What Will They Do After Sdsu?

by Staff

Biology, business administration, communication, marketing — thelist of heavily declared majors is long.

San Diego State University grants bachelor’s degrees in 78academic fields. Most have enrollment rates in the hundreds, someeven in the thousands.

But there are majors with smaller enrollment rates, that somestudents have never even heard of.


If this were ancient Rome, the entire student body would bestudying one major — classics. Today, only a few dozen students oncampus have this major.

Classics is the oldest academic discipline. Students in this majorstudy ancient Greece and Rome through language and literature. Thismeans studying works by Homer, Vergil, Aristotle, Cicero and others.These people and their works formed the basis for Westerncivilization.

“Classics is a very demanding field,” said E.N. Genovese,department chair and professor of classics and humanities. “It’s verycompetitive.”

Many classics majors are drawn to the major because of the stigmaattached to it. Every classics major must take a least two years ofLatin or Greek, but typically students take four. They study these”dead languages” to understand the literature in the form in which itwas created.

“I wanted that edge … Yes, I’ve read Cicero in the original,”said Erin Esteves, humanities senior and classics minor.

According to Genovese, classics majors look forward to careersthat typically have to do with communication or writing in the arts,publishing, travel or education. The SDSU Web site said classics canprepare students for law and, with some coursework in sciences, formedicine.

The classics major is not specific training for any one career,but the liberal arts education — what the Romans called “artesliberales” — affords students diverse opportunities.

Genovese compares classics majors to Odysseus, the hero of Homer’s”The Odyssey,” whose great skill is adaptability.

“I just wanted a really broad education,” Esteves said. “I have aprofessor who always says that I will have cocktail partyconversation to last me a lifetime.”

Movies, literature and the arts borrow from the Greek and Latintradition. The recent film, O Brother Where Art Thou, is based onHomer’s “Odyssey.”

“Any kind of literature that we know today is essentiallyfollowing after models that the Greeks and the Romans set up,”Genovese said.

With only six professors in the department, classics studentsreceive a lot of attention. The department of classics and humanitiestries to keep class sizes to 35 students or less. Genovese makes apoint to get to know each of the classics majors.

“(Students) don’t get that when you have 2,000 majors in yourdepartment,” Genovese said.


While classics majors focus on studying and preserving aging worksof literature, gerontology majors seek to study and preserve aginghuman beings.

Gerontologists don’t just work for residential facilities, skillednursing homes and senior centers. E. Percil Stanford, director andprofessor of gerontology, said that former students have been hiredby pharmaceutical companies, architectural companies, the Mariott andTarget to help those companies better accommodate older people.

“It’s one of the fields that is becoming quite prominent in thesense that there are very few disciplines that are going to be ableto move ahead without considering the needs of older people in oursociety,” Stanford said.

The gerontology program is part of the University Center on Agingwithin the College of Health and Human Services. There are currentlyaround 50 undergraduate gerontology majors.


Those majoring in international security and conflict resolution(ISCOR) are interested in preserving the lives of those faced withsociopolitical violence, global environmental issues or nucleararmament.

Among other things, ISCOR majors can become negotiators,intelligence and investigation specialists or United Nationemployees. Some graduates have jobs teaching English in foreigncountries.

“One (student) worked with the Tunisian Embassy in Washington,”said David Johns, professor of political science and program advisorfor ISCOR.

ISCOR is housed in three different colleges: College of Sciences,Arts and Letters and Professional Studies and Fine Arts. The majorhas been at SDSU for almost six years. Enrollment in the major grewsteadily for the first five years.

“It looks like we’re steady at the present time,” Johns said.

There are currently around 100 ISCOR majors, said Johns. Becausemany of the students have taken time to travel, live and workoverseas, they tend to be older than the average undergraduatestudent.

For more information on classics, contact E.N. Genovese,594-5186. For more information on gerontology, contact E. PercilStanford, (619) 594-6765. For more information on ISCOR, contactDavid Johns, 594-2778.