Navigating STEM life at a Lib. Ed. School

Navigating STEM life at a Lib. Ed. School

Evan Arns


The Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) programs here at Whittier College offer quite a unique educational experience. The focus at a liberal arts college seems to be focused on just that, most everything besides STEM. For me, being in one of the college’s science and mathematics programs, there is a definite lack in educational relatability and applications that can be made between other students’ majors and interests. 

For example, STEM is quite specific in its studies, and, consequently, there is not  much correlating history, religion, or art that can be taught that really connects here. Now, for an English major at Whittier College, these three categories can almost be cross listed with one another in specific cases further exemplifying the difference in STEM’s relatability to most of other Whitter life. 

However, this is not to say that isolating one’s self in such a department is a bad way to go. I chose Whittier College because of its small campus and connections I would be able to make as a person rather than a number at a large public campus. I knew I wanted to go into the field of mathematics and science, and Whittier is helping me achieve that dream in its 3-2 Engineering program. Classes here are not 500 plus people for first-year entry-level physics — it is closer to about 20 people with no struggles of any class being impacted. I was able to meet with my professor in and out of class time and actually get to know who he is as a person, to find out his interests, passions, and hobbies. It adds a certain level of respect to what you are getting taught because of how you are getting taught. 

In his final year of the 3-2 Engineering program at Whitter, Derek Janoski says that his upper-level physics classes are what he enjoys most about his educational experience. “It’s great because my upper division physics course has only five people in it, and I’m able to create such a tight and close bond with my classmates. I know who they are on a more personal basis, which offers more room for ideas and creative class discussions. On top of all of that, the same principle applies to my professor, Professor Piner.” 

The science department here at Whittier might be small, but there is so much to gain from close encounters. Overall, I look at my experience in the 3-2 program for as a chance for me to grow and ultimately reflect upon later in life.