Why I’m Grateful that People Question My Degree
Lauren Morry is a fourth-year student studying Humanities.
Last weekend I was at a social gathering with some friends. We were talking about school and sharing our program choices. When it came to be my turn to talk, and I said “Humanities,” my statement was met with a scoff and a “what is that, and what are you going to do with it?”
This is a common situation for myself and my peers in Carleton’s Great Books program. It seems as though our degree choice, the Bachelor of Humanities (BHum), provokes that response almost instinctively. Often the question comes out of sheer curiosity and receptivity. Sometimes, however, it is more accusatory; ‘how dare you study something that isn’t directly career-oriented?’ In either case, I take a deep breath to ready myself and explain this:
My degree gives my life meaning, and yet it is greater than just me. We study the perennial questions of humankind: Why are we here? Why is our society the way it is? What does it mean to be human?
What am I going to “do” with my degree? I am going to be a more informed citizen of Canada and the world. I am going to understand our society from the very foundations that shaped it. I am going to always face life with curiosity, in pursuant with Carleton’s motto: “ours the task eternal.”
Even when the question comes from an accusatory position, I am grateful. Justifying my degree allows me to remember why I chose it in the first place, and why I love it. I remember the hours that I spend with my classmates discussing those age old questions as thinkers have for millennia before us. I remember the laughs about making puns out of philosophers names—Aristurtle, anyone? I remember the tears after reading tragedies, because even though they were written hundreds of years ago, we still connect to them. I remember it all, and then I smile and launch into my explanation.
Perhaps I should indulge in the root of the question: what kind of jobs are we going to get? Simply, the answer is whatever we choose to pursue. With my colleagues gaining entrance into top law programs, acting as doctors, policy makers, public servants, authors, professors, and more, the world is really at our fingertips. Even more importantly, it’s a world that we are equipped to understand.