A case for following dreams: Liberal arts degrees hold intrinsic value

By Rewon Shimray | Cartoonist

The summer before my junior year, I decided I no longer wanted to pursue a career in the field of my major. While this may sound like the onset of a nightmare to some, for me, it was a catalyst for my greatest dream.

A lot of emphasis is put on college degrees. If you are in college, you are inevitably asked what your major is, followed by what you plan to do with that.

I am majoring in journalism news-editorial with minors in studio art and religion…and I plan to go into vocational ministry with that.

A higher proportion of college graduates are working in fields unrelated to their undergraduate major across the board, according to a study published by the Institute for Education Sciences.

This statistic does not surprise me, because I have found that a college education prepares graduates for far more than the job for which it is geared.

I believe the skills and worldview ingrained in the journalism program prepare me to work in the mission field.

The purpose of journalism is to raise public awareness, and consequently fight against corruption. Transparency International analyzed 180 countries in its Corruption Perception Index 2017. The data indicated a direct correlation between minimal press protection and severe rates of corruption.

This research also recorded 368 journalists deaths on-the-job since 2012-a rate of at least one journalist per week.

The real-life impact and dedication to the mission are facets of journalism I hope to find in my future ministry work. I want my job to call me to take action when I see injustice, and speak truth into the situation. I want to believe in the objective and value of my work so deeply that I will continue to do it despite the risk that may come with the job.

Degrees in non-STEM fields are often viewed as dispensable. A liberal arts education is most notoriously associated with lower employment rates and salaries, but studies show that such programs prepare students for far more than ramen dinners and poor credit scores.

Another report released by the National Center for Educational Statistics reported that liberal arts majors meet their STEM-geared peers income-wise a decade after graduation. The study found that the soft skills gained through a holistic, application-centered education became more valuable in the workplace over time.

Additionally, Forbes wrote that “the most intelligent companies” today hire heavily based on personality in order to predict future success. The article explains: “You can train on an employee on your product or service, but you can’t train someone to have integrity, resiliency, self-confidence and work ethic.”

Journalism has taught me how to produce creative content on a deadline, learn about a new subject quickly and communicate to a broad audience effectively. I have been trained to learn by constantly asking questions and listening more than speaking. Because of these invaluable lessons, I am growing into a better student, friend and future minister each semester.

Each field teaches skills applicable in any workplace. Education does not have to be solely about the jobs to which it leads; it can also be about the type of people it rears.

Study something you believe will help you make a difference, and your world will begin to change.

Rewon is a junior journalism major from Austin.