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Bachelor's Degree With Individual Concentration

Spring 2008 Newsletter
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Spotlight on the Newest BDIC Students

Nearly 80 students have recently completed the BDIC Proposal Writing class, BDIC 396P.  We wanted to share some of their very interesting profiles with you.

Roberta Wermer, known affectionately as Berta, is a sophomore who plans to graduate in 2010. Berta spent this spring’s proposal writing class tweaking her concentration in “Sustainable Farming: Integrating Plant Sciences and Animal Sciences for Sustainable Small Farm Management.” Berta is every instructor’s dream student. She is pleasant, motivated, organized, and, like the wording of her concentration title, meticulous and detailed. As Berta’s peer advisor, I would love to take some of the credit for the model curriculum which was the result of her work in the class, but it simply would not be fair. Berta actually had created a viable, individualized, interdisciplinary curriculum, with alternates, before she ever set foot in the classroom. I know this because she brought it with her when she applied to the proposal writing class, more than one full month before the first class meeting even took place.

Courses from the departments of Forestry, Plant and Soil Sciences, Natural Resources and Fisheries, Animal Science, and Resource Economics, and Building Materials and Wood Technology, will be supplemented by self-designed independent study work with Simple Gifts Farm in North Amherst. Berta cites her childhood on a farm in downstate New York as the experience that initially piqued her interest in nature; because it was there that she was able to observe, on a daily basis, the ecological cycles that “became the foundation of my understanding of life.” Her interest in sustainability, which she defines as, “a pattern that can be repeated indefinitely,” blossomed anew after stress and a lack of “passion for the material” forced her to take a semester off from Lehigh University, where she was a freshman majoring in Bioengineering. Berta took a year off and worked with Heifer International, an organization with which she will again be interning, this time for credit toward her concentration. Initially intending to return the following fall, Berta, “absolutely fell in love with farming,” and came to UMass to further pursue her interest. Drawing from this diverse array of coursework and hands-on experience, Roberta will work toward her long-term goal of ownership and sustainable operation of her own farm as a small business.

By Kate Cessna

Courtney Nowick is concentrating on Strategic Marketing for Museums and Art Galleries. During her junior year in high school, Courtney took a trip to France. Her experiences there showed her how passionate she was about art and its importance in society. After her second trip to France during her freshman year at UMass, she knew that she had to pursue studies that would allow her to successfully work and promote in the art field. For her BDIC concentration she plans on taking classes from the Art History, French, Communications, Art and the Isenberg School of Management. After graduation she hopes to start a small firm in which independent galleries or museums would hire to do public relations campaigns. We all wish her the best of luck!

By Emma Lovewell

            Daniel Pogue is a sophomore who is currently in the process of writing his final proposal to enroll in the BDIC program, allowing him to concentrate in the area of Digital Media Design. With the BDIC major, Daniel is combining courses from the Art, Computer Science, and Communications departments, as well as completing a film certificate. As an underclassman Daniel has already achieved great heights in the field of animation beyond the walls of this university. Daniel is currently interning at the Anzovin animation studio is Florence, Mass. This semester-long internship has taught Daniel valuable animation skills such as rendering, frame checking, and modeling, while using the professional animation program called Maya.
 Starting out small, Daniel’s responsibilities included rendering and frame checking animated images. Now towards the end of the semester, he has increased responsibilities by being assigned modeling jobs for online games. Past games Daniel has worked on included the “Littlest Pet Shop,” on the Hasbro website. Current projects for Daniel include another kid/pre-teen online game called Cazmo. According to Daniel, numerous amounts of time, energy, and precision are spent making just one animated game. Daniel spent the month-long winter break working at the studio and checking two million frames, making sure all the props and characters worked correctly before mass distribution of the game hit the web.  Within the community of 10 Anzovin employees and two current interns, Daniel has valuable networking opportunities with leading animators in the field. Past projects from Anzovin employees include the movies Ice Age and Robots, along with the ever popular Halo video game. This internship will be incorporated into Daniel’s BDIC curriculum.
By Crsitina Sadler

            With a concentration of Neurobiology, Rose Weiss hopes to “understand the human nervous system from the varying perspectives of clinical neurobiology, modern psychology, and holistic medical traditions and to explore how their diverse interpretations of neurological and/or mental health and illness can inform issues of public health and personal wellness.”  Rose is a sophomore here at UMass, but is in no hurry to graduate since she is very passionate about studying the cellular level of the brain and the way it affects human behavior and decision making.  By taking classes from a variety of departments, including Biology, Psychology, Public Health and Anthropology, and also incorporating five college courses into her curriculum, Rose is intentionally drawing a connection between biological human functioning and psychological and social perspectives of the meaning of mental health and illness.
            Neuroscience is one of the fastest growing fields today and people continue to draw connections between neurological factors and lifestyle choices.  Rose states that “with the brain being the central controller of our bodies, I am interested in how human society interacts with and manipulates our natural physiology through factors like excessive sensory stimulation, the stress of modern lifestyles and mind altering drugs.” One of the potential applications of Rose’s studies is to develop a biology focused educational program for substance abuse prevention and treatment.  She believes that “such a program would help students and patients make conscious behavioral decisions
by empowering people with knowledge of the neurophysiology of drug addition and
what is actually happening in their bodies“.  This is a fascinating public health approach to substance abuse prevention and Rose’s knowledge, dedication and passion towards neurological studies will definitely bring her much success.

By Brita Orwoll

Danielle Dean, a sophomore in the proposal writing class, is pursuing her interest in psychology through BDIC by creating a concentration in Organizational Behavior and Statistics.  She has always had a love for psychology, especially studying how people think and relate to each other on an interpersonal level.  When coming to the University she came to realize that she wanted to pursue psychology in the business world in order to help people lead healthier work lives and help businesses run more efficiently.  After looking into the different academic possibilities to prepare her to work in the field of psychology she heard from a friend about BDIC's great opportunity to create her own unique major. After visiting the office and she quickly realized this major would be a perfect fit for her.  Danielle said, “I could create a major around my career goals of becoming an Industrial and Organizational Psychologist.”  This was exactly what she was looking for.  Danielle plans to take classes from the Psychology, Management, Statistics, and Education departments.  The flexibility of this major allows her to also continue to pursue a Psychology major as well as a Mathematics and Statistics minor.  Moreover, this creates an opportunity for Danielle to study abroad.  Next fall she will be traveling to Ireland, where she is doing an early start semester called Management and Marketing in the European Union.  This will enable Danielle to learn more about business in a global context, while taking psychology and management classes at Cork University. BDIC enables her to take focused classes and learn more about the field through working with her sponsor Professor Robert Marx, a Psychologist specializing in Organizational Behavior. When considering how BDIC will impact Danielle’s long term goals she says, “I am thankful for the opportunity to create my own major that will help me pursue my career goals in such a focused and direct way, and I think it will help me stand out when I apply to graduate school in Psychology.”

By Elizabeth Sedlak

Are you familiar with the Rohmert Method? Prior to meeting Max Macrides, neither was I. Max is a sophomore in the proposal writing class and has decided to create a concentration that will enable him to bring this developing vocal technique from its German homeland to those of us here in the US. The Rohmert Method, similar to the Alexander and Feldenkrais techniques, combines traditional vocal anatomy with studies in harmonies and overtones. Generally speaking, it teaches you how to listen to your body so that you can use it as an instrument to play or sing. Max will be taking courses in Music, Kinesiology, Psychology, Biology, and German. He plans to follow up his BDIC studies by attending the Lichtenberg Institute in Germany, ultimately returning to share what he has learned with aspiring musicians like himself.

By Gina Simonelli

TOMS Shoenanigans College Tour

By: Cristina Sadler

On Tuesday, March 25th, TOMS shoes came to UMass Amherst for the first time as part of their 2008 Shoenanigans college tour. Britt Gwinn, a senior BDIC student, majoring in Social Justice and Global Economy has been working with TOMS shoes this semester for her independent study. Britt discovered the company back in January and was inspired by their story. The founder of the company, Blake Micoskie, started TOMS shoe company a little less than two years ago after he spent time in Argentina on the Amazing Race TV show. During his time in Argentina he realized that people are living without basic necessities such as shoes. Blake was inspired after his experience to start a shoe company that gave away shoes to children in need. Blake returned to the states and started a company based out of Santa Monica, California. Every time you purchase a pair of TOMS footwear, you are also donating a pair to a child in need. “One for one” is their motto and that is just what they have done. Over the past two years the company has dropped close to 60,000 pairs of shoes in Argentina and South Africa alone.

The on-campus event drew over 150 students to the Student Union Ballroom on Tuesday. TOMS sales reps were there selling shoes via online purchasing. Other event features included free Honest Tea drinks, free Earth Foods dessert, and live music from SkullFunked and musicians from Nashville, TN. The next event for TOMS will be a barefoot walk on April 16th, which will raise money for the Friends of TOMS Foundation. The money raised from the walk will be donated towards putting shoes on children’s feet. The barefoot walk costs five dollars to register and will start at 1 p.m. and run for approximately 1 hour around campus. The event is hosted by the Outing Club and co-sponsored by various groups on campus such as Phi Delta Psi, Sigma Gamma Rho, and Phi Sigma Pi. To sign up contact Britt Gwinn at If walking barefoot does not sound like your cup of organic, Fair Trade Yerba Mate tea, then come to the Amherst Community Art Center on Sunday April 20th between 1-4 p.m. to “Style Your Sole.” By April 11th pre-order your white canvas TOMS that will be waiting for you at the art center to decorate with paint, and any mediums you feel inclined to use. Pre-order your shoes with Britt Gwinn at by April 11th to guarantee a spot at this event.  For more information about TOMS shoes check out their website at Remember, your purchase today guarantees a child shoes for tomorrow.

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