July 15, 2015
By Elaine Jeon ’17
Pursuing two majors at Amherst has become increasingly common. Perhaps this is thanks to the flexibility of open curriculum, or perhaps it’s because the College attracts academically ambitious students. A small group of students take this trend even further, graduating as triple majors. In the past five graduating classes, there have been one to eight triple majors each year. The record in the past three and half decades was set by the class of 1994, in which 16 students graduated with three majors each.
Here are just three of the remarkably driven students who recently completed or are currently pursuing triple majors on campus.
Daniel Ang ’15 was part of the Schupf Scholars Program, a research program open to exceptionally promising incoming first-years at Amherst. He graduated with majors in physics, music and math, with a GPA in the top 10 percent of his class. He also received summa and magna cum laude designations for his, senior music and physics theses, which were supported by Schupf funding.
Ang served as the principal cellist of the Amherst Symphony Orchestra, participated in the College’s chamber music program, played in a jazz combo and performed in church ensemble groups and various other music projects. He won a composition competition in 2013, earning the opportunity to travel to Vienna the following year.
Ang took five classes every semester, beginning in his first-year spring, in order to experience a wide range of courses.
“I managed my time by just being disciplined about everything, trying my best to complete assignments and readings ahead of time,” Ang said. “My usual target was to have at least one buffer day before I submitted something. I constantly had to fight the urge to procrastinate.”
Ang originally planned on being a physics and music double major, but added the math major to “train my quantitative analytical and problem-solving skills further, and signal to graduate school admissions committees that I was serious in my technical preparation for graduate school,” he explained.
It worked. After resting back home in Jakarta this summer, Ang will enter a Ph.D. program in physics at Harvard.
Ali Rohde ’16 exudes charisma through her involvement in student government and the club she co-founded called Women in STEM and Finance. She is also pursuing three majors: math, economics and English.
Rohde quickly declared economics and math majors after falling in love with both subjects during her first year at Amherst. When junior year rolled around, she realized she had become increasingly interested in English after taking an English course every semester to balance her quantitative workload.
“Adding the [English] major felt like the obvious choice, and I loved feeling that I was taking advantage of the humanities at Amherst, which are arguably Amherst’s specialty,” Rohde said. “I think that the Amherst liberal arts environment encourages students to cultivate interests in both the humanities and quantitative fields.”
“I decided to choose different types of majors in part because I’m not sure what kind of career I’ll pursue,” she explained. “However, I know I will utilize the writing and problem-solving skills I’ve learned at Amherst, regardless of my career choice.”
Lexi Ligon ’17 hopes to freely structure her senior thesis based on her interests in film and videography. In order to accomplish what she envisions, Ligon decided to pursue an independent major on top of her music and anthropology majors.
Her initial interest stemmed from her final project for a music class called “Pioneer Valley Soundscapes,” in which she was assigned to create a documentary. Ligon enjoyed making the documentary so much that she became determined to incorporate videography into her senior thesis on the absence of people of color in Western classical orchestras.
The anthropology department accepts films only as supplementary materials to written theses, so Ligon turned to the College’s independent major program. An independent major is built with classes that the student has already taken or will take. “Each class has to serve some purpose toward the major, and the student has to justify why this unique combination of classes should count as a major,” Ligon explained.
Outside of the classroom, Ligon devotes the majority of her time to music, playing viola in the Amherst Symphony Orchestra and her string quartet or singing in the college’s Concert Choir. Also, she is an avid member of the women’s club soccer team and the Outing Club.
“I thrive the most when my life is crazy and hectic,” she said. “I think it’s definitely going to be hard to do all of this and be successful, but I think I’ll be able to manage it with the support of my friends and advisers.”