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Students recount decisions to pursue different fields of study than original majors

Michael Natalizio and Jessie Predieri are just two of many students who have switched their career path after realizing their major field was not a good fit. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo Editor

Some students leave their undergraduate schooling ready to take the world by storm, but for others graduate school is an opportunity for a new beginning in a different field of study.

Michael Natalizio entered college as a geography major, which he currently minors in with regional planning, but switched to finance for a “more sturdy” career.

After interning for an investment company, the fourth-year realized his desire to pursue regional planning in graduate school.

“[Investment companies] basically just invested money into struggling companies, which is tough because in a way they are preying on the helpless,” Natalizio said. “So that made me question what I wanted to do because I didn’t really feel like I would make that big of an impact on the world in finance. In a lot of ways, I would have just helped rich people get richer or a corporation succeed.”

Like a lot of students coming into college, Natalizio said he did not entirely know what field to pursue.

“I think it really just took 3 1/2 years of college to really figure out exactly what I wanted to do,” Natalizio said, “And that’s all right.”

Changing majors late into your undergraduate career is a nerve-wracking experience, Natalizio said, because there are a lot of different factors affecting the decision.

“A part of your brain will be telling you that you have to follow exactly what you know you want to do. Then there is another part of your brain that says you should do the safe thing here, and then another part that cares about what other people think,” he said. “Really at the end of the day, you just have to follow your heart.”

For Natalizio, that meant sticking out his degree in finance, but then pursuing graduate school in order to eventually obtain a job working in a job he’ll find more rewarding.

Jessie Predieri started in the exploration program looking for a major in the medical field, and at the end of her first year, picked health sciences because it covers several aspects of the health field, she said.

Predieri, a fourth-year in health sciences, said she began to shadow nurses and work in a hospital part-time, and after two years in health sciences, realized she wanted to be a nurse.

After weighing her options for changing majors as a third-year, and talking with nurses she works with, Predieri decided to finish her health sciences degree and do an accelerated degree for nursing in graduate school.

“If I want to be a nurse, I want to be a good nurse, and if I want to be a [nurse practitioner], I want to be a good [nurse practitioner],” she said. “So that is how I decided on this second degree program just because it is an extra step, and it sucks that I didn’t know right away. I feel like now I am a lot more sure in what I want because I had to do some trial and error. Some people just get lucky and kind of pick.”

Many of the nurses around her completed a second-degree program similar to what she intends to do, Predieri said. This made her decision much easier.

“It is not really as uncommon as people think,” she said. “I used to kind of feel like, ‘Man, I really screwed up. Nobody else probably does this,’ but it happens to a lot of people.”

She said students should always pursue fields they have a passion for.

“Because really at the end of the day, I believe that passion is what drives excellence,” Predieri said.  “To a certain degree, you need to be passionate about what you are doing to even be successful and to be happy.”

“I am really happy,” she said. “I kind of don’t think I would have done it any other way.”

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