Matt reveals what inspired his decision to switch academic fields.

Switching Majors to Pursue a Literary Dream

Ringbound Notebook

On a late summer evening about three years ago, I was lying on my front lawn, just looking up at the sky. The warm breeze made the grass dance around me, and trees nearby rustled with each small gust. My friends sat up next to me, talking amongst themselves, but my mind was elsewhere. Their voices soon became muffled by my thoughts. I had an idea for a novel.

My mind scrambled for characters, plots, and settings. How many characters should I have? I thought. What should the world look like? Normal? Extraordinary? Within minutes, my imagination ran wild, and had constructed a unique story. I thought it was brilliant and instantly fell in love with it. I began jotting down ideas whenever—and wherever—I could. Scrap paper in study hall. Notebooks lying around my house. My dinosaur of a cell phone that never left my side. Anything to keep my ideas preserved. My story world almost became reality to me.

I worked on it every day. The plot became richer, characters more substantial, settings more vivid. My simple idea was turning into something I was so proud of, that is, until I was sucked back into the real world.

It was the summer before my junior year of high school, and my father approached me, demanding (his only way of communication) that I get a job and start making money for myself.

“I talked to Joe at the supermarket about you working there,” he said. “He wants you to go in for an interview. Be ready.”

I got the job and started immediately. I went there often with my parents for groceries, so I knew the store’s layout and how things worked. This won’t be too hard, I said to myself.

As each day passed, I became more and more accustomed to the routine. It certainly wasn’t fun, but it wasn’t hard. It was time-consuming, though. My book was pushed to the backburner. New ideas came to a halt as the old ones collected dust. And when my junior year began, there was no longer room for my fantasy world.

After my junior year, I promised myself I’d work harder on my novel. It was too important to me to just be forgotten. When I looked at my old notes, there was a burst of new ideas, and eventually, I showed my close friend what I had written.

“Matt, I can’t believe you wrote this!” she said. “It’s so descriptive. I feel like I’m watching a movie!”

After showing it to other people and receiving similar reactions, I realized I had writing talent. Despite this, I came to college as a biology major.

I sat through each class, intrigued by what I was learning but not truly interested. Something just felt out of place, though it took me a whole semester to realize that “something” was me.

Just like the supermarket, my major left no time for my writing. Sure, I’d go to the library from time to time to write, but it was never anything substantial. I wasn’t going to let my writing suffer again, so halfway through my second semester as a biology major, I made the decision to switch to print communications.

My friend, a print communications major, had convinced me to make the transition after reading some of my novel and told me about the chance to have an article published by USA Today.

“Success for you is inevitable as a writer, and if you don’t have a passion for biology, I think you should make the switch,” he said. And he was right.

After having two articles published by USA Today, I realized I had made the right choice. I was confident in my decision. I was sure of my future. But most of all, I was happy.

I entered my first media studies course not sure what to expect. I sat in my chair, fidgeting back and forth, both nervous and excited (mostly nervous). As my professor walked in, the already silent class became quieter as she set up a PowerPoint presentation.

Great—notes on the first class, I thought and reached for my pen and notebook. To my surprise, the first picture that flashed on the screen was of none other than Miley Cyrus with her tongue hanging out. I laughed and thought, “Is this really what we’re learning?”

I think part of me was waiting for a slide about cellular structure or human anatomy or Darwin’s Theory of Evolution. My mind was still wrapped in science. I soon became sucked into the class material though, intrigued by the social theories and lessons on the effects of mass media.

I love writing. I love having the ability to create worlds that others can enjoy. I love that my new major compliments my novel writing. That is why I left the field of biology. That is why I chose Print Communications.

Photo by Sakura