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Core Curriculum

Student Experiences

Jessica Reiner

At a glance:

Through the "Applied Ethics" Pathway, psychology major takes extra classes outside of her major to fulfill her personal academic interests

Jessica Reiner '13 always knew she wanted to take classes that not only fulfilled requirements for her major but also interested her, even if that meant taking an extra class during a term. After taking an Introduction to Philosophy class with Professor Brian Buckley during her sophomore year, she “fell in love with the subject.” Since then, has continued to enroll in ethics and philosophy courses outside of her major.

Meaningful Connections

One of the aspects Reiner appreciated most about the Pathway and the ethics courses was how applicable the lessons were to the real world, especially her interests in the mental health field. “I really wanted my Pathway to be something I was passionate about so that I could get everything out of the Santa Clara education,” she explains. “I felt that the ethics courses and the Applied Ethics Pathway were really applicable to my own life, since ethics relates to many aspects of the mental health field, so I took a variety of different courses that sparked my interests and could be connected with my goals.”

The courses Reiner took covered a wide range of topics, but all pertained directly to issues that she would encounter in her life: the “Ethics of War and Peace” class, for instance, discussed issues of religion, political unrest, and war. "I wanted to be aware of those issues to develop my own moral standpoint," adds Reiner, who notes the prevalence of global political issues in the past decade. In classes such as "Science, Technology, and Society" and "Ethics and Gender," she considered often-controversial and important topics such as stem cell research, rape, and abortion. "All of these were very real-life and real-world issues," she explains. "It was really easy to consider what's happening in the real world now and connect them to class," even though none of the three classes fulfilled any of her major or core university requirements.

One class that did relate directly to psychology, however. "Ethics in Psychology" provided Reiner with an opportunity to examine the types of ethical issues she would have to deal with as a professional in the mental health field. Issues such as professionalism, confidentiality, and privacy were all topics brought up in class that Reiner says would be relevant in her future work.

More Than Just Requirements

Looking back at her process of writing the reflection essay, Reiner notes that choosing a Pathway that related to her interests helped her fully integrate the extra classes she took outside of her major with the rest of her education. “Those four Pathways courses were some of my favorite classes at Santa Clara, so it wasn’t hard at all to think about what I would write for the essay. It was enjoyable to look back and see how my classes were all connected to my goals and interests. All my professors have really made an impact in my life and on my education.”

Reiner also emphasizes the benefits of taking courses beyond the standard university requirements. “I didn’t want to do a Pathway that simply fit the classes I already needed to take for my major. I wanted to branch out, and in my experience, it made my education that much more meaningful.”

Jessica Reiner currently works as a school administrator.