Wide Open Spaces

Wide Open Spaces

M. HarassWhy did Meghan Harrass choose Humanistic Studies, a major unique to Saint Mary’s College? “Honestly,” she says, “because I couldn’t choose!” The interdisciplinary major appeals to many students because it lets them explore several areas at once—including history, literature, philosophy, and art. “I loved being able to see subjects intertwined and I loved being encouraged to approach traditional subjects in non-traditional ways,” adds Meghan, a 2003 graduate.

Like her studies, Meghan’s life has taken a non-traditional path in the four years since graduation. Right after college, she spent nine months teaching English in Strasbourg, France. “It was great,” she says, “because it allowed me to use my French language skills in a city with a fantastic history that is truly unique—not quite French, but not quite German either.”

Next, she moved to Ireland to pursue a master’s in international studies at the University of Limerick. It was familiar ground, since she’d spent her sophomore year studying in the Saint Mary’s program in Maynooth, Ireland. The choice again provided a rich menu of topics and people to learn about. “I studied international politics in an international environment, as my classmates were from varied backgrounds: Irish, American, Welsh, Norwegian, British, just to name a few,” says Meghan of graduate school. “My dissertation explored how identity affects the difference of approaches toward security and environmental policy in the European Union and the United States.”

Humanistic Studies graduates pursue a wide variety of careers, but they share a tendency to make thoughtful choices. Today, Meghan works as a payroll administrator with the multinational company Ceridian. She says her major helped prepare her for the job: “It taught me the importance of looking at the big picture … and it also taught me to approach problems and assess them in as unbiased a way as possible.”

A year ago, Meghan married an Irishman whom she met, once upon a time, during her sophomore year abroad. The couple lives in Morroe, County Limerick, on the west coast of Ireland. It sounds like a storybook ending, but if the past is any indication, Meghan has more chapters to write. “If one thing has been a constant in the years since graduation, it’s been that life hasn't been boring,” she says. “As for the future, I'd like to continue that tradition!”