UT Senate hosts Interdisciplinary Studies Week, helps students find possible majors

Kaushiki Roy

UT Senate started their Interdisciplinary Studies Week with a virtual meeting Feb. 15, where mentors and mentees were paired together for the week. 

Interdisciplinary Studies Week is a program where undeclared UT students apply to be paired with students who major in a field of their interest. The mentorship lasts one week, during which mentors take their mentees to classes and discuss the benefits of their majors. 

Rafael Sanchez, Academic Enrichment Committee co-chair, said while this program has been going on for years, the pandemic made it even more important to keep the program running. 

“I often think about, if I was a freshman coming into COVID times, would I know where I want to be?” Sanchez, a public health and urban studies junior, said. “So this year is the most important year for this program yet.” 

UT Senate made an open call for mentors, and accepted all who wished to participate, Sanchez said. Mentees filled out Google Forms detailing their information and their top three areas of interest at UT. 

“I am a first gen (student) and I started off as a biology major because it was broad,”  Sanchez said. “If I didn’t have the resources or the organizations, … I would not have switched to public health and urban studies.”

This year, the number of mentors surpassed the number of mentees, with 17 mentors and 10 mentees, Rafael said. 

Echo Nattinger, a Plan II, government and management information systems sophomore, said this is her first time as a mentor. 

“My friends recommended I do it,” Nattinger said. “I wasn’t super familiar with it, but I am passionate about a very specific area of study within government and political data science.”

Nattinger said she hopes to establish a connection with her mentee and give them enough support so they leave the program more confident in what they plan to pursue. 

“I found my college experience by just chatting with people outside of class and making connections,” Nattinger said. “But with the pandemic, we have to find new, creative ways to foster that community.”

Undeclared sophomore Ariana Juarez applied to the program as a mentee. Juarez said she chose to explore geography under the College of Liberal Arts. 

“I think this program is reassuring because it is one thing to think you want to do something and it’s another to realize what it actually looks like in person,” Juarez said.