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Core Curriculum

Student Experiences

Missi Giorgi

At a glance:

Double major and double minor uses Pathways to consolidate her academic interests and integrate them into her extracurricular projects and research.

Since high school, Missy Giorgi has known that she wanted to do social work. She also had a passion for learning Spanish and about Latin America, as well as a curiosity about the environment. At Santa Clara, she channeled her diverse interests into a demanding course load: a double major in sociology and Spanish and a double minor in environmental studies and Latin American studies. Through the Food, Hunger, Poverty, and Environment Pathway, she further expanded her learning through interdisciplinary thinking that allowed her to connect her multitude of ideas and interests from her studies.

“The Whole Is a Sum of Its Parts”

As a double major and double minor, Giorgi points to the Pathway as a critical component of her education, one that pulled together her interests. From vocational goals to personal interests, her studies at Santa Clara University covered a wide range of disciplines and benefited from the interdisciplinary synthesis that the Pathway reflection essay required. In particular, she emphasizes that the process enhanced her learning even though she was already invested in her courses.

“Pathways forced me to articulate what I was learning in ways that my classes weren't necessarily asking of me,” she says. “While each class individually connected its material to the Pathway, the approach in class wasn't cross-disciplinary. I see Pathways as the University's way of making me look at what I studied and articulate why it was important and how it was all connected. I didn't just take class after class; I took a curriculum and I learned something as a whole. These four classes all together, if you think about them hard enough, make more meaning than each one of them individually.”

Expanding on Her Studies

Giorgi's Pathways essay focused strongly on ethical issues behind social policy and food policy. During her senior year, she applied her interest in social work, the environment, and ethics to the environmental ethics fellowship that she received from the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics on campus. She undertook an independent project with the fellowship, conducting interviews with community members in San Jose to research inhibitors of using solar power for the average American.

For her thesis, she wrote a sociological analysis of solar power, a subject she admits she “never would have expected to write a thesis on. [But] the Pathway sparked my interest in looking at people and the environment, and the opportunities just kept falling into place.

“Without the Pathway, I don't think I would've known the ways in which I could combine all these things,” Giorgi adds. “I studied a lot, and the Pathway consolidated it for me and gave me a way to articulate what I had learned and why it's useful.”

Missy Giorgi currently works as an event coordinator and private tutor, and plans to attend law school in the fall of 2014.