Being a Classics major, one of the most frequent questions I receive is “what do you plan to do with that degree?” Well, considering that getting a job is not the sole reason I have decided to attend college, my answer to this question usually falls along the lines of “I’ve got absolutely no clue; I study it because it’s my passion.” And, while this is both a perfectly acceptable and a heartwarming answer, I would be remiss were I not to confess that I indeed have, once or twice, pondered the future opportunities that my Classics degree will provide.
Coincidentally, it seems I am not alone in my ponderings; my fellow Classics companions wonder about their futures as well with regard to the Classics. This has apparently caught the attention of Whitman College, specifically among the Classics and Humanities faculty. As a result, the college organized a Symposium for students to attend titled “Study in the Humanities as Preparation for a Career in Teaching.” The Classics department flew in three Whitman alumnae, all having graduated with degrees in the Classics. They each offered a brief teaching demonstration, as well as discussed their careers and answered questions about the big, dreadful monster: life after Whitman.
Elinor Westfold (‘07), Mariah Lapiroff (‘13), and Caitlyn Yoshina (‘14) all did a wonderful job at describing their experiences as teachers and giving us the ins and outs of their careers. Students asked their burning questions, including “are you glad you went down this path?” and “in what ways did Whitman properly prepare you for this career?” Enthusiasm for the Humanities filled the room as the students and alumnae opened up about their passions for grammar and literature. The teaching demonstrations were valuable to this symposium, as all three differed uniquely from one another. Caitlyn centered hers around a collective discussion about a piece of art; Mariah engaged everyone in an oral Latin conversation; Elinor taught us about noun clauses with a trivia game. These demonstrations gave everyone in the room a peek at the enormous number of creative ideas teachers can pick up and run with.
What I loved most about attending this Symposium was my post-symposium feeling: enthusiastic. Spending my evening with these Whitman alumnae reaffirmed my enthusiasm for Latin, for grammar, for Whitman, and for life in general. It is wonderful to see what others have done with their Classics degrees and that they are all such enthusiastic, intelligent, successful individuals. I am thankful to attend a school that thinks to provide symposiums like these as outlets for students to learn about future opportunities relating to their major. From great example comes great comfort, and these alumnae certainly bred comfort regarding study in the Classics and the Humanities.