One-column Associate Degree Annotated Rationale Essay
I’d always had a passion for arts and humanities, in particular visual and theater arts as well as psychology, sociology, and the overall human condition. [s1] It’s fascinating to marry the arts and social sciences, especially in fields such as social theater. I didn’t actually participate in theater arts until my adulthood, but I did indulge my creativity by taking art courses before I came to ESC. I also worked as a visual merchandiser/display person for department stores. Once I realized that gig “didn’t pay the bills”, I moved on to secure a job at ____ knowing it would prove meaningful and cater to helping others.
I am driven to get my associate degree for personal satisfaction. [s2] Learning has become an exploration of knowledge for the sheer enjoyment of it versus doing assignments or taking tests to get a good grade or upping my GPA. I am currently working in my company’s Driver Safety program which has been in existence since 1979. This program proves to be both complex and rewarding due to its size and scope because of its cadre of 7,000 volunteers throughout the U.S. and its territories that teach safe driving courses with a focus on the older driver to over 400,000 participants annually. Ultimately, the degree could help me move beyond being in an administrative support role and into a project manager position. I do not need a degree in any particular area in order to move up in my organization; the fact that I will have a degree is what is important. [s3]
Though securing the Associate’s degree is the primary goal, it was my desire to study areas that interested me by exploring different types of courses that in some way relate to one another whether directly or indirectly. History fits with sociology, which fits with psychology, while weaving in the art mediums at times. I look at things holistically instead of in a siloed manner, and I tended to choose courses that interested me at that time, or that I felt had relevance to what I was doing. [s4] I specifically chose a course in management principles because there’s a business side to everything. For example, Driver Safety helps by saving lives and is “in it” for the greater social good but there’s also a business and complex operational side to running this type of program that we national staff must understand, as we offer solutions to help our volunteers do their jobs better in their communities. There is also the opportunity in this program to be creative with marketing it on varying levels and in the different age and multicultural demographics that make up the older population, perhaps transcending relevance to all driving ages.
Another example of my interests and holistic outlook driving my course choice is the course, Introduction to the History of Western Architecture. This course blended history, sociology, anthropology, art, innovation with construction and technology, topography, environmental considerations, and so much more. My previous studies in the arts laid good foundation for this study. There are other linkages that I see in my courses as well: psychology and sociology link with management and professional and interpersonal communications. Health and Human Services links with Theatre, HIV, and Community Health. All of my courses will give me a well-rounded Associate’s degree so I can figure out what I want to do later on, even beyond a career at ____. [s5] I know that things can change, and want to address both my various interests and a variety of possibilities in my degree.
I have dealt with change on a personal level. [s6] My husband recently suffered a spinal cord injury rendering him quadriplegic, but because he received such good care and we both received such a good education, I learned to care for his specialized needs. The rehabilitation hospital focused not only on the importance of daily and preventive care but also on recreation therapy, life skills, and more. They instilled in us the understanding that anything is possible, but we may have to figure out a different way to do it. They taught us to be innovative oftentimes by coming up with the simplest solution(s). At this point, we have learned so much that I feel that we could both counsel others undergoing this situation. Our current lives are even better because we both look at things in a more positive light as a result of our rehabilitation training. I am now advising nurses and other health care professionals, psychotherapists, and social workers on my husband’s care, because I am so knowledgeable about his situation. It opened doors for skills I never realized I possessed.
My husband and I have laid the foundation for living our new normal life in the first couple of years so 2012 has become the year for new goals for ourselves, both personally and as a couple. We are not going to be complacent but continue to “push the envelope.” I foresee more exploration in health, psychology/counseling, and even recreational therapy/arts, beyond my Associate degree.
The ESC guidelines for interdisciplinary associate degrees state that “A common reason for choosing the Interdisciplinary Studies area of study is when students are either not yet prepared or do not wish to construct a comprehensive concentration or focus. In this case, all studies are listed within a single column and the program can be regarded as somewhat comparable to a broad liberal arts or social science major at local community colleges.” [s7]
Although I am not subject to general education, because my matriculation date was 1997, I have a broad spectrum of studies in my degree, comparable to a broad general associate degree. For example different areas covered are: Social Science, American History, Western Civilization, Other World Civilization, Humanities, The Arts, and Basic Communication. [s8]
The last course I am taking, Would You Still Love Me If You Knew?: Theatre, HIV, and Community Health, an advanced level of participatory learning with an intensive, rewarding 3-day residency program, is the perfect culmination to this degree because it encompasses all of my interests and most of my classes by taking a deeper dive into what I’ve studied and taken an interest in thus far: sociology, psychology, health and human services, communication skills, history, and theatre arts. [s9] It took the academic experience to a whole other level because the professor, junior faculty members, and graduate students who facilitated the residency learned from us and our well-thought out verbal reactions to each learning opportunity within the class. This class left me breathless with knowledge and yet thirsting for more. It opened my eyes and mind about a culture vastly different than my own by using social theater, non-traditional theater to grapple with the complex layers of health issues within this culture.
Even though my immediate goal is to secure an Associate degree, I plan to move on to secure a Bachelor’s degree where I will explore more of the aforementioned subject matters and will likely plan to focus in a particular area of studies having to do with the arts and humanities for both personal and professional enrichment and growth.
See the associated degree program plan.