When students enroll in college, they usually come in with particular academic interests. Those academic interests then turn into a specific major that will help the student develop certain traits and skills they will need in their future career.
In some cases, a student will wish to expand their college experience and “add on” another major, known as a double major. While some students will have one degree by the time they graduate, others may have two, or even three.
Senior Svea Larson decided to double major in History and French after her freshman year when she realized “it would be the best way to study abroad.
“I just kind of fell into it (majoring in French),” said Larson. “The French professors here are really awesome, and they had a huge impact on me…I wasn’t planning on it when I came here.”
Senior Maddie Lapping added on her second major in History to her Exercise Science Integrated Physiology major after her sophomore year.
“I was originally going to minor in it,” said Lapping. “History was always really interesting to me, but in the fall of my sophomore year I took the Holocaust class with Rick Jobs and I found the class very interesting and decided to take more history classes.”
After Lapping began taking more history classes she decided to major in history instead of minoring because “then I thought for PT school, it would look good to double major,” said Lapping.
Two majors can mean twice as many problems for a student. For Lapping, her problems came about during registration.
“It’s constantly hard when I am registering for classes,” said Lapping. “I go in with certain classes, and like every college student their classes change when they come out of their advising period. Mine changes twice between my two advising appointments.”
But of course, to be a senior that’s a double major is a little more work. Two majors usually means two senior projects.
Lapping said she is going to take on two separate projects.
“Right now, I am focusing on history and then I will do my exercise science (project) later on,” said Lapping.
Lapping said her first project will be centered on Jewish eugenicists’ influence in the Eugenics movement between 1880-1920.
“The eugenics movement deals with a social construct of Darwinian ideals with superior and inferior race,” said Lapping, “There is the question about the ‘Jewish problem’ leading back into the 1800’s.”
The reason it intrigued Lapping was what led to the Nazi’s implementing laws that the Jews are the inferior race.
Lapping found the inspiration behind her senior thesis on a trip with her family to Vienna and Prague. It was there that Lapping discovered a Jewish quarter that was ordered by Hitler to remain unharmed.
“On a tour, I found out Hitler wanted to keep a Jewish quarter unharmed, and that was the only place in Europe because Hitler wanted to show what an extinct race looked like,” said Lapping.
On her return home, Lapping spoke with her history adviser on what she had learned and he had her look into eugenics.
“He knows my background with Judaism and with science, so he told me to look into eugenics during WWII,” said Lapping. “At the beginning I was really not that into it and then I read my first book ‘The Nazi Connection.’ It was so interesting and then I looked into Jewish involvements in eugenics and that’s where my thesis has led to.”
Even though her thesis is still in the early stages, Lapping is hard at work.
“What I say is I’m in a relationship with my thesis,” said Lapping, “I am working on it all the time. It’s so interesting that I just want to focus on that specifically, but I have other classes.”
While some double major seniors choose to complete two senior projects, one for each major, others find a way to incorporate both of their majors into one senior project. Larson has chosen to do this.
In order to incorporate both her history and French majors, Larson decided to do her thesis on the French rock and roll era.
“The Yeye is a type of French rock and roll that was in the 60s,” said Larson. “So I’m going to be looking at the Yeye and a French magazine called ‘Salut Les Copains’ in order to look at how women used music as a community space to build group identity.”
Larson explained that since this does have to do with France directly it counts towards her French major. However, she will still have to translate her entire presentation into French and present her thesis twice.
“The idea is that you’re still researching in French,” said Larson.
Larson stated that History professor Rick Jobs helped direct her toward her thesis.
“I had taken a history of rock and roll class from him, which I really enjoyed, and a lot of that is manifested in how youth culture is,” said Larson, “plus I like music so he suggested I look up ‘Salut Les Copains’ and after reading into it I was intrigued.”
One of the current challenges Larson is facing is primary sources.
“With history you can’t just read books, you have to have primary souces,” said Larson.
Due to her lack of primary sources, Larson will be making a trip to France in order to fulfill some more of her research.
“Most of my sources are in France, so in January I’m going to be able to go to the Biblioteque Nationale de France for about two weeks and work with the magazines I need for my thesis,” said Larson.
However, even though she is going to be obtaining primary sources, Larson worries about the lack of time she has in France.
“That’s a lot of material to cover in two weeks and I’m just not sure I’m going to get through it all,” said Larson.
Overall both seniors are excited to see the end results.
“I hope my audience understands there is this of eugenics that has been around for a very long time and generally how it has effected history globally,” said Lapping.
“I think for me being able to bring all these thoughts together into a cohesive paper is really exciting,” said Larson. “Plus I’m excited to show how much I’ve learned in French particularly because I didn’t come in a French major. I started at a 101 level as a freshman, so it’s really cool to see how far I’ve come in French just over the last four years.”
“It’s really a testament to the professors because I’m really not that talented in languages but they’re really excellent professors,” said Larson.
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