Interdisciplinarity for a Cause


My senior year of high school, I was presented an opportunity that would change my life. With a group of students and teacher from my school, I traveled to the Dominican Republic to work with a non-profit organization called The Batey Foundation. While on this trip, we not only learned about and experienced Dominican culture, but we helped build a community center, taught english classes, and helped provide medical resources in the small village of Naranjo. An organization as dynamic and widely ranged as The Batey Foundation simply would not be possible if it weren’t for contributions from people in different areas of expertise.

During our trip, and during almost all trips facilitated by The Batey Foundation, some sort of construction is involved. We helped build a community center in the village for a communal meeting place, a place to provide services, etc. Could a group of students and teachers who know little to nothing about construction get something like this done? Probably not, and even if we could, it probably wouldn’t turn out to well. Had it not been for those with expertise in construction, we would never have been able to contribute, and the foundation would not be able to run the way it does.


Education was also a part of this trip. Going into a classroom in front of a bunch of kids and a teacher with no knowledge of education was very intimidating. I didn’t have a lesson plan or even know what exactly they wanted me to teach. If it weren’t for the guidance of those in the foundation who knew a thing or two about education, I wouldn’t have been able to get through that day or help those kids at all. As another important pillar of the foundation, knowledge of education is vitally important to the foundation. They would not be able to promote or help provide education without some sort of knowledge of it.

Healthcare is also a portion of what The Batey Foundation does. They provide things like medicine and some small-scale healthcare. Obviously, health is something that you need to have a deep knowledge of in order to provide it effectively. It is a dangerous thing to go out trying to provide medical services without really knowing what you’re doing. I think it is clear to see here how this is an important discipline involved.

Business and marketing are key to the success of the foundation. Even if they had 100 great ideas for what to do and how to help, it would never get started or grow without some sort of knowledge in business. Any non-profit needs to be able to market themselves and get people to care and want to help. Organizing trips and planning what will be done is a key piece of this organizations success. This knowledge is what has made their ideas a reality.

Last but certainly not least, it is vital to have an understanding of culture and social studies. Lots of non-profits fail to truly help those they want to help, not because they aren’t doing anything, but because they aren’t doing the right thing. As outsiders, we don’t fully understand these peoples lives, their struggles, their needs, etc. It takes an understanding of the people, the area in which they live, and even their culture to provide truly helpful assistance. Without communicating with them, the foundation wouldn’t be able to help the way they do.

Overall, The Batey Foundation is dynamic and incorporates knowledge from many different fields. This has lead to success in helping those in need and changing lives for the better. Without full and varied understanding, this simply would not have been possible.

If you would like to learn more about this organization, you can click this link to check out their website!

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Study Abroad Personal Statement

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Since I was a little girl, I have always dreamed of what else is out there in the world. As a kid, the places you would likely find me included: out in the woods adventuring, on the swings dreaming of the day I’d be able to fly away and see everything, or at the top of the tallest tree in the yard with my nose stuck in a fantasy book about some far-away land. My passion for exploration has yet to seize. I pursue adventure and new places like a dog sniffing for the bone buried in the backyard; relentlessly and with a feverish passion that lasts no matter how many obstacles I come across. All too often I gaze out a window grinning ear to ear, baffled by how much there is on this Earth, saying the words “there is a whole world out there”. Instead of exploring the woods by my house as I did when I was younger, I go for a drive and flip a coin to choose which way to turn at an intersection, driving until I find something that intrigues me. Instead of going up the trail on a hike and enjoying the view, I’ll purposely go off trail for my own mini-adventure and because of the excitement it brings me. There are times when I just can’t sit still… I have way too much living to do. Needless to say, my love for adventure has inevitably lead to a love of traveling, and I am certain I have contracted a severe case of the travel bug.

Growing up in the small town of Meredith New Hampshire, I didn’t get much exposure to diversity or different ways of life. The public high school in my town consisted of 400 students from 3 different towns, most of whom came from families that had been locals for generations. While I am grateful to have been raised in a cute little town by the lake with a great sense of community, I was bored. I thirsted for a chance to meet new people from different places. I made the decision to attend private school for the last 3 years of high school, this was a whole new adventure and a chance for something new— so I flourished. Before the switch, I had been on the quieter side. I was mild-mannered, low key, and went with the flow. I got along and was friendly with anyone, but I was by no means a social butterfly. Upon switching schools, I met new people, made new friends both older and younger than me from different places with different backgrounds, and I opened up like a flower in the springtime. I was succeeding in academics, athletics, and especially socially. While I did get bored after a few years, I am forever grateful that Tilton School provided me with a chance for my first true cultural experience. Over my spring break, I chose to partake in a service trip to the Dominican Republic. From the moment I took my first Spanish class, I became infatuated with Hispanic and Latin culture. A chance to combine that with my love for helping others and my insatiable itch for travel made for the trip of a lifetime.This trip was life-changing and eye-opening to say the least, but it also served as fuel for the fire that was my need for exploration and travel. After this trip, I knew for a fact that I needed to see the world. Not just vacations here and there, but I needed to be submerged in a culture and truly experience what else is out there. This solidified that my true passion lies in experiencing everything the world has to offer. Since my trip to the D.R., I have traveled internationally to England, Canada, Italy, Germany, and the island of Ibiza in Spain. Although each country and city was an experience of its own and I am grateful for each one, each new place I see, I grow more desperate for a full, extended experience.

By studying abroad in Barcelona, I will finally get to fulfill my hopes and dreams of living in a new country. I want to drown in the new culture and language, see the sights, taste the foods, and take it all in. I want to experience the high of being somewhere new, and I even want to experience the struggle of adjusting to a new place. To be able to attend school and do an internship while I am there is even more amazing. Each and every day will be an adventure, overflowing with exploration and opportunity. I yearn for the chance to no longer dream about that “whole world out there”, but to experience it fully.

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the beginning of my experience with interdisciplinary studies

Angelo Benedetto (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

I would like to start this off by telling you all that I am a science nerd. I fell in love with anatomy and physiology and exercise science; I was excited to learn all about the ways in which the human body works all the way down to the tiny little details. However, I slowly but surely started to feel like I was doing nothing but memorizing facts. I began to realize that I hadn’t really had my own original thought in any of my non-major classes. As much as I loved exercise and sport physiology, I hated that all I did was listen to lectures, take notes, and then memorize the information for a test. There was little to no collaboration, writing, or even assignments. 90% of the work I was doing was just studying for an exam. I loved what I was learning, but not how I was learning it. I was also disappointed in the fact that I didn’t work with people much, and my new knowledge was difficult to explain to others. I loved sharing what I had learned and teaching other people interesting things about science, but I found that it was extremely difficult to get the messages across. I found this information to be important, so why are so many people uneducated and underinformed about the science of the human body, and the science behind exercise and health?
Getting these messages across became my new project. I decided to leave behind my exercise and sport physiology major to instead pursue interdisciplinary studies. Not only did I open up more opportunities after college, but doing this gave me freedom, and the chance to take control of my academics. I think that by pursuing my new major, communication and media for wellness and exercise, I will be able to take my passion for exercise science and help more people with it. By studying communications and exercise science, I am opening up for myself a chance to get important, helpful information across to people in order to change lives. On a more personal level, I thought it was important to prepare myself for learning across the lifespan; I wanted more than to just memorize facts. As Vartan Gregorian wrote, “clearly we have to re-evaluate our entire system of education for what it is: an 18- year learning continuum that prepares citizens for a life of learning.” I feel that I haven’t really had much if any experience with interdisciplinary learning here at Plymouth State. While I am seeing more of it now while taking communications courses, being in exercise science limited my opportunity to study across disciplines. Due to course offerings, my major seems to be more multidisciplinary than interdisciplinary. My two main disciplines are very much separated in the university system, so the interconnectedness is something that I will have to work on by myself as my education continues.
I feel that, unfortunately, most people are way undereducated about science, exercise and health. Based on the way people are dropping like flies due to preventable heart disease, etc, I’d say its time we care to learn about how to make our bodies healthier. However, as much as a scientist might understand what is happening and how to make changes, no one will do so if he cannot communicate effectively with them. As Moti Nissani wrote, “it is dangerous to have two cultures which can’t or don’t communicate. . . . Scientists can give bad advice and decision-makers can’t know whether it is good or bad”. I believe that even with the best information out there on exercise science, it is hurting and not helping the audience if not portrayed correctly.

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Communication & Media for Wellness & Exercise Program Statement

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I have chosen to pursue a degree in Communication & Media for Wellness & Exercise. The program I have outlined is very heavily science-based, with communication courses and photography in it as well. I have a passion for wellness and exercise, and even more so a passion for sharing that with people. Unfortunately, in today’s world, there are too many people who genuinely don’t understand wellness and exercise; I want to share my knowledge with the world to change peoples lives for the better. I chose to make the program more science-based because I feel that having a deep understanding of the human body, wellness, and exercise would make me a very credible source. While my communication and photography classes are important, those are skills that will be built and made better over time, whereas the science involves a lot more studying. I wanted to but these disciplines together instead of just studying either exercise science or communication and media studies. With just exercise science, I wouldn’t have gotten the communication and media studies skills, and with just communication and media studies, I wouldn’t have gotten the scientific knowledge I need. It is a unique combination because of this incorporation of communication and science. Often times experts in a scientific field aren’t taught how to communicate what they know to people who don’t really understand what they’re talking about, the terms they’re using, etc. This combination allows me to learn an immense amount of exercise science and wellness as well as how to communicate it to people who don’t really understand it.

I chose to take Intro to Media & Cultural Studies not only because it is a pre-requisite for other communications courses, but because it is a great way to not only learn about media (a field I will be involved with for my career), and how to reach a variety of audiences. You learn about communication with different cultures and people, which is very important for a successful communication/media career. Communication, Media, and Wellness is quite obviously extremely relevant to my major, in fact, the titles are almost the same. This basically is a course surrounding my major and what I am studying. It is an introduction to exactly what I’m pursuing. Social Media Audience Engagement is a key skill in today’s world for marketing yourself, and for getting your work out in the world for people to see. I will learn skills to do this and to successfully get my work looked at. It will allow me to reach a large audience. Technical Communication is an important class recommended to me by my advisor. It gets into the specifics of communication and builds a lot of skill in that regard. It allows for a deeper understanding of communication. Communication Theory is a course I chose to put in my major because it is key for understanding how to communicate with an audience to change their behavior. I hope to one-day influence more people to adopt an active and healthy lifestyle, so understanding this is key to my success. Organizational Communications is a course that teaches all about effective and efficient writing and speaking. This is a skill-building course for what I would like to do as a career and is an important introduction to communications.

For my QRCO, I chose the class called Measurement and Assessment in Physical Education. I felt that this was relevant because an important part of making a change to health and wellness is being able to assess and interpret someone’s fitness levels, explain it to them, what it means, and what they should do. Human Anatomy & Physiology I was an extremely important class for understanding and learning just about everything about the human body. I learned an incomprehensible amount about our bodies which is key information for other courses that follow. Human Anatomy & Physiology II was again, packed full of information. This class mostly focused on the physiology of our bodies, which is even more important to understand how we work. This class set me up for success in exercise/wellness courses. Human A&P Laboratory I was a hands-on way to learn about information from A&P I. As someone who is a hands-on learner, it helped me to better understand what I was learning in the lecture. Human A&P Laboratory II was again, a hands-on way to learn the information from A&P II. I could see, feel, and experiment more with what I was learning in the lecture, so it took that information a step further. Applied Nutrition for Healthy Living is a key course for the wellness aspect of my major. It is undeniable that nutrition is a vital part of wellness, so learning about this is 100% necessary for me to teach anyone about wellness. Flex, Core & Balance Training not only taught me about how to improve these skills, but I also learned how to communicate and teach people who don’t really understand how exercise works. This is a key idea of my major; I need to be able to communicate with and teach people who don’t understand. Functional Anatomy was all about how the human body moves. This is a key concept for exercise science, so it is something I need to understand to be able to communicate about exercise. Another class in my contract is Intro to Exercise Science. This class is important because it was an overview of exercise science, which I need to understand for my career. It went deeper than just “how to work out”, it was about the science behind it and why things are the way they are. It was a great introduction and set up for other exercise science courses. Resistance Training Techniques, similar to Flex, Core & Balance Training, taught me about weight training, as well as how to teach it. I learned a lot about explaining a type of exercise that is extremely helpful to health, but is also very misunderstood. It is something that is very important for me to be able to explain and communicate about to others. Kinesiology was similar to functional anatomy, but took it a step further with physics. I learned a lot more about the deeper science behind it, which is important to make me a credible source and to help me fully understand exercise and movement. Physiology of Exercise was all about how our bodies respond towards exercise, which is key to understanding exercise, and understanding how we react towards it. This was a key exercise science course toward my major because I learned about different types of exercise on a very deep level. My Physiology of Exercise Laboratory course was a hands-on way to learn about the concepts of Physiology of Exercise. I was able to do testing, data collection, and interpretation. Because science is always changing, these skills will be key to my career for the ability to be continually credible.

This program is quite clearly interdisciplinary. I am taking exercise science and wellness, and combining it with communications and media, which are two very different disciplines. These are two very separate fields, and a lot of people who study either one don’t get much knowledge of the other. Interestingly enough, the only time you really see these together is once you’re in the working world. These disciplines are rarely combined in education. This program is going to prepare me for a career of creating content about wellness and exercise. With my extensive knowledge of exercise science and continually growing communication skills, I will be able to get messages across about wellness and exercise that people without a science background will be able to understand and use to better themselves.

UPDATE 01/23/2019:

A lot has changed for me since last spring. As I learn, grow, and take in all kinds of new experiences, what I want to pursue for my future changes as well. In my earlier years of college, I was obsessed with learning all about diet and exercise. I thought these were the the only two components of health. Over time and through a long process of self-discovery, I have found the importance of other aspects of wellness. As I struggled through personal battle after battle, I discovered that maybe working out and eating salad every day wasn’t the key to my wellness and happiness.

I have fallen in love with the world of holistic wellness, spirituality, and energy healing. I’ve started to meditate every day, do yoga, and focus on my spirituality and relationship with the universe. While these aren’t the kinds of things that are typically taught in universities, I am working on changing my IDS program to include them. I recently discovered Plymouth State’s “Personal Approaches to Transformation and Healing” program. It is a post-graduate program that can be included as part of a masters or done just for the certificate. I immediately started trying to find a way to get these courses into my IDS major (I’m still waiting to hear back from course instructors). I read the course descriptions and was immediately ecstatic. It was like the program was built for me. It’s EXACTLY what I want to pursue, and it’s been right there all along, I just had to do some searching. I went from counting down the days ’til graduation, to looking at houses for next fall so I can pursue this certificate program. While I’m grateful for my knowledge in exercise science and such aspects of health, what I’m pursuing now is so much more fulfilling to me. 

One thing, however, hasn’t changed about what I want to get out of my interdisciplinary degree. I still want to share what I know with people, and I want to change the lives of others for the better. I want to take my experiences and my struggles and use them to guide others in living a well-rounded, healthy and happy life… in all aspects. I always liked exercise and such, but I’ve never been excited about it like I am with spiritual and holistic health. I know many people consider it “weird” or “taboo”, I mean even my own family thinks I’m crazy because I meditate with a crystal on my forehead, cleanse my room with a sage ritual, and read about reiki healing. Luckily, I’ve grown confident enough to tune that energy out and continue to share what I’ve grown to love with others. I do this because I believe it can help people. I want to be a mentor, a teacher, and a friend to people who are a little lost in life, because if they can find their path, they can be the best version of themselves. I truly believe that if more and more individuals are becoming the best version of themselves, the world can change for the better. I want to facilitate that growth and I feel like it is my calling.  It’s like I finally found my “thing” after all these years of searching, and now all I want to do is learn and share everything I can. 

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