The right type of science: Unexpected results come from switching majors

Laaron Backry (Courtesy Photo)

Laaron Backry (Courtesy Photo)
Laaron Backry (Courtesy Photo)
By Ashley Pereyra

Midland senior Laaron Backry was not always an award winner in the political science field. During her freshman year, Backry was a biology major – a biology major who didn’t like math.

“Ever since I was 8, I dreamed of being a doctor, a surgeon specifically,” Backry said. “And that was what I was going to do and what I was going for, but I got here and I was miserable in science. And then math kicked my butt.”

During a period of indecision, Backry took a class in constitutional development that was suggested by a friend.

It was her first political science class.

“I took the class and I loved it,” Backry said. “I mean I loved every bit of it. I loved the discussions that I had. I was told by several people, ‘Laaron, why don’t you be political science? Why don’t you go into this field?’”

However, Backry was still determined to become a doctor. This led her to transfer schools. She joined her brother at Oklahoma State University, a school she said focused more narrowly on the science courses for her major.

The change, however, did not fix Backry’s problem. She still wanted to be in the sciences.

“It took a counselor saying, ‘Laaron, do something you enjoy, do something you’re good at, and she pointed out this is it,” Backry said. “And I was just dumbfounded. Like wait, I could switch my major. It was never an option before and then I decided finally to come back and I was a political science major.”

Coming back to Baylor was a strange experience, Backry said. Most of her family embraced the change.

Backry had to start almost from scratch because of the difference in required courses for a political science major.

One class that she took fall 2012 ended up being her favorite.

The class, Politics and Government in Western Europe, was the assurance that she was in the right field, Backry said.

“I absolutely love everything that it entails, the systems and how people operate in the systems,” Backry said on her political science major. “It’s amazing how many different perspectives you can look at it from and things really start making sense even though the world of politics is a world that doesn’t seem to make rational sense.”

A research paper was a part of the requirements of the class. There were a myriad of topics for students to choose.

“I zoned in on human trafficking because I had been curious about the issue before but not entirely informed on it,” Backry said. “‘So’, I thought ‘well, I’ll explore this.’ Of course I had to present it at the end of the semester with a poster session. She said you should really enter this paper in this contest.”

This contest was the Claremont-University of California at Berkeley Undergraduate Research Conference on the European Union.

It is an undergraduate conference hosted at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif. At the conference, selected students present in panels on papers they submitted.

“I entirely did not expect to be accepted because I applied for two things at Baylor, Scholars Week and the Pulse,” Backry said. “And so I’m scratching my head like, ‘well I guess California won’t want it either.’ And they did. It was a shock.”

Baylor flew her to Claremont for the conference where there were people from all over the world.

She was one of four students on the human trafficking panel out of a grand total of 47 students. Backry said that the time spent at the conference was fascinating.

Dr. Phil Van Auken, a business professor at Baylor, is currently teaching Backry in a Doing Business Across Cultures class.

“Laaron is extremely interested in the world as a whole, cultures, politically and nationalistically,” Van Auken said. “She has a very good command of systems knowledge because she understands how political and economic systems interact.”

This semester she has continued to recieve awards.

In March, Backry won two of the four honorable mentions in the categories, best delegate and best policy memo, at the Model United Nations conference at Howard Payne University.

“I feel lost because before I had a plan for my life,” Backry said. “It was all structured and all ready to go. Right now, I just have an idea. I just know the direction. I feel like I’m walking with a blindfold and just being led—I’m trying to be led by God. I know you know where you want me. I don’t know where it is. I just know it’s in this direction. Take me there.”