Jennifer Shaheen attends the University of Pittsburgh as a junior, where she is pursuing a Bachelors of Art degree in Media and Professional Communication while also studying Film, Italian, and Public and Professional Writing. From a young age, Jennifer has held an interest in both the film world and the media, which she hopes in the future to work in a career that combines the two. Aside from her studies, Jennifer is a Pitt Pathfinder—an ambassador of the University of Pittsburgh when recruiting prospective students. She is also a member of the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, and an associate worker for the Limited Brands Company, Victoria’s Secret.
Ever since I was in 5th grade I wanted to be a Dietician. I had my life planned out—I was going to work for Women’s Health or Shape magazine. I came to the University of Pittsburgh as a Pre-Dietetics major and began my first semester filled with math and sciences. It took two weeks of chemistry to realize I didn’t want a future in dietetics anymore. I went through a series of mini life crises until I finally called my mom and told her I wanted to change my major. Looking back, I don’t know how I ever wanted that career in the first place. I liked reading health magazines because I had a passion for design, writing, and photography. I was always such a creative person; health was just hobby for me, and nothing more.
Though some general education requirements can be a bit annoying to deal with, they do have a purpose, and they can be a lot of fun! If I didn’t take a random film course, I would have never have found my passion in life—media and film. I official declared at the end of my sophomore year that I was a Media and Profession Communication major, Film Studies minor, Italian Studies minor, and obtaining a certificate in Public and Professional Writing. Odd combination—I know—but I couldn’t be happier with where I am. My future plans now involve graduate school somewhere in New York City for Film Studies. If you would’ve told me in coming to college as a freshman that I would end up watching Art House Swedish films from the 1940s, keeping blogs and twitter feeds for classes, and writing grants for a non-profit film company, I would have told you that you were crazy.
Since dropping the Pre-Dietetics major I’ve had more flexibility in my schedule, which is allowing me to study abroad in Florence for the entirety of the Spring 2015 semester. I’m taking Italian cinema, travel journalism, studio painting, and cooking over there, and that never would have been possible if I continued to be miserable in something I didn’t love to do.
That being said, my advice would be to go into college with an open mind. If you’ve always wanted to be a doctor but found out that political science and law school is your future—roll with it. You started in marketing and finance but really want to be a physical therapist—go with it. It’s amazing how hard you work when you’re passionate about the field you’re going into. College is not a time to hate where you are, you’re supposed to gain something from what you learn. No matter what you want to change from and want to change into, it’s going to be scary. Change is scary, but change can also be wonderful. You are allowed to try different paths in order to find which one you truly belong on.
If I could talk to my younger self and explain how I feel about where I’m at in life and where I’m going, I think she’d be impressed. The one thing I would tell her is that it’s okay to be lost and not know what you want to do. It’s okay to explore careers, to try classes and internships and hate it, because you can also to try and end up loving something new.