Students explore interests at Major and Minor Fair


Anna Westbrook

Professor of Mathematics Rachel Weir listens to Emily Robles, ’26, discuss a potential minor in math, while Instructor of Mathematics Cheryl Leech talks Olivia Givvin, ’26, through the requirements of the same program.

A major in chemistry with a minor in Dance and Movement Studies, a major in history with a minor in Energy and Society, or a major in philosophy with a minor in German. The requirement for students to pursue a major and a minor in different fields of study is one of the most distinct aspects of Allegheny’s curriculum. While some students begin college with a clear idea of what they want to study and pursue professionally, it can be challenging for others to identify their diverse passions. In an effort to guide students along their academic path, First-Year Class Dean Niki Fjeldal hosted a Major and Minor Fair on Tuesday, March 14, and Wednesday, March 15, in the lobby of the Henderson Campus Center.
“I hope this provides students with the opportunity to actually talk to faculty,” Fjeldal said. “I think sometimes it’s a hurdle to email a person you don’t know and ask about a major and, kind of, more about the experience.”
The Major and Minor Fair took place from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. — the time of day FS 102 courses are scheduled to occur. Fjeldal hosted the event during that time of day with the hope that FS 102 professors would bring their students to the event and take advantage of the opportunity to help students navigate the process of figuring out what their academic interests are and connecting them with faculty and advisers that may be of use to them.
The lobby buzzed with chatter as students mingled with professors and representatives from a wide array of academic departments. Assistant Professor of English and Director of Education Studies Susan Slote’s active engagement with the students passing by her table paid off; she helped four students declare a minor in Education Studies on the spot. Slote also added a number of students to the department’s mailing list, which she said is essential for keeping students involved with the program. Given her experience talking with students on both days, Slote said having an event like the Major and Minor Fair seems to be beneficial for students.
“We have the opportunity to talk to students when they’re prospectives and we do a kind of spiel, but people aren’t absorbing it in the same way,” Slote said. “They’re thinking more about, ‘Oh, here’s this cool thing I could think about,’ when they’re prospectives. But here, they’ve been here for a semester and a half and they’re really thinking about the process of declaring.”
Caro Vazquez-Blanco, ’26, attended the event with her FS 102 class. She plans to major in Environmental Science and Sustainability with a minor in Latin American and Caribbean Studies and is still figuring out if she wants to double major or double minor in chemistry. In addition to having ongoing conversations with her academic adviser, Vazquez-Blanco thought attending the event was worth her time and proved helpful as she works to determine her final major-minor combination.
“I think it’s pretty useful because we’re freshmen and there’s not really pressure to declare, but it helps us have the resources to consider majors and minors without having to declare right now,” Vazquez-Blanco said.
For students who had already declared their major and minor, representatives from the Office of Career Education were present and ready to answer any questions students may have about next steps for exploring experiences outside the classroom.
While students do not need to declare a major and minor until their third semester at the college, Fjeldal said it is not uncommon for first-years to do so. Declaration Day, the annual event celebrating students who are declaring, will be hosted on March 24 in the Pelletier Library from noon to 2 p.m. Students who declare their major and minor will receive a free T-shirt, and the celebration will be accompanied by light refreshments, including salsa made with ingredients from the Carr Hall garden, according to Director of Sustainability Kelly Boulton, ’02.
Fjeldal acknowledged that the declaration process can feel overwhelming, but wants to assure students that there is support for them along the way.
“Take your time,” Fjeldal said. “There’s no rush for you to do it. But for folks that feel ready to do it, I would say go ahead and do it. And then just know that you can change it if you need to, so it’s not a one-and-done process. But feel free to take the time to explore and ask questions.”