Rachel Baker: Combining passions into an Interdisciplinary Degree

Headshot of Rachel Baker

Rachel Baker didn’t originally plan to pursue the interdisciplinary program at UC. Starting out as an Exploratory student, she had taken most of her classes in theater and religion, topics she’d always been interested in but was unable to study in high school.

“Partway through my time at UC, I realized at the rate I was going, I’d be eligible to graduate in three more semesters. So I sat down with John Brolley and we discussed the types of credits I had completed and what clusters they could be counted towards in an Interdisciplinary degree, and what classes I could take to finish out my degree,” she said.

Now, she realizes that the program allowed her to find value in every class she’s taken in A&S, while still allowing her college experience to be both constructive and fun.

“While I have credits that are required, I have enough options for each credit that it would be impossible for me to not end up happy with the classes that I’mtaking,” she said. While UC does offer full-fledged majors in both theater and religion, taking an interdisciplinary route has allowed Baker to evolve into a well-rounded scholar. It’s also meant that she was able to take much of her academic planning into her own hands and figure out what “clusters” she needed in order to finish her degree.

When she wasn’t sure what to do, there were people she could turn to. “The advisors in this program allow you a lot of freedom in what you want to do and are open to talking to you about what skills you’re learning in your classes and how they can or cannot translate into job skills in your ideal career, and other jobs you may have along the way,” she said.

Looking forward to graduation, Baker is confident that her classes and skills can set her down the path to that dream job.

“As someone who wants to act and write for the stage, the interdisciplinary program has allowed me to take classes to refine my skills in researching, writing, performing, and directing without one skill set dominating over the others,” she said.

Baker didn’t start out on the interdisciplinary path, but that doesn’t mean she wouldn’t recommend it to other students. “If in thinking about what you want to do with your career you are finding that no one program seems to suit all of your needs, but you have a vague understanding of what those needs are, you will benefit in looking into this program. The biggest hurdle within this program is that you are limited in what classes you can take because you are not a part of those programs,” she said. “But, the advisors in the department are extremely helpful in showing you the best ways to do that.”

“I am creating a degree that allows me to grow and make connections in more than one field that I am interested in, and that wouldn’t be possible without all of these moving parts coming together.”

—Michelle Flanagan