The American studies major is student-directed: You'll have the opportunity to shape educational experience through the interdisciplinary courses you choose, as well as your honors or independent study project.

Consider the experience of Evan Olmstead '03, inaugural winner of the Class of 2003 prize in American Studies. Olmstead was a tutor and program coordinator for the America Reads Challenge. Or that of Andrew Higgins '07, an American Studies major who spent two months in Puebla, Mexico working on a project with his anthropology professor, the late Harold Juli.

Where will you go as an American studies major after you leave Connecticut College? Graduates can be found in government and non-governmental organizations, as well as graduate schools and academia, where they are shaping thinking about key issues. American studies graduates can be found after graduation teaching English in Vietnam, playing pro hockey in Slovenia, working on a farm in Spain and in a village in Mexico.

A major in German and American studies, Stephanie Gollobin of Huntington, N.Y., teaches English in Germany and advises an American studies discussion/debate club, and plans to pursue a career in education.

Consider the experience of Christa Thoeresz '05, American studies major:

"For the first two years of college, I signed up for the most interesting classes I could get into -- anything from an English class about the 1960s, to a Sociology class on ethnic and race relations. Each of the classes gave me a different perspective for looking at the world. I didn't have a specific major in mind. But when I looked at the requirements for the American studies major, I realized that it encompassed all the subjects that I had already found intriguing.

One of my favorite classes was 'Gender In A Multicultural America.' My professor was amazing — she helped me see society in a completely different way. It was an extremely challenging class and took a lot of work, but I gained so much, particularly in terms of looking at how groups are marginalized — and how powerful they can be. It was very inspiring."

Through her coursework, Christa interviewed her grandfather, who was of German descent and living in Serbia and put into labor camp as a teen after World War II. One of her internships took her to South Africa, where she worked in the Emerging Leaders Programme at the Desmond Tutu Peace Centre in Cape Town with South African youths of all races who were exceptional for one reason or another. "The premise was that these kids are future leaders, and we can help them make the world a more peaceful place in the future."

Christa now works with Infante Sano, a maternal and child health initiative in Latin America and manages the youths who founded the charity "Kids to Kids."