Myrna Borgert: Building a major as unique as her goals

Floral Myrna

After taking time off from her dietetics major, Myrna Borgert was drawn to the Interdisciplinary Program at UC’s College of Arts and Sciences. However, after changing her route, she didn’t want to throw away all the work she’d put into her three years of chemistry courses and nutrition classes.

Unsure of her next steps, Borgert turned to her advisor in the College of Allied Health Sciences. “I told her how my future goals and visions had changed, but I still wanted the opportunity to go back to nutrition, or to practice in something related to nutrition in another degree. She connected me with the advisors in the College of Arts and Sciences to inquire about a liberal arts or interdisciplinary degree.”

The rest is history – Borgert found her current advisor and started navigating the interdisciplinary program.

Myrna fighting for air

Through the Interdisciplinary Program, Borgert was able to shape her college experience to fit her personal learning style. After being homeschooled for elementary and having her personal schedule in high school, she was well-versed in independent academics.

“Through the Interdisciplinary Program, I connected with so many unique individuals all studying different majors to achieve different ambitions. It has been awesome making those connections with students and professors. Conversations with them discussing material we learned in class or just talking about life outside the classroom has made so many tiny ideas come into fruition through projects or research papers.”

The interdisciplinary degree is built around the concept of three “clusters” which allowed Borgert to put her previous courses to good use. “I enjoyed the free form of the degree,” she says. “I could explore the descriptions on all the classes and choose which I wanted to weave together,” she said.

Myrna grassy plains

“My clusters are Nutrition, Anthropology, and Creative Writing. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed making that trifecta work for me, developing my thoughts and ideas, encouraging my interests and world concerns. My favorite part has been telling people what my clusters are, watching them ponder what I could possibly do with that, and then engaging with them about what it is I have a vision for. This program really let me bloom to my fullest potential.”

The transition to making her own class choices was the opposite of what she had gotten used to on the four-year dietetics track. “This is where help from the advisor is essential. My advisor helped me make a list for the classes I needed to take, and I crossed them out as I added them to my schedule and decided how many credits I’d be taking.” She says that keeping track of completed credits in a designated space and checking in with your advisor is essential.

Borgert also benefited from positive experiences with advisors and professors alike. “I was able to build so many close connections with professors in just two semesters, something I hadn’t been able to do over three years in the dietetics program.” In addition to class sizes being smaller, Borgert also points to the fact that she may have been more comfortable reaching out simply because the content she was learning did more to pique her interest. “If that’s the case, I’m even more confident in my choice to switch majors,” she said.

Her unique degree and the self-motivated path she’s taking to get there have prepared Borgert for her future goals, which she describes as self-built and non-traditional. “I want to be in the practice of lifestyle coaching, focusing on nutrition and social interactions. I couldn’t find just one degree that would provide me with the skills and the range of knowledge to make that future become a reality.” Her experience in A&S as an interdisciplinary major has allowed her to apply concepts from one course to another, seemingly unrelated, course for truly interdisciplinary learning.

“I would highly recommend this program, especially to students considering an exploratory route,” she says. “It provides the opportunity to channel your interests and doesn’t make you decide on just one thing or load your schedule with minors. It was a great degree for me to transition to when I was part way through another program. The support in the degree from professors and advisors is amazing – if one doesn’t have the answer, they direct you to someone who does. “I never felt lost in the degree because I wasn’t following the paths of 400 other students, but rather I was paving my own path.”

Michelle Flanagan