Opinion by Fiona Gautschi

When I look back on my past four years at Marian and think of the classes that have provided the most growth for me, I think of the classes in the humanities. When I first came in as a freshman, it took awhile to get adjusted and find what I enjoyed learning about the most. Sophomore year, introduction to humanities was offered with the possibility of going on the Humanities Scholar Program track if you took the class. I signed up for the class wanting to fill an extra block in my day. After a semester of learning about different humanities disciplines, I realized how much I liked learning within the humanities and I wanted to continue doing that.

To continue the Humanities Scholar Program, students have to take a minimum of five elective courses in the humanities from at least three of the subject areas of English, Fine and Performing Arts, World Languages, Theology, and Social Studies. Although these classes were technically a requirement, I definitely would’ve taken them anyways because of where my interests led me. 

Senior year started and I continued the program by taking honors independent research. As a part of the humanities program, students participate in a research project the first semester of senior year and turn that into a humanities-based project second semester.

When I was originally contemplating what to study, I was scrolling through Instagram thinking about what impacts my daily life the most. Then it hit me: social media is something that influences my life and everyone who uses it.

Through my research, I was able to find three factors on social media that led to depression, social anxiety, low self esteem and eating pathology in adolescents. Those factors were comparison, validation and the time spent. Social Media platforms are designed to be addictive and this is very toxic and draining for users. After learning about how social media usage continues to lead to mental health problems, I think it is important to inform users of these negative side effects.

Another aspect of the program senior year was each student being assigned to a mentor in the building. My mentor was English teacher Mrs. Alee Cotton, who helped me develop my research project and turn it into a presentation for my capstone project.

When developing my research project into my capstone project, I really wanted to see how my research impacted my peers. Five of my friends agreed to participate in a week-long no social media challenge, and I was able to interview them after. They all shared similar experiences of feeling less drained and having more time to focus on important things in their own life rather than comparing themselves to others’ lives online.

Before my presentation, I was met with nerves as I had never presented to an audience in this format before. Being able to stand in the PAC and share my capstone project helped me see that I am capable of public speaking and I can continue this in the future. 

Through the Humanities Scholar Program, I have been able to explore my passions, grow academically, and help strengthen my commitment to service.

My study of the humanities has prepared me for my future and made me the confident, informed, ready to learn person that I am today. I will continue to explore the humanities in college and I’m so grateful for the opportunities I had at Marian that helped me develop my interests.