“I am Interdisciplinary Studies major with a focus in Applied Exercise & Health Studies,” I tell people when they inquire about my schooling. Usually I get a common response of, “Okay, so what does that entail?” Oh, a whole lot of wonderfulness.
I started my journey as an IDS major a tad late to the game, coming in as a second semester junior. Conflicted by the narrow and specific subject matter of my current major, Exercise & Sport Physiology, I wanted more. As my essay accounts, I wanted to not only possess the scientific understanding of exercise and the effects it has on the body, but also have the ability to promote such behavior in addition to other aspects of health to others. This desire led me to IDS where I was able to fashion a major that included the strongest components from both Exercise & Sport Physiology and Health Promotion. As part of the IDS curriculum, I was tasked with two capstone projects – a research article and an applied project.
For my research article, I chose to look at physical activity and its correlation to longevity. We are all relatively aware of the benefits we can receive by being physically active, but the idea that we can actually increase our lifespan due to such behavior change, was something I wanted to address. In pursuing this topic, I uncovered a plethora of insight ranging from the leading sports that promote longevity to advice from the longest living people and their relationship with physical activity. My initial approach and goal in writing this article, was to provide a research-based summary regarding the topics of physical activity/exercise in hopes to motivate individuals toward living a more active lifestyle. Confident this intention was met, the process also solidified my understanding of physical activity and further reinforced my own desire to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle.
Now I may not seem like the typical IDS student in that the major I created does not support a specific career or future field of study, but rather a broad range of specialities. Instead of entering the department with a clear vision as to what I wanted to pursue upon graduation, I came in with widespread interests for my curriculum. My applied project reflects this, as I chose to shadow 5 different professionals within the areas of health and human performance, in hopes to paint a clearer image of what I see for my future or perhaps what I don’t see. My project provides a write-up and reflection of my day with each individual, alluding to my take-aways from each. In shadowing a physical therapist, a strength & conditioning coach, a chiropractor and whole food nutritionist, a registered dietician, and an athletic trainer/physician extender, I had the opportunity to experience a day in each of their lives, ultimately providing me with that clearer image for my future. This project had an invaluable impact on my growth as both a student and individual, so much so that it has allowed me to be content with the unknown, but excited for the continued process of exploration.
Closing One Chapter To Open Another
Nearing my final semester as an undergraduate student, I can’t imagine closing this chapter of my education any other way. In immersing myself in Interdisciplinary Studies, I have been challenged with fashioning my own major and providing justification for its creation, I’ve been given the freedom to facilitate some of my own learning through extensive research and a self-directed, explorational applied project, and most importantly, I have rediscovered my love of learning. My IDS journey hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile. No longer am I intimidated by the future and the recurring question, “What’s your plan after graduation?” I found a comfort and excitement in knowing my options are expansive and there really is no rush in finding the answers to such questions. There is something beautiful in the uncertainty of my path, and I owe a great deal of that feeling to IDS.
Onto the next chapter…