I wanted to share my original interdisciplinary studies major proposal and reflect upon what I have learned as I near my last semester at Plymouth State University.
As a young entrepreneur with a passion for sustainability and the outdoors, I have been on the search for an education that is both practical and applicable to my life goals. This search for a different type of education that not all students strive to receive lead me to the Interdisciplinary Studies program at Plymouth State University. As a student here, coming from community college, the plentiful options and opportunities excite me. Along with the options, the ability to take control of my education by designing a major that I can have direct connection to has been a way for me to succeed in college. While being close to communities I hold dear to me, PSU is a place that will help me make a greater difference.
I plan to study entrepreneurship, sustainability, and photography here at PSU. These field fit well together and coexist with what I plan to do throughout my life. I am on a search for real and practical education that is hands on and will help me get the skills I am looking for. In hopes to work mostly for myself in my life, my main goal is not to showcase my degree to employers per say, but instead use it as a tool for myself. When Graduating I hope to have a degree called Sustainable and Diversified Entrepreneurship.
Sustainable and Diversified Entrepreneurship is a name for my major that I have put a lot of time into and has stemmed through the vision in which I feel business should be. In a world that is ever changing, one thing that remains the same is the instinctual connection that we have with the natural world. Business should be focused on nurturing this connection. This is where sustainability comes into play. It should be a business’s key responsibly to take sustainability seriously and make it a priority in all that they do. Without sustainability we lose our connection to our roots.
Sustainability also holds another important meaning in my major. If a business is not able to sustain itself, via keeping its doors open or making a profit, then it is instead a hobby and not a business. Sustainability in this sense needs marketing, finance, and management skills to succeed. Then, a business and its operators need to be Diversified to handle upcoming challenges, achieve expansion, and plan for what is next. Diversify is a verb that means to make or become diverse or varied. A diversified Entrepreneur is proficient in more than one skill set. This idea embodies the ideals of interdisciplinarity.
Lastly, to be most successful in the field of entrepreneurship, I must view these aspects through the lens of an entrepreneur. The world of entrepreneurship is much different from the world of business. To be proficient in entrepreneurship you must also be skilled in business, but not all businesses have the skill set in entrepreneurship. One extra dimension that is achieved in entrepreneurship is the startup phase. By viewing ideas in the scope of entrepreneurship you are starting from the beginning and often from scratch.
I am doing my career differently than most students are in college as I have already started it. I am working on starting a drink business called Yeoman Brewing Company. Progress towards this business has been in my mind since freshman year of high school. I sell these drinks at farmers’ markets during the summer and hope to sell in stores in a few years. Starting a business is something that most don’t start until they are out of college, but I am doing it now.
Sustainability is one of the top goals for my business besides being passionate for the environment and the outdoors. It is important that I learn about the environment and the top ways to be sustainable so I can keep my business responsible. Courses in Conservation (BI 3240) and Permaculture (EPL 3500) will help me think of resources and the environment in a way that allows me to manage them most effectively in a sustainable way. Business and the Environment (BU 3220) and Sustainability in Practice (SO 3605) will bridge the gap of those ideas to my personal life and the business world.
To diversify my business is selling different types of drinks as well as working to sell some food products. I make iced tea, cold brew coffee, kombucha, chaga, and lemonade. By increasing the types of beverages I sell, I am giving more chances for customers to find a drink that they will like. In my major, I have encompassed ways to make myself diversified. Special Topics in Photography (PT 4600) and Film and Video Production Techniques (CM 3750) give me the background to visually market businesses. With a capability of in-house photography and video comes money savings and flexibility for your business. I plan to get a photography minor to help assist this. Professional Social Media (CM 2995) will help my social media marketing skills. Today social media marketing is important to a starting business and its overall vitality. Learning other aspects of marketing, like Digital Marketing (BU 3485), Branding and Marketing Communication (BU 3370), and receiving a marketing minor will round out my Diversification.
Finally, it is vitally important to take entrepreneurship courses that will prepare me for success as an entrepreneur. Small Business Management (BU 1999) and Leadership and Strategic Management (BU 2999) are two courses I took with the community college system that were transformative in my learning to think as a small business and the leadership that is required. Business Statistics (BU 2240), Design Thinking and Venturing (BU 2460), and the rest of the TIDE Certificate courses will finish up my contract. Taking the Apex Accelerator course as a Business Internship (BU 4050), had been especially helpful in learning how I want to move forward and grow my business.
After speaking with many advisors throughout my disciplines on campus, I gained a greater approach to Interdisciplinary Studies that works for my goals. Amy Villamagna, a conservation Ecologist in the sustainability department, pointed me in the direction of the right sustainability classes that would work for me. Knowing that many sustainability classes were listed in my contract and that sustainable was in the name of my contract, Brain Eisenhauer explained the importance of making sustainability part of my major instead of minoring in it. Eun-Ho Yeo of communication helped me get in contact with Dr. Ray who teaches social media classes. Phil Lonergan of art and photography helped me find the courses in the photography minor that would best work for my entrepreneurship goals. My favorite advice was from Eric Spieth who said, “Marketing is what business should have been called”, which helped me realize how important marketing really is to my goals.
Sustainable and Diversified Entrepreneurship encompasses the aspects of business that matter the most to me by looking through the lens of an entrepreneur. These teachings will directly impact me, so I am able to take care of my local area, my planet, and succeed with my dreams of being an entrepreneur. Sustainable and diversified entrepreneurship works together as a set of ideals as how we want to take care of our community, the environment, and how to succeed as an entrepreneur. The Interdisciplinary approach in creating sustainable and diversified businesses starts with core beliefs of making a difference that is innovative and gives back to a greater cause. By receiving a Bachelor of Science in Sustainable and Diversified Entrepreneurship I will be equipped to start sustainable and diversified businesses and help other businesses and entrepreneurs around my communities.
As I reflect upon my experience, I recognize many outcomes that have come true and those that did not. I had the great pleasure of receiving a diversified education as I had hoped. The sustainability and conservation courses on my contract fostered my interdisciplinary approach to rethinking the way we care for the planet. I received an even greater entrepreneurship education than I originally anticipated. The Transformation Innovation and Design Entrepreneurship Certificate courses have had an incredible impact on my business planning abilities.
The success with the entrepreneurship classes made me decide to drop the Marketing minor in exchange for a minor in Media Studies. I was grateful for that switch being able to lighten the load while opening new door. Unfortunately, with the struggles of semester schedules, the multiple social media courses I planned to have were not available to me. In response I hope to study social media marketing in future programs.
Furthermore, the biggest take away for me with my undergraduate education has been the conditioning that has stemmed from the learning outcome. It has been far less about the skills I have learned like I thought it was going to be. Although I have many skills that have come out of my time at PSU, there is a greater success. I have learned how to successfully learn. Because of my time at Plymouth, especially through the process of interdisciplinary studies, I have challenged my ability to fight through adversity in obstacles that would have been much harder in the past.
As entrepreneurship has been a cornerstone of my major since the start, I have been persevering through challenged with my start-up that I never would have imagined, but it has been possible due to this scope of learning I have encountered. Having a growth mindset has changed my life. I have used my gained knowledge in sustainable entrepreneurship to work on multiple new business ideas for the future and as a consultant for local projects. I am even able to apply my education in my current role as Student Assistance Program Coordinator at Woodsville High School. This interdisciplinary role leads me to market prevention, lead group projects, and teach sustainability in the outdoors. I hope to continue to use my degrees knowledge to better my community, improve the environment around me, and embrace interdisciplinary entrepreneurial projects from my passions.