Madeline Howard

As an English major I feel like I’m always receiving unsolicited advice about how my degree is  ‘impractical.’  At my university, they make all journalism majors choose a second major, and after my first semester I decided that my second major would be English.  However, I originally set my sights on double majoring in politics, taking a government class during my very first semester.  I, like my critics, believed that I could never ‘waste my time’ studying English in college despite my love for the subject in high school.

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My university also required me to choose a seminar that met once a week for one of my freshman classes.  The seminar could be about any topic and didn't count towards one’s major, so I decided to pick something that was unlike the other courses I was taking.  I ended up choosing a class where we read nearly every book written by Jane Austen.  It was such an eye-opening experience for me, and I realized that I didn’t want my study of literature to end that semester.

On top of my discovery that I wanted to stick with English, my government class was also proving to be dull.  Pair this lackluster class with the results of the U.S. election, and I found myself no longer interested in pursuing a politics degree in college.  After much deliberation, I decided to set aside fears of being judged by my major and marched over to the English office to declare my studies official.

The process of reworking my course of study has made me think deeper about what I want once I graduate.  Most people say that they long for monetary success.  However, it has become clear to me that without actually enjoying the work that I’m doing, I’ll be miserable, no matter how financially successful I may be.  Sitting through that politics class three times a week was painful, but the works of Austen had my full attention each time I stepped into the room.  Then, when I got back to my dorm and had to do homework, I was always immediately drawn to the Austen seminar and consistently avoided doing my politics work.  If I showed as little interest in my actual job as I did my politics class, I'm positive that I would find myself miserable.


We're often told that pursuing our passions can be irresponsible, unless those passions lie within the financial or scientific realms.


Our society perpetuates the notion that happiness depends predominantly on how much money we possess.  We are often told that pursuing our passions can be irresponsible, unless those passions lie within the financial or scientific realms.  This is an incredibly close-minded view of life, one that I believe needs to be challenged.  Instead of encouraging people to do what they believe will make the most money, let’s encourage them to pursue a career where they’re excited to go to work every morning. With that excitement, we’ll be apt to find more ways to make a passion a source of viable income.

As bSmart women, we know that money will only get us so far in carrying out a fulfilling life.  We also know that when we're passionate about something, we'll stop at nothing in order to make those passions into a success.  Take some time to think about whether or not you’re pursuing what makes you happy, and if you're not, figure out ways to incorporate those passions back into your career.


Madeline is a student-athlete at New York University studying Journalism and English. Given her school’s location in Manhattan, Madeline loves to explore the city and document her various adventures on her blog,  You can also find her wandering around  bookstores searching for her next feminist read and sipping an iced coffee.  For a more holistic view of her creative and professional style, check out her portfolio website,


Comments (1)

  1. Angelina Eimannsberger

Totally! Pursuing an academic career in Comparative Literature, I feel really well understood by your insights, Maddie!


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