Self-Designed Major Spotlight with Sam Gieg

It can be hard picking a major, so to give some insight on what it is like to self-design a major, we asked Sam Gieg ’16 (above) some questions about his experience as a self-designed Sports Medicine major. Sam is a graduate of Lutheran High School South in Fenton, Missouri.

Why did you pick this major?

When I came to Westminster, I wanted a major that would satisfy my interests and fit who I am as a person and a student.  With my athletic background and desire to enter the medical field, I thought that designing a major that would incorporate both of these elements would be the best option.  I approached faculty members in Biology and Exercise Science about my idea and was able to choose courses that I wanted to take.  The end product was a Sports Medicine major that would prepare me for medical school, as well as satisfy my personal interests.

What do you plan to do after graduating?

After graduation, I plan to attend medical school.  I am currently in the process of completing applications to various schools and hope to have the opportunity to attend the University of Missouri School of Medicine.  At this point in time, I think that I would like to complete a residency program in Orthopedic Surgery and specialize in Sports Medicine.  This may change in the future after experiencing other medical specialties.  I would also love the opportunity to practice medicine in a small town for part of my career.

How has Westminster (professors and courses) prepared you to succeed in this career?

I have had some wonderful experiences in my time at Westminster.  By nature, self-designed majors are interdisciplinary.  This has allowed me to look at my classes in unique ways.  I can bring elements of Biochemistry into Exercise Science courses and vice versa.  In addition to this, I am also a part of the Honors Program on campus.  Through this program, I have been able to interact with students from various backgrounds and areas of study.  Listening to their ideas and the way that they think about certain issues and topics discussed in class has really helped me broaden my horizons.  The critical thinking skills that I have gleaned through my major and the Honors Program will help me tremendously in my future career.

Who is your favorite professor and why?

I don’t think that I can choose just one.  I have had some fantastic professors in various disciplines that have helped me along the way.  Dr. Holliday is my advisor and has given me advice on everything from what courses to take to how to study for the MCAT.  Dr. Kenney-Hunt and Dr. Mayne have each taught several Biology classes that I really enjoyed, such as Vertebrate Biology and Biochemistry.  I have learned incredible things from Dr. Zumwalt and Dr. Hansert in my various chemistry courses.  Without Dr. Miller’s contributions I would not have been successful in my Exercise Science courses.  Dr. LaVine was instrumental in helping me set up an internship and pushing me to do independent research.  I really have had some wonderful professors who have all had a positive impact on my education.

How have your internships helped you?

This past summer I had the opportunity to complete an internship in sports medicine at the University of Missouri.  During my time there, I worked with the football team and their athletic trainers and physicians.  Much of what I did was geared toward understanding the prevention, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries.  I have also worked with the athletic trainers at Westminster through the work-study program.  This has given me the opportunity to understand the responsibilities of sports medicine professionals.  These experiences have also provided me with a way to apply the knowledge that I have gained in the classroom and have inspired me to continue pursuing a career in this field.

Learn more about creating a self-designed major at Westminster College.


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