Allegheny College

Faced with uncertainty, students opt to 'learn outside the lines' at Allegheny

When Greg Merz studied chemistry and economics at Allegheny College, he did not know that a decade later he would be conducting important research, fueled by a once-in-a-century pandemic. And while much of the world came to a halt in 2020, Merz's everyday life seemed to hit warp speed.

"On a very basic level, I wouldn't be working on COVID research today if it wasn't for my experiences at Allegheny," he explained in a post on the college's website.
Through his undergraduate experiences, he learned the importance of being able to communicate with a wide audience and not just the scientific community.
"I really think this has served me well during the pandemic," Merz said.
As Merz's education illustrates, learning outside the lines can prepare students for nearly anything.
At the Meadville campus, a well-rounded education is more than just a marketing talking point. It is an actionable approach to higher education, preparing students for whatever the future might hold.
Every single Allegheny student declares a minor from an area of study that is different from their major. The goal is to open students to a world of possibilities – and prepare them for the demands of the real world, where job descriptions are rarely clear-cut or narrow and can change in an instant.
The balance of a major and a minor education model allows students to focus while still exploring all of their capabilities.
Prospective students can give their futures a whirl with an online randomizer tool that pairs a major and a minor at mindovermajor.allegheny.edu. Based on the outcome, it presents a number of different pathways the pairing could lead to, along with profiles of alumni, like Merz, who tell about their career trajectories.
Mostly, the randomizer tool is a fun way to start dreaming about where a college journey may lead.
Spinning the wheels, there is Katie Brash, who did not have to choose between art and science. The 2017 grad majored in global health studies and minored in studio art. Now, she is a credentialing specialist for a health tech startup – and a resident artist.
"Art has always been used as a powerful tool to send messages, rally communities and advocate for many different causes," she said.
With each spin of Allegheny's randomizer tool, there is another interesting avenue to a fulfilling career, ranging from a journalist driven by a passion for the environment to an emergency room physician whose minor in Spanish has helped save lives in a way that a medical degree alone would not.
From these diverse voices, a common thread emerges that any level of uncertainty in today's world can take a positive spin, empowering students to explore subjects they may not have otherwise looked into and expand their skillsets to meet present-day needs.
With a broad outlook and wide skillset, students get more out of their higher education journey, whether they've already pinpointed where they want to land or are still exploring.


The Herald