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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

Before I dive straight into my experience in the classics department, I simply want to state that there is no such thing as making a wrong choice in the world of college academia. I was originally a biology major before I realized that it was not the path for me, nor did I have the skill set for this specific matter of studies. Luckily it took only one semester for me to discover I was in the wrong field for myself. I eventually figured out what I was passionate about due to two classes that I simply took a slight interest in along with the need to fulfill some general education credits. As a freshman, I did not have anyone telling me which classes would be difficult or worth my time and attention. I was really lucky to randomly choose two classes that solidified my interests. These two stepping stone classes were “The Passion and Power of Rome” (taught by Zachary Herz) and “The Archeology of Human History” (taught by Jeff Brezinski). My change of heart regarding majors fell into place by chance. “The Passion and Power of Rome” was quite a preview of what a classics major studies. 

In this specific class, we covered a wide variety of literature from the Romans. I know, it sounds boring when I put it like that… except, this class widened my perspective of the ancient Romans. This specific society is usually seen as a violent culture that is less intelligent due to its “brutal” sense of superiority along with a strong military force. Until this specific class, I never quite paid attention to key historical figures in Roman times. I mean, I knew Julius Caesar and the name Spartacus, but I never knew that there were “Good emperors” vs “Bad emperors”. The interesting part is that the literary material we read was translated from sources that stemmed from ancient Roman writers. These accounts of history had to be taken with a grain of salt due to the biases that can drown out the genuineness of any sort of account. I always had an interest in ancient civilizations when I was a kid, and this class along with the help of the professor’s enthusiasm refueled this interest. I ended up taking one more class with him, which I would highly recommend to anyone, especially if it’s taught by him.

As we all know, there are general education requirements that need to be met, but these specific credits may lie outside of your desired field. I’m going to let you in on one of the most interesting classes to fulfill the global perspective section for the diversity credit requirement. Let me tell you, there was not a single boring moment when it came to this class: “Gender and Sexuality of Ancient Romans”. I am aware that it may seem boring at first glance but trust me, there’s nothing boring about Roman culture when it comes to sexuality. It was quite a nice surprise to see Roman intricacies when it came to gender roles, along with the society as a whole. I don’t want to say too much about this class, or it would spoil some of the historical sexual shockers of that time. But, I will say that orgies, sexual dynamics, and sexual public displays by infamous Roman emperors are definitely on the table.

Throughout my years as a classics major, I have had the chance to reflect on numerous issues of today’s world in comparison to past civilizations. I also appreciate that this specific major does not confine you to one specific study when it comes to these ancient societies. It is quite interesting to see how much has changed in history when it comes to issues of gender, race, and social standing. One of the perks of this department is that there are options depending on what you personally like to focus on. I lean more on an anthropological approach when it comes to the interworking of ancient cultures. This personal preference is very helpful due to the overlap that the classics department has with other academic focuses. These overlaps include but are not limited to history, art history, anthropology, sometimes philosophy, and architecture. In other words, even if you are in the classics field or the other studies mentioned, you have room to explore within your broad interests. I have taken a film class that looked at how films themselves treat classic material, an archeology class that revolved around ancient Egypt, a basic Greek mythology class, and much more. Even if you decide that the classics department is not quite your thing, this specific department is a great source to fulfill those pesky gen ed classes. General classes can be quite boring when they aren’t in your field, so you might as well take something fun!  

On the topic of fun, I also recently began taking part in CU’s classics club. This club is not limited to just classics majors, anyone is more than welcome to come to join our events. We hold an event once a month, and will always provide dinner! We usually are a fan of pizza to go along with our variety of events that can include: classics movie night, vase painting, trivia night, and more. Hopefully, this semester we will get a chance to even throw a toga party, not in the sense of the animal house, but more historically based!  

One important thing to note about the classics department is that it’s not overwhelmingly big as compared to the business department, but instead, a size that is quite beneficial. The classics department is not tiny, but it’s not huge in the sense that you won’t get the classes you want. Instead, the classics’ feasible size makes classes more personalized in teaching methods while allowing more discussion to break out during class times. The classics department also has a great staff of professors and instructors that care for the quality interactions academic interests can bring. I am nearing the end of my college career within the span of fewer than two years, and I have not run into a single classics or anthropology professor that wasn’t enjoyable.  

Overall, I would say that I’m proud and glad to be a part of the classics department. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “what do you do with a classics major?” Surprisingly, there are actually quite a few career path options when it comes to these particular studies. A majority of classics majors find themselves in law school, pursuing a teaching career of any level, doing administrative work or museum work, or even being directly involved with archeology and other physical studies of ancient civilizations. There’s even the possibility of landing yourself in a language-driven field such as Latin/ Greek or becoming a famous translator of the native written works we have from way back then. The only annoying part about being in the classics department is that the word “classics” makes peers and strangers think that we are a subsection of the literature department. In fact, classics is most definitely not solely based on literature itself, but instead is a fair mixture of history, literature sources, and a focus on art and architecture as a whole. But, there is a positive to this confusion of peers who are curious about these studies. While they may think I am studying Jane Austin and other classic authors throughout history, I get to throw them into a world of shock due to the weird, humorous, and left-field historical events that I can confidently talk about due to the variety of studies that have been discussed in the classes!

Katie Jacobson

CU Boulder '23

Katie is a Senior at the University of Colorado- Boulder. She is currently studying in the Classics department along with minoring in Anthropology and Creative Writing. Her hometown is Laguna Niguel, California. In her free time, you can find her discovering new music, reading, or grabbing a bagel from the Hill.