A degree with passion

Samantha Durham, Opinion Editor

Editor’s Note: Samantha Durham is a senior at UNCW studying sociology. She is the Opinion Editor for The Seahawk and enjoys concentrating her work on social issues. All opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Samantha may be found on Twitter @Durham_Sam. All suggestions and inquiries may be sent via email to sld9240@uncw.edu.

Sociology is near and dear to my heart for a couple of reasons. Many people have told me that landing on a major that supposedly is what you will specialize in for the rest of your life is no easy task. For me, it was simple.  

When I came to UNCW I was not really sure what I wanted to do. All I knew was that I wanted to be creative and have an impact later on in my life. I did not want to end up with a degree in something I would never use again. I wanted my major to do what it was intended for; prepare me for a career in that field.  

With that in mind I set out to be a business major with a concentration in marketing strategy. I knew it was going to be difficult, as I had heard rumors about what the classes were like. I have never credited myself with being a star math student either, so needless to say I was excited but also intimidated.  

I struggled through calculus, as many people do. I am convinced that I passed with a decent grade simply out of pity from my professor who saw me every time he had office hours. However, I made it through all the several hours of homework and the frustration that accompanied it.  

I made it through macro and micro along with one accounting class. I also passed business statistics but I will admit I struggled.  

During those semesters though I was also taking elective and university required courses. I was enrolled in an Asian religions class that I looked forward to every Tuesday and Thursday. Along the way I took a lot of classes about people, ideas and problems. It took classes that made me think outside of the box and those were what I enjoyed most.  

I took introduction to sociology online as a university required course. I loved it as it covered a wide range of issues and subjects that I thought were important. It made me think about the world in a different way.  

I never enjoyed my business classes like that. I felt very uninspired even though business seemed like the best route to the best job.  

The next semester rolled around and I enrolled myself in another sociology course that concentrated on aging. I enjoyed every moment of it even though it was at 8 in the morning.  

I continued struggling through my business courses and besting my sociology class. It wasn’t that the class easy, I just enjoyed it so much that it didn’t seem like work. 

The moment I realized I needed to make a change was during my second sociology class. We were discussing elder abuse and the struggles to combat it. I remember thinking to myself that someone had to do something. Why wasn’t more being done to protect the elderly population? 

Then it dawned on me that I could be the person to make that difference. If I cared so much about it why was I dedicating my time to things I did not care about? I should not look to others to solve problems but rather myself.  

I decided that afternoon that it was time to make a change. I was terrified because I had not a clue what a career was going to look like. All I knew was that it lit a fire in me. It inspired me to write about hard to swallow topics, to question the way things were and to ask myself what I could be doing to make a better world. That was enough for me.  

The biggest obstacle I have since faced is people asking me every college student’s favorite question: “What are going to do with that degree?” It’s a fair question, I suppose. Everyone that I have talked to who does not major in sociology or a similar field seems to think it’s a useless degree, I clearly disagree.  

I plan to help others and as some have made known to me, helping others does not make money. The thing is that I do not care about the money, I care about the fulfillment. I want to wake up every day looking forward to my day at work. I want to feel like what I am doing is important and makes the world a better place. I want to have a purpose.  

Sociology has been that purpose for me. I want my purpose to be to benefit and help society with some of the issues it faces. I am not sure what exactly that will be yet but that small part is what I know to be true. I want to go to bed at night knowing that something I did made someone else’s day a little better.  

It’s now February of my last semester as an undergraduate student. I am hoping to go to graduate school and learn more about the subject I love. I can honestly say I have never regretted making the change even when I stressed about what would come in the future.  

All I can say is to do what you love, regardless of what seems to be the practical choice. If that is art, history or anything else do not give up on it because you are afraid what will happen afterward. If it makes you happy and keeps you inspired, it is not a waste of time or money. Nothing that makes you happy is ever a waste. The world needs all kinds of people, so embrace what you are passionate about and never look back.