Endicott offers 54 existing majors, but for some highly motivated students, there’s another academic option for Gulls whose interests and career goals transcend just one major.
How about creating your own major?
Professor of English Sam Alexander is on a mission to let prospective and current Gulls know that it’s possible to create an Individually Designed Major at Endicott.
“We want to encourage more students to take advantage of this program. This allows undergraduates to choose a unique focus that they wouldn’t otherwise be able to pursue,” said Alexander, who was recently named the dedicated academic faculty advisor for new students in the program.
The individually designed major replaces the distribution requirements of the standard Interdisciplinary Studies major with eight courses that span interdisciplinary studies and schools. What’s more, students can also incorporate credits from classes taken at Endicott’s sister schools in the Northeast Consortium of Colleges and Universities. Requirements also include a senior research seminar focused on solving a problem in their field of study through a capstone project or thesis.
News at the Nest recently interviewed two current students and one alumni member about how their decision to declare an individually designed major impacted their college experience and career goals.
Bella Dowd ’25 wants to make fashion more sustainable
Bella Dowd ’25 is passionate about making the fashion industry more sustainable by leaning into crafting unique vintage looks.
When she’s not in class at Endicott, Dowd works at Worthy Girl, Beverly’s own trendy consignment boutique, where she loves being asked to style customers. “That’s where I started to imagine myself owning a vintage boutique of my own one day,” she said.
Internships at high-end consignment shops, Cinderella’s Attic in Guilford, Conn., and The White Dress by the Shore, a bridal design salon in Clinton, Conn., made it obvious that a career in fashion retail and marketing is Dowd’s perfect fit.
Although she came to Endicott already knowing that a career in the fashion industry was her post-graduation goal, she initially signed up for an Interdisciplinary Studies degree and began ticking off general education requirements, but her heart wasn’t in it.
It didn’t occur to Dowd that it might be possible to stitch together classes to create a custom-made fashion and business marketing major. That is until Alexander suggested that she consider it.
That’s when everything clicked into place. “We sat and picked out potential classes and we talked about the benefits of me studying abroad, she said. “I even learned that I could pursue a fashion-related internship in Boston.”
Next, Dowd submitted a one-page proposal to the College administration, and her major was easily accepted. Her class schedule spans social media marketing, microeconomics, and studio art classes—the perfect combination of requirements needed for a future fashion entrepreneur.
Last spring, in a retail management course at the Curtis L. Gerrish School of Business, Dowd got to design a theoretical Spring 2024 athleisure collection for Lululemon. And this fall, she’s living out her biggest sartorial dream in the curriculum—a semester in Florence, Italy, studying at Florence University of the Arts’ program in fashion design, merchandising, and media.
Speaking from Italy over Zoom, Dowd said, “I’ve only been here a few weeks, but my brain is constantly coming up with ideas just from being in the city that is a center of the industry. I can tell that this experience is really going to influence me.”
She’s convinced that a bespoke fashion and business marketing degree will set her apart when it comes time for her job search in a few years too. “I think that being able to explain that I designed this major myself, and with Endicott’s support, was able to pick out such applicable classes is going to show that I have something different up my sleeve,” Dowd said.
Emma Colmary ’25 wants children to love visiting the local library
Sometimes the most important decisions in life take time. It took Emma Colmary a few years to figure out exactly what she wanted to study in college and do with her degree after graduation.
She tried out classes in early education and English secondary education but neither felt exactly right. But after meeting with Alexander, she finally got her lightbulb moment. “I want to be a librarian in a public library and write and illustrate children’s books in my spare time,” she decided. But a standard English degree wasn’t the right fit; the studio art major didn’t offer enough creative writing experience; and the creative writing major didn’t include any illustration courses.
“I had no idea that designing my own major was even an option,” Colmary said. Together, she and Alexander charted out a path. The result is a self-proposed major in writing and illustration for children.
“When I found this major, suddenly everything just felt right. We sat down and mapped out the rest of the classes I’ll take during my time here. I feel passionate about everything I chose,” she said.
Her major is a unique combination of studio art, psychology, education, creative writing, and English courses. Some of her favorites so far have included courses on writing a novel, adolescent psychology, and literature for children.
While studying, Colmary is also working at Endicott’s Halle Library circulation desk, where she is inspired by programming that the librarians facilitate. “It’s inspired me to think about what it would be like to work in the children’s section of a public library and host creative writing nights and story circles. I realized that the elements of teaching involving interacting with kids are still going to be part of my job as a librarian.”
Isis Patterson ’19 is making housing more equitable
At Endicott, Isis Patterson ’19 curated her own major in public policy while parenting a young child. Her choice of major at Endicott was inspired by personal experience with housing insecurity and the drive to make the country’s housing system more equitable. Patterson’s coursework drew from the political science, sociology, psychology, biology, and language departments and allowed her to take advantage of classes offered at other institutions like Salem State University. It was a true liberal arts education.
She reflected on the impact the degree has had in her career: “Overall, my self-declared major in public policy allowed me to conduct independent studies in affordable housing and the racial wealth gap during my junior year that evolved into my thesis project during my senior year. It was also a significant contributor to my semester-long internship and early career in affordable housing policy and development.”
Leveraging her major, Patterson secured meaningful employment in the U.S. House of Representatives after graduation and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in urban planning from Harvard Graduate School of Design with a concentration in affordable housing and community development.
Alexander has seen that those graduating from the program at Endicott do especially well in the job market and in graduate school admissions.
“These students are highly self-directed and they take initiative,” he said. “When they put their unique major title on their resume it gives them something compelling to talk about with prospective employers or graduate programs.”
Learn more about how to declare your own Individually Designed Major at Endicott.