The "I Love" Project — by Grace Martin
A catalyst for my decision to attend The University of Alabama to study family financial planning was my interaction with students and faculty in the College of Human Environmental Sciences (CHES). I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to major in, but the College offered diverse options with one common key: developing a skill within an industry and using it to interact with and help others.
I knew I wanted a career that would enable me to impact people, and every CHES major does that. These majors all take a science, such as nutrition, design and finances, and look at the industry associated with the science from the perspective of consumers. So students learn to use the technical skills they develop and to understand the human need that the industry serves. How does this diet affect how a child grows? How does the style of the dress make a woman feel? What financial goals do families value?
It was the CHES community that compelled me to enroll in the University and to stay, even when I got homesick. As an 18-year-old, I had lived in Dallas, Texas, my whole life, attended the same school for K-12, and was comfortable in a smaller community.
The University of Alabama campus seemed dauntingly large and foreign at first, but the community within CHES and my major department made all the difference. During my four years at the University, I have built relationships with faculty, advisers and classmates. By the time I was a senior and in all major-specific courses, I knew everyone in my classes, including the professors. It was comforting to start a new semester knowing I’d be greeted by familiar faces.
Consumer Sciences specifically assigns a lot of group work, so I got to build connections with classmates, some of whom became my friends outside class. We worked together on campus, studied for tests together, and now some of us are studying for the CFP post-graduation together.
Without a doubt, campus connections begin with the advisers. My freshman year, my adviser introduced me to other students who would be my classmates throughout the years. My adviser also became a mentor for me. At CHES and the Consumer Sciences department, my adviser knows all the students with whom she interacts, and she creates a personal plan for the students’ academic success, specific to their needs.
I love how my department is dedicated to my academic success and accommodates every student’s individual needs. I love how my major looks at finances from the perspective of families’ long-term goals. I love how my major’s Capstone class showed me how to integrate everything I’ve learned in a practical way. I love that my major is registered with the CFP Board, and the program qualifies you to sit for the CFP post-graduation. But what I love most is the tight-knit community I found within CHES.
[Editor’s Note: Martin is a member of the University Scholars program in consumer sciences, which allows exceptional students to dual-enroll in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.]