Liberal arts carries a stigma that obtaining a degree in this field will leave students with limited career options. However, the options are far from limited. Captain Annaleise Satz, a 2011 Boise State graduate with a bachelor’s degree in linguistics and a 2013 graduate with a bachelor’s in political science, recently became the first female pilot of the combat jet F-35B.
Satz’s training took four years to complete and allowed her to travel all over the United States. While not everyone can become a fighter pilot, a liberal arts degree has a diverse reach in different career fields.
“At each of my training schools I did my best,” said Satz in a statement for the Marines. “I truly believe that showing up prepared and working diligently are two major keys to success.”
During her State of the University address on Aug. 21, President Marlene Tromp referenced the importance of a liberal arts education and the diverse analytical skill set it teaches people, such as writing and communicating well.
“An English degree, as President Tromp stated in her address, can prepare you for any job, from fighter pilot to University President,” wrote Mac Test, English department chair, in an email. “There is no ‘normal’ career for an English major.”
Different career options for liberal arts degrees present themselves within Boise State students.
After receiving his English degree, Test became a computer programmer and moved on to become a mate and medic for a large factory trawler, where he spent 13 years fishing the Bering Sea.
“English and the humanities prepare students to be kind, generous, understanding and open citizens,” Test wrote. “Democracy counts on an electorate that can think critically about issues, analyze both sides, seek out evidence, make sound arguments and sound decisions.”
Going into a more hands-on career field can also be an option for students, but they are not limited to just that. Hailey Scott, a senior linguistics major, is aiming to receive her master’s in speech pathology.
“The main reason that people with linguistic majors go into speech language pathology is because they really like phonetics entomology, which is parts of speech, the sounds of speech and the contrast of sounds of speech,” Scott said.
Her passion is to help children overcome and correct their speech impediments. She believes her degree in linguistics will aid in understanding the language better.
“I think it really does make you think about the world in a different way than you did before being educated on the mistakes (of language), because it makes you evaluate all of your language,” Scott said. “And language really is the basis for the lens in which you view the world.”
Sam Heidelberg, a junior English education major, wants to pursue a career in stage management and a nontraditional teaching career. She wants to make Shakespeare theatre more accessible and understandable to younger students.
“I’m learning how to think critically. I’m learning how to communicate clearly and talk about complex ideas in a concrete way. You can do a lot of different things with that,” Heidelberg said.
The sky’s the limit, both literally and figuratively, for liberal arts degree-seeking students. According to Scott, with a background in human connection and critical thinking, anything is possible.
“For my degree, I think English really lends itself to non-traditional paths in a way that people don’t always see,” Heidelberg said. “And being able to take big ideas and explain them clearly and succinctly is something you need. It’s so important.”