Humanities vs. STEM by Melanie Macias

My mom used to tell me that when I was a little girl I used to hold a stick point to the wall and make both her and my dad repeat after me. “I thought you will always want to be a teacher,” she said, more or less until I was 5 years old.

I have flashes of memories of me wanting to be a secretary so badly. I once put on a skirt with a shirt and a blazer, and in this memory I see my mother telling me, “Mija, you look like a businesswoman.”  I told her, “No, I’m a secretary. This is how Mary, a secretary in a show my mom and I used to watch, dresses up.” Yes- eight year-old me wanted to be a secretary just because I liked the way they dress.

When I was about 10 years old, I had a cat who had four kittiens. After a month or so, I decided to take the kittiens out in the sun and I wanted them to see how beautiful outside was. The place they were in was a cold and dirty place, so I took them out. A dog bit one of the kittiens. As I had him on my hands, I yelled “Mom!” and she told me to put some cream on his belly, saying it might help him with the pain. 10 minutes after I put the cream on him, he bit my finger and died. I cried uncontrollably, but guess what? For a whole year, I wanted to be a vet.

OOOH, Melanie is growing up and it’s not just about the looks or imitation of what others do.

When I moved to the United States, I was 12 years old. Coming here was a struggle due to my lack of English, but I was amazed to see how different, but at the same time how similar the U.S. was to Ecuador. I was even more amazed to see how in one country there were so many cultures. Did you guess yet? I wanted to study tourism and teach others about cultures.

I was a freshman student in high school when I asked a sophomore girl what she wanted to study and she told me international business. The word international caught my attention and I asked her more about it. I liked the idea of representing companies in other countries, knowing the different needs and wants and offering a good/service based on other people cultures or just making the network of the company I'll be representing much more bigger. And, I have to be honest on this one, I did my own research and ended up comparing tourism and international business. International business jobs are so much better paid than a tourism job.

For five years my career goal was to become an international businesswoman, but not just any international businesswoman. I wanted to own my own tourist company. Have my own chain. Accommodate people in different countries and help them learn about the culture of the country they were in. Oh yes, because I was going to have a world-wide tourism chain.

Yes, that was a big goal I had. “Had?” you might ask yourself, or the fact that I said all that in the past tense made you think “She is going to change her career goals, AGAIN?”

Yes, I did.

Over the winter break, I had so many thoughts in my head. I thought about the unthinkable. Yes, I overthink about 7 days a week, 24 hours a day… 🤷‍♀

I thought that my career decisions were based on people’s opinion on this modern world. In this modern world, where a person is more respected if they earned more money- hence, my last career goal. In this modern world, you’ll be respected if you pursue a STEM major. I don’t want to do that, so that’s why if you pay attention through all my career goals there was a trend, me wanting to teach. I want to teach you what you don’t know. Once I was scrolling down social media and saw this phrase, and it would always be in my head “The fact that you know something, doesn’t mean someone else knows it too.” So educate, don’t humiliate!

Now every time I meet some new, especially at Stony Brook University, and I get asked what’s my major, I say Spanish because I want to become a teacher. I get different types of looks, questions, and comments that go something like this...

“You go to Stony, why don’t you do a STEM Major?”  

  • Because I don’t want to… 🙄

“You’re cheating you speak Spanish…”

  • I’m not an expert in Spanish, I want to be a better writer. Plus my goal is to teach, what better to teach something “I know”   🙄

“Isn’t the Humanities department being cut from Stony?”

  • Yes, unfortunately. This school prioritizes STEM majors.  🙄

“Won’t you get annoyed with high school students?”

  • Sure! If I get students like you, Pedro!  🙄

No, I didn’t answer any of those questions. At least not like that, but you can be sure I rolled my eyes like that though. 🙄 (a bad trait that Melanie has).

All that being said, I hope you choose a major because you’re passionate about it. I hope you choose it because you picture yourself doing it, and feel butterflies in your stomach. I hope you choose it because you want to help others. I hope you choose it because YOU want to do it, not because you’ll earn more money, or because others would see you with more respect. Believe me when I say, whatever career you choose you’ll be respected! Don’t let society tell you where you’ll be respected and where would you not!