The latest installment to the Career Now series explores the topic of finding a major that matches your passion. Our partners at Why Millennials Matter were able to chat with Amy Gilmore, a sophomore at Walsh University and Hesselbein Global Academy Scholar. Find out what Amy had to say!
WMM: Tell us about yourself, Amy.
AG: I am one of 5 children. I am a triplet. Both of my triplets are boys, and I am technically the youngest. Growing up I was always in a very competitive environment. From a young age, I always thought that business was going to be the route that I wanted to go as far as what to study in school. Both of my parents own their own businesses, and they have since I was a little girl. I was always around people that were following their dreams and doing what they are passionate about.
Long story short, after finishing my whole high school career – and my freshman year at Walsh University – I finally learned that business school just wasn’t for me. I didn’t like my classes. It wasn’t interesting. To me it felt like I was just spitting out facts instead of really getting to understand topics. I love to be around people and I’ve always been a big thinker. The classes at the business school just wasn’t what I was interested in. I knew I wanted to switch, but I didn’t know where I wanted to go after that. Every freshman at my college is required to take a philosophy class. I was fortunate enough to take a moral philosophy class with one of my favorite professors. Going into the class, I was not very sure because you always hear these crazy ideas about philosophy. But I just fell in love with it.
We would be given a moral dilemma and they would reflect real life situations. It was a lot different from my other classes. These situations in philosophy happened to actual people. We had to debate and analyze and look at all of our options, and work on these problems that really have no answer. I just love that. I could debate all day. I love the challenge of not knowing what was right and what was wrong. And I think that is so relevant to life. Sometimes you just don’t know what the best decision is. Philosophy really opened me up to that world and helped me work through problems. It really challenges my critical thinking skills… so now I am a philosophy major.
What I want to do with that is – well, I’ve always been interested in global learning, and being open to new experiences and meeting new people, and learning about different cultures. One of the reasons I am at my university is because of a program called the Blouin Global Scholars Program. It’s about 15 people in each class that come in and each class is given a different global issue to study. The global issue for my class was genocide, justice, and reconciliation. Coming into the program, hearing genocide, the first thing you think of is, of course, the Holocaust. Even after just a year of study, I’ve learned that it is so much more than that. Genocides have been occurring since the days of ancient Rome, all the way up into modern time. I’ve just found this new passion to be involved with human rights. There is no right answer as for how to deal with genocide. There is no right answer that has been found. That just fascinates me. People say history repeats itself. In the case of genocide, history repeats itself all the time. People have been committing mass murders against each other for reasons like culture, religion, politics. I refuse to accept that that history needs to repeat itself. Why can’t we have a history that repeats itself where people aren’t killing millions of others based on differences? It really frustrates me. Coming into college, I had no idea that I would fall in love with fighting for human rights, but I have and I truly want to do something about it. Majoring in philosophy has given me the perfect avenue to really improve how I think about things, analyze, and solves problems that seemingly have no answer like we run in to with genocide.
WMM: As a philosophy major, how do you deal with the question,“What are you going to DO with that?”
AG: It’s definitely frustrating at times. When I tell people that I am a philosophy major and they say, “Oh, so you’re going to work at McDonalds.” I say, “No. That is actually not why I am going to college.”
I am a planner. I really want to use the tools that I learned from philosophy to end up going to law school. A lot of times they just don’t really understand. They hear the word “philosophy” and they think that you just talk about things that aren’t real. And that is not it at all! I think you can apply philosophy to anything in life. The skills you learn will end up helping you at whatever job you might have in the future. It’s a very wide skill set, as opposed to just focusing on one thing.
WMM: What steps are you taking to prepare yourself for life after college?
AG: I really try to get involved and meet people that are interested in the same things that I am interested in. I am really fortunate to be a part of the Blouin Global Scholars program, because over 4 years we take classes that focus on genocide and areas that better help us understand the concept. We also take study abroad trips to speak with survivors. This coming December, I’m going to Africa – to Rwanda and Uganda – to talk with genocide survivors there. I’ll be taking a few more trips throughout my college career. The best way for me to learn is for me to talk to the people that have experienced it. You can read books about how many people died during the Holocaust and Armenian genocide, but you can’t truly get a feel for it until you talk to those who have experienced it. And so now I taking in as much as I can and learning as much as I can from the people that gone through it.
I am also a big leader. I try to read all that I can. Anything that I can do to learn. I love to learn and take in information. As an undergrad, it is important that I really focus in on my education so that I can have a good foundation for when I end up starting my career in the future.
WMM: What advice would you give for those who are struggling to find their passion?
AG: I think when it comes to finding passions, it’s really important to find your own path. I think a lot of times, it’s great to have people along your path that you look up to, and you see their job and think,“That is exactly what I want to do.” But then again it is also kind of dangerous to get stuck on a path. You think, “This person did A, B, and C, and they are where I want to be,” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to do their A, B, and C. It’s a different route for everyone. If you would have told me that my path to human rights was through a philosophy class, I would have told you that you were crazy. Just be open to new experiences. Don’t be afraid to take the road less traveled. Take little detours to explore what you are interested in along the way. You never know where it could lead to.
WMM: Anything else you’d like to say?
AG: I want to share one of my favorite quotes by Margaret Mead, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
I just love that quote because when people ask me “What do you want to do with your life?” I say, “I’m going to fight genocide and change the process so it doesn’t happen again.” They look at me like I’m crazy. They think, “okay… yeah… you and your dreams…” and they don’t really pay me any attention. But the quote by Margaret Mead is so true. All it takes is one person. No matter what the movement is, whether it be human rights or slavery, one person had to start it. It’s important to dream big. When people tell you it’s crazy, or that it’s impossible. It’s not. All you have to do is look back in history to see that anybody can make a difference.
#Passion2Action | ACTION ITEM: Future Press Release
Inspired by Amy’s ability to dream big? We challenge you to write a future press release about yourself. Think BIG. Write down events and lifetime accomplishments that you want to happen in your future. Finishing law school, wining a Nobel Peace Price, receiving a sky diving license, running a small business, publishing a book.… Similar to your vision board assignment that allows you to think big and stay positive about your life, your press release should have concrete and specific achievements on it.
Don’t be afraid to dream big. If you believe in yourself, anything is possible. #Major