At a Glance:
English and Political Science double major integrates interest for community-based work in his American Studies Pathway
Zach Milkis has always been dedicated to civic engagement and social justice, and was involved with the Santa Clara Community Action Program (SCCAP) through all four years of his Santa Clara career. Bringing these passions to the classroom, Milkis also sought out courses that would supplement and enhance his interests. Through the American Studies Pathway, he discovered the value of an education that reflects the needs and issues of the community.
Translating Community Engagement to Academics
Working with the community, Milkis says, has always been an important part of his Santa Clara experience. It therefore complemented his academics well that his American Studies Pathway provided him with a context in which he could explore how American society can navigate issues for real-world and applicable answers.
"One thing I've learned through my education at Santa Clara is that it's one thing to go through the motions and just take classes, but it's a whole other level to really integrate them and think about their impact on your overall education on a holistic level, as well as how to apply them in the world. All of those courses that I took for my Pathway very much followed in suit with the community-based theme by giving me an academic lens through which I could look at our societal issues."
Working Towards Sustainable Solutions
Most importantly, the Pathways system helped Milkis shape academic and career goals by providing new ways to apply lifelong interests. While he has been involved in volunteer work since high school, Milkis points to the interdisciplinary, social justice-focused approach to education at Santa Clara as the catalyst for his efforts to tie in his academics with his extracurricular.
"The concept of social justice and true community engagement, as well as studying systemic and societal issues from an academic standpoint, was definitely new to me and one that I have learned to value in my SCU education. I think the American Studies Pathway helped me discern that what I'm really interested in can be found in academics as much as in extracurricular activities. By combining the two areas of interest, we can begin exploring sustainable solutions.
The influence of the Pathways are evident in Milkis' post-graduate plans, as well. He is considering applying to graduate programs and teaching, and is particularly interested in programs that can incorporate his studies in both English and Political Science. "There are programs that exist that are really interdisciplinary in their focus, and that is what I'm really interested in. I wouldn't want to go to graduate school to study only English or only Political Science. This comes back to the Pathway concept, that shows how there is not just one approach to studying an issue."