I remember when I first began looking at colleges, I was enamored with a school that had zero general education requirements. I could take four years filled with nothing but political science classes, focusing only on my interests — what a treat!
If I had gone to that institution, I fear my interests would have remained narrow and incomplete. My liberal arts education at Emory University has been one of the many delights of my college experience. The general education requirements at Emory have given me the opportunity to explore. Each semester, I have made a point to take one course that has nothing to do with my major, just simply because it seems exciting. This freedom to explore has allowed me to cultivate my love of theater through playwriting, where I found a creative outlet in college. It has given me the opportunity to steep myself in Georgia history through a GA Civil Rights Cold Cases class. It has sharpened my activism through my Writing and Dissent class. I discovered that every course I took outside of my major did not limit my political science degree – it enriched it.
Taking advantage of the breadth of experiences offered at Emory has not only shaped me as a student but also as a person. I suppose you could call me a well-rounded individual — I am engaged in political advocacy, play on a sports team and am involved in theater. But these experiences have not simply served to polish a resume; they have been just as impactful as the courses I have taken.
Fair Fight U and Young Democrats of Emory have taught me how to turn my passion into effective and engaging advocacy. The ultimate frisbee team has made me more confident and outgoing, unafraid to embrace my inner quirkiness. The Lenaia Playwriting Festival has fostered my creativity.
The wonderful thing about this is that my experience is not unique. So many students could write a similar reflection and share about the courses outside of their major that have broadened their perspectives and the extracurriculars that have informed their personhood. Each day I am grateful to share these rich experiences with my friends.
Leaving Emory is oh so bittersweet. While I am excited for what comes next, I am sad to leave the friends I have made and the communities I have formed. As much as I won’t miss the perils and anguish of course registration, I found myself wistful as the juniors chose their courses this past month. But I will leave Emory holding onto the person I have become and with the knowledge that I am still growing. Throughout college, I have taken every opportunity to broaden my horizons, and it has shaped who I am.
Beyond Emory, I will continue to jump at opportunities that do not align with my primary interests or previous background, allowing me to come more into myself each day. The dreaded “where do you see yourself ten years from now?” question is no longer a nuisance but a joy. Thanks to my Emory experience, I can confidently say I see myself continually immersing myself in new experiences.
Carly Colen is from Arlington Heights, Illinois and majored in political science and minored in ethics. She was the president of Fair Fight U, served on Young Democrats of Emory’s Senior Executive Board, was a four-year club ultimate frisbee player and was involved in the student playwriting festival, Lenaia. Colen was selected as a Bobby Jones Scholar and will pursue a Master of Peacebuilding and Mediation at the University of St Andrews in Scotland, which will be followed by a Master of Public Policy from the University of Michigan.