Kristina Silva: The Exploratory Major was the Right Choice for Me

By Kristina Silva, Class of '16

I came to Xavier undecided on my major, my interests and my career. I was also entirely unaware that these four years were going to be the best laugh-cry fest of my life.

Some people have an idea what they want to do when they arrive at college, so they choose their majors and minors accordingly. 

I came to Xavier undecided, from an all-girls school in Cleveland, with no idea of what I wanted to study or do with my life. 

In the first two years, you will want to do everything—and you will. You will join a million clubs on Club Day, make a bunch of friends, eat your weight in the Caf, scream your head off at basketball games and see places and things you have never experienced before.

You will also struggle a little bit. You will pull all-nighters, lose some friends—and some days you will cry, wishing you were home. It is not the end of the world. I know. I shed my fair share of tears over the past four years.

 Even though I declared my major as a freshman, it still took a while to realize that I made the right choice. I was still exploring and learning about my major and myself.

But on those nights you stay up until 3:00 a.m. studying—or binge-watching “Grey’s Anatomy”—you will find that you have friends there to support and struggle with you all the way to graduation. You will find classes you truly enjoy and some classes you don’t, and that is okay.

The best part about college is that you can change your mind. You can change your mind about your major with a quick trip to your advisor. You can change your mind about the classes you sign up for. You can change your mind about most anything. Nothing is final.

College is the best time to figure out who you are as a person and what you want to be doing. I declared Advertising as my major during the second semester of my first year along with a few other minors that I later dropped. Even though I declared my major as a freshman, it still took a while to realize that I made the right choice. I was still exploring and learning about my major and myself. 

In the classroom, I came to know my professors and they came to know me. Some professors even let you call them by their first names. The idea that college is a big and scary place filled with so many strangers began to fade. Xavier is the right amount of small to make it feel like home. You get to know a lot of people in the classroom, on the field and in passing on the academic mall.

But Xavier is also the right amount of big to ensure that you are meeting new people every year. Starting out, I was unaware that I would become a part of a family—the Communication Arts family.

From learning about communication and media with Dr. Gwyneth Mellinger, creating my first ad campaigns with Dr. Wendy Maxian, constructing surveys and exploring research methods with Dr. Thomas Wagner, becoming literate in media with Dr. Randy Patnode, learning about the depths of the internet and interning for the Communication Arts Department with Dr. Ashley Hinck, and pitching my first advertising campaigns to community partners with Dr. Leslie Rasmussen—this family has taught me more than I could have ever imagined about communication as a profession.

But it also taught me about life.

Kristina Silva, left, and Cecilia Nonis.

Looking back on all of these experiences with fellow Advertising major and friend Cecilia Nonis, we can say that we learned a lot. We became more aware and more certain about our choices. We learned:

• To get to know our professors and classmates because they would become our support system. Start building these relationships right away. They are one of the best things about college.

• There is never a wrong answer in class. Professors just want to get you to think, so say what you are thinking. Do not be intimidated.

• To work in groups. We organized group meetings with our classmates, brainstormed ideas and pulled all-nighters for presentations. We know we’ll need this group work experience in our careers after college. Take group work seriously. This won’t be the last time you’ll have to complete a project with other people.

• That to do well often means just doing the work. To excel in classes, projects and internships, even when assignments seem tedious, all you have to do is do your work. Do the reading, do the assignments and be open to learning. You’ll be surprised at how big of a difference those three things make.

• To articulate what our major is all about to students and family members who have never taken a communication course before. We learned that every major requires hard work, time and dedication to be successful.

• To relax. When you’re in the middle of a busy week, take one thing at a time and know that you are okay.

All of these things shaped us into the people we are today—confident, experienced and ready to take on the world. These experiences have taught us that it's never too late to start over and start something new. It's never too late to make new friends. It's never too late to find out who you are because you will change along the way to be exactly who you are supposed to be.