I cannot make up my mind, which, to be honest, is why I am a triple major with a minor. Sounds crazy, I know, but at St. Lawrence, it makes sense somehow. Here’s why.
In my search for colleges, I confidently decided that I was undecided on what my future would look like. I knew I needed time to explore various subjects to discover my passion, so I only applied to small liberal arts colleges. Once I fell in love with St. Lawrence, deciding to attend was one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.
For someone who is a self-declared indecision-master, I must have everything ‘perfectly’ planned out. Scouring stlawu.edu for course offerings and major requirements, I designed each semester hoping to achieve a double major in English and mathematics-economics combined, along with a minor in French. Along the way, computer science made an appearance. Economics walked out the door in a huff, peaked its head back in again, and then ultimately jumped off a cliff. Statistics stuck around and eventually found a home in my schedule. I threw away a lot of diagrams and tables detailing elaborate academic combinations. My plans for my majors shifted like the colors of the autumn leaves in the North Country—a beautiful, chaotic gradient of warm, passionate hues that mystify my Californian eyes to this day.
Alas, having witnessed English, French, and math battle and defeat my other interests in order to become my chosen undergraduate pursuits, indecision still plagued and propelled me. One frigid Friday morning during my sophomore fall, I woke up on the makeshift couch in my friend’s dorm room wracking my brain for a project idea for the Sophomore Digital Scholarship Fellow program due later that day. Decision paralysis had struck again. I knew I wanted to work with Associate Professor of Mathematics Daniel Look, whose research in the field of textual analysis uses a mathematical technique. It was the perfect combination of mathematics and English.
I had a framework but could not make up my mind on a topic and my own experience with stress and mental health issues was weighing on me daily. When I opened my computer to a Zoom room of expectant and curious faces waiting for my pitch, I declared my research question: How has the portrayal of mental health in literature changed over time?
The research I have done has been met with support, praise, and excitement by my faculty mentors. I'm proud that it has been described as unprecedented territory exploring the literary portrayal of mental health through a mathematical lens. Indecision yielded an innovative approach to a fresh topic, and other opportunities followed. I was awarded a Tanner Fellowship, the Saints Start Challenge Grant, and the Racial Justice and Equity Project Grant to continue my mathematical work (using data science techniques—hello again, statistics minor!), investigating how the portrayal of mental health in literature mathematically differs when looking at different positionalities.
Today, I'm studying abroad in Rennes, France. With the help of the CIIS Travel Research Grant, I'm able to conduct research and interviews related to mental health in French literature and society. This research will create the foundation for my Senior Honors project: Comment la santé mentale est perçue en France et dépeinte dans la littérature française?
A single major could not handle me, not even two. With three majors and a minor, I have had the chance to explore opposite ends of the scholarly spectrum and combine these seemingly unrelated passions into a cohesive braid of academic endeavors. When I see the look of awe and concern on people’s faces, I always reassure them with the joke that I am a triple major with a minor because I cannot make up my mind. In reality, St. Lawrence allowed me the space to refine indecision into a foundation for interdisciplinary scholarship. My majors, initially too distinct to find common ground, are now a beautifully idiosyncratic tapestry.