot.

It took me almost all four years to get here, but I can finally say that this spring semester I am feeding my soul.  For once, I am truly on the right path to achieving my dreams.  This semester has only started, but for me my accomplishments are greater than ever.  I am finally a BDIC major,  been officially accepted to study abroad in Hirakata, Japan for Fall 2007-May 2008, and am interning with a travel writing company. GoNOMAD.com has given me the opportunity to develop my writing, research, and interviewing skills, while learning about other countries and cultures around the world. Academically, no semester has ever been better for me.

Everything is going well for me, but in a large part I am so successful because of the BDIC department.  Had this department not been in existence, I would not be able to officially count my experiences in Spain and Japan as part of my degree.  I have learned, and will learn more than I have in my whole life from my cultural experiences.  They pertain to my career needs in every way and it would be a shame not to give them recognition.  Also, as I will be a fifth year senior and will have completed my degree in Marketing.

Being a BDIC major is not just a chance to avoid taking certain classes but to get a degree in what you want.  It is an invaluable major geared towards passionate, independent, and purposeful students who want the most out of their education.  It can be completed as a single major but also used as a complementary major.  I am so grateful for the BDIC office.  My one and only regret is that I didn’t have the confidence in myself to start BDIC earlier.

 

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