Friday, May 04, 2012

The Twisty Turny Journey of the Interdisciplinary Student

Tiffany A. Christian ‘99

When I transferred to Pacific in 1997, I had one goal: complete my BA in English literature. It didn’t take long for me to realize, though, that I could do more. 

I took on a second major in creative writing as well as two minors in history and music. I never thought that I was reaching in so many directions because I wasn’t satisfied with the idea of thinking about life, the universe, and everything from only one angle. I just loved too many subjects.

After Pacific, I decided to tackle grad school, and here’s where things get funky. I applied to New York University’s creative writing program, and I was roundly, wonderfully rejected. So it goes. 

However, an interdisciplinary program at New York University invited me to join their ranks. This was my first taste of anything beyond English as a focus, so I jumped at the opportunity.

My experience at NYU opened my eyes to a whole world of possibilities that didn’t include studying literature. I think that scared me, so I switched to an MFA in creative writing at Chapman University, which I completed in 2005. Then I started teaching, figuring I was finished with my academic pursuits.

That’s just funny.

I felt like I was falling down the rabbit hole, so for three years I tried to wangle my way into PhD programs in English. Three years of being rejected makes a girl think about things, and I wondered whether I was headed in the right direction. On a whim, I decided to take a cultural anthropology class. And that, as they say, is that.

Skip ahead to 2008, and I found myself entering yet another master’s program, this time in folklore. I wondered, why on earth would I go for another master’s instead of continuing the pursuit of the PhD? But during my three years at the University of Oregon, I discovered the art of film making. Don’t get me wrong, I love writing. I’m a bit of a nerd like that. But film making fulfills something in me that I didn’t even know I was lacking. And I might not have discovered my love of the art had I not decided I needed to make a move sideways instead of trying to push myself forward.

Thirteen years after getting my BA in literature, I find myself doing crazy things such as attending anthropology conferences as a folklorist filmmaker. It just goes to show that the journey doesn’t have to end with the BA. Really, it’s just the beginning.

Christian '99 graduated with a degree in creative writing from Pacific. She continued her education and received an MFA in creative writing from Chapman University in 2005.  She also earned a master's degree in folklore from the University of Oregon in 2011. Currently, she has been admitted to the Ph.D. program in American Studies at Washington State University.

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