By Justin Steeves, Intern in Coker University's Office of Marketing and Communications
Cameron Flotow is a Coker University graduate who earned a BA degree in Interdisciplinary Studies combining courses in computer science, communications, and mathematics. He is now working at Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School in Darlington, South Carolina, as a computer science teacher.
You may be asking yourself what is interdisciplinary studies, since it isn’t a traditional major. Interdisciplinary studies is an ideal academic opportunity for students who are interested in going beyond the confines of a conventional major. Rather than following a more structured, traditional educational pathway, interdisciplinary studies majors work with faculty advisors to develop a customized series of courses—including research, independent study, and in-seat classes—that best aligns with their goals, talents, and vision for the future. All interdisciplinary studies students begin their majors with an introductory course in interdisciplinary studies, followed by a selection of lower- and upper-level courses in their chosen fields. They will also participate in an internship and complete a capstone project.
Cameron feels interdisciplinary studies made a lot of sense to him as a student. He started out at Coker as a computer science major, but he knew he would need additional knowledge in other fields, specifically mathematics and communications as his goal was to develop apps for a living. Cameron wanted an edge so that's when he decided to combine CS, math, and communications so that way he knew how to program (CS), could do it efficiently(math), and could better understand diverse audiences and be able to speak to them well (communications). In the near future, Cameron will be launching his first application and will have Dr. Klimek and the interdisciplinary studies program to thank for getting him there.
Cameron is currently working as the computer science teacher at Trinity-Byrnes Collegiate School in Darlington, South Carolina. He enjoys the job a great deal and regularly uses the skills that he developed in IS; understanding how different fields work together has allowed him to be a better teacher and communicator.
During his time at Coker, Cameron knew he was going to need a computer science background to teach computer science, that was a given, but also knowing more than just computer science gave him the ability to quickly adapt to the changing demands of an academic environment. Also, because the other fields he chose to study were highly related, he would have a broader knowledge and can assist students in understanding any CS topic, even those at the edges of computer science.
In taking the IS classes Cameron learned a lot about the way each field has a lens through which they analyze problems and see the world. Through his IS classes, he learned to think about thinking, which was an alien topic to him at the start. Metacognition is specifically that thinking about thinking and was important to Cameron when it comes to his career since he can better understand why some students have alternative answers to problems. Cameron enjoys the fact that he gets to analyze a problem from more than one perspective and has allowed him to become a better problem solver, which in turn has allowed him to help his students become better problem solvers themselves.
To Cameron, holding a degree in Interdisciplinary Studies seemed to be helpful to him when it came to the job market. Since he chose to broadly observe and study his field and those adjacent to it that it helped him be seen as a better candidate for teaching career. He feels like he's a more flexible teacher because of having knowledge in more than one discipline. Cameron had to help create a yearbook for the school as the yearbook advisor and believes that if he had only studied CS he would have had a more difficult time adapting. They created a beautiful looking yearbook last year which Cameron is very proud of and was one of the best yearbooks his school has created.