UNC students majoring in the arts are often asked this question: “What are you going to do with that?”
“And then they always go to the big questions: ‘Do you want to be on Broadway? Do you want to be an opera singer?’” said Lauren Ragsdale, a sophomore double-majoring in dramatic arts and music. “And that’s not really the case for a lot of performance majors. They don’t necessarily study this in order to follow that track. Most of them study it because they love it, and it’s very applicable to a lot of other fields.”
Madeline Chandler cites her creativity in high school for choosing artistic majors at UNC. She is a sophomore double-majoring in studio arts and English with a concentration in writing and editing in digital publishing.
“I chose those because I was very creative in high school,” Chandler said. “In my small town, which is Hatteras Island, I was in a pretty big creative community within the island. I worked at a gallery in high school, so it just made sense to me to pick something that was more of a creative path.”
Ragsdale said she enjoys her majors because of the community.
“I love the people,” she said. “Both majors are fairly small compared to a lot of majors at UNC, so you get really close with them quickly. They’re really wonderful people and they’re so much fun to be around and see every single day and get feedback from and work with - teachers and students both.”
Anish Pinnamaraju, a junior double majoring in dramatic art and communications, feels the pressure of having an unconventional major. Originally starting at UNC as a biology major, he quickly realized it wasn’t his passion, he said. Pinnamaraju said he felt pressure to choose a major that others would consider realistic.
“Some kind of STEM major, like computer science or biology,” Pinnamaraju said. “I deal with a lot of small everyday interactions. If I introduce myself to somebody and I say I’m a dramatic arts major first, it’s this real initial shock, I think.”
While she hasn’t received many overtly negative comments, Chandler said she has experienced some negative assumptions.
“I remember when I went to office hours with one of my professors, and he asked how my parents felt about me being a studio arts major,” Chandler said. “I think it’s a general assumption that your parents aren’t going to be cool with it because it’s not going to get you very far. But for the most part, a lot of people have seemed interested in my majors.”
Pinnamaraju said he has learned to ignore negativity.
“It was a journey to kind of accept that this is really what I want,” Pinnamaraju said. “And being honest with myself, and saying ‘Yeah, I’m really passionate about acting. And I really don’t care if you judge me for it.’”
While it can be difficult to make other creative friends at first, Ragsdale said joining clubs and extracurriculars was helpful. Ragsdale said she made friends with similar interests by joining a show with student theater groups.
“If you want to make friends within the major and you’re just starting out, or if you aren’t a major but you still want to make friends like that, I would definitely recommend joining theater groups or an a cappella group,” Ragsdale said.
Similarly, Chandler also found many friends by participating in organizations, such as Cellar Door and WXYC.
Ragsdale said she finds her major is worth any pushback.
“I just realized that I really enjoyed music and drama,” Ragsdale said. “I couldn’t see myself studying anything else.”
Similarly, Pinnamaraju knows he is doing something he loves, he said.
“Even as a biology major, I consciously made the decision that this is the thing I want to do in my free time,” Pinnamaraju said. “This is the club that I want to do, and then a club slowly became a passion, and then the passion became a lifestyle. And here we are.”
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