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American Studies at Miami University

Student Profile: Samantha Chyette (Class of 2012)

Samantha Chyette photo

  • junior double major in American studies and psychology
  • from Birmingham, MI

American Studies Major

"I took my first American Studies course in my first semester at Miami, in order fulfill my Miami Plan. At first, I thought American Studies was like American history, but it turned out to be completely different. The courses were very interesting and raised my curiosity about events that happened during my life and historical events that still impact the way we now live.

"American Studies provided a context for understanding the meaning and significance behind things that I studied in high school or heard about in the news, but really did not fully appreciate. That's when things started to 'click' and I knew that I had to take more courses.

"In my American Studies courses, I examined topics such as the role the media, commercials and products play in shaping what we think about social issues, values and ourselves, and how those messages affect people of different ages, genders, races and ethnic backgrounds. In those courses, I also developed skills in critical analysis, research and writing, which I can apply in other courses and in dealing with everyday life. Another interesting part of American Studies is that it really helps you understand the world we live in, from fashion to politics and from news headlines to lyrics in popular music."

Teachers & Classroom Environment

"Learning takes a lot of energy, from both instructors and students. The American Studies instructors that have taught my courses have all been enthusiastic about teaching and their course materials. This creates a positive classroom environment and seems to energize the students to want to participate in classroom activities and discussions, which gets more views and opinions into the mix. I never felt hesitant about speaking up in class or asking a question because the instructors always encourage students to share their perspectives."

American Studies & Psychology

"When I first came to Miami I was a psychology major. After taking a few American Studies courses, I realized that American Studies and psychology are intertwined in many interesting ways. In our American Studies courses, we are encouraged to take an interdisciplinary approach in thinking about and analyzing American culture. To me, it's interesting to analyze American culture from a psychological perspective, and to think about how the good and not-so-good aspects of our American culture shape and affect the American psyche and mental health. It's interesting to see how students from different majors and academic backgrounds approach issues differently."

[February 2011]


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