Ithaca College Will Make You Ready
With a vibrant community, professors who inspire, and the hands-on experience you need to dive into your field with confidence.
Ithaca College offers more than 100 academic programs. When Dan Leibel listed the ones that attracted him, he came up with 18.
“I wasn’t undecided,” he said. “I just had too many things I wanted to do. I needed to expand my boundaries and see what I really liked.”
Because the Exploratory Program allows students to take courses in any of IC’s five schools before declaring a major, Dan had the chance to investigate his varied interests.
“The Exploratory Program relieved my anxiety about not knowing what to study because it let me pick classes earlier, and that kept me on track to graduate. Being an exploratory student at IC is way different from being undeclared somewhere else.”
During his first year—as he took classes in biology, politics, literature, philosophy, and general psychology in addition to the required freshman seminar—Dan discovered another Exploratory Program feature: a dedicated advising staff.
“At the end of my first semester, I was leaning toward politics but still thinking of speech pathology, so my advisor suggested two speech-path requirements: Communications Disorders and Developmental Psychology. As it turned out, those two courses fit me better than any of the others because they studied how people work. So I decided to major in psychology, which wasn’t on my original list.”
The “fit” Dan discovered led him to blend the science of the mind with human behavior. He took courses in neuroscience to gain a better understanding of the brain’s biological processes while also doing research about peoples' personality characteristics.
As part of the psychology department’s Humor Research Team, Dan investigated self-reflection and humor by studying two types of people—those who enjoy being laughed at and those who fear it—to identify personality traits that help predict the differences between the two groups.
“Humor’s something we use in all ranges of our social interactions, but there are people who don’t like it and who don’t function well around it. That made me realize there’s so much out there we don’t know, especially about the way people operate.”
As a senior at IC, Dan was accepted into a Ph.D. program in human services psychology at the University of Maryland to pursue a dual concentration in behavioral medicine and clinical psychology.
“I want to find out all the things that people don’t yet know about themselves—about the way they talk to each other, the way they think, the way they behave. I want to keep exploring,” Dan says.
“I describe Ithaca as a ‘choose your own adventure’ experience,” says Alex Moore ’07. His own Ithaca College adventure has taken a winding and rewarding path.
When Alex decided to add a writing minor to his politics major, his father suggested (as fathers do) that a grant writing course might make him more employable. Alex took his father’s advice and during the course, he read a book about nonprofit organizations. Its author, Robert Egger, was president of a Washington, D.C., nonprofit that helps the homeless. Alex emailed Egger, Egger emailed back, and shortly afterward Alex was on his way to intern at Egger’s organization, DC Central Kitchen, to write grant proposals.
“It’s one of those Ithaca chain reactions where you start in one place and wind up someplace very different,” Alex says. “What motivated me was the question of poverty—how does it happen and what can we do about it?”
Questions of poverty, human rights, and social justice continue to shape Alex’s career. He has completed a master’s degree, and now he’s working on his Ph.D. in political science, focusing his studies on humanitarian intervention in international relations. His goal is to become a college professor. “I want to have the kind of impact that my Ithaca professors had on me,” he says.
And just what was that impact? “Ithaca taught me the value of examining the unquestioned ground I stand on,” Alex says. “It’s social change. It’s changing the way people think. It’s asking big questions about the world and yourself.”
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