Engineering a Leap of Faith

I came into Scripps with the Class of 2008, but I won’t be walking with them next May. Instead, I’ll be in New York completing my fourth year of the 3-2 Engineering Program, at Columbia University.

The 3-2 Engineering Program at Scripps has always been a bear to explain. But here goes: The program in engineering was designed for women who want to pursue a technical major in engineering and still want to experience a liberal arts education. In high school, I remember thinking that I had to choose between the two. So I chose the sciences. I applied to schools like Johns Hopkins University and Rochester Institute of Technology.

However, my high school English teacher urged me to apply to Scripps College. At first, it seemed strange to apply to a liberal arts school when I knew that I wanted to pursue a technical major. She told me that Scripps offered a program that allows students to pursue a career in engineering while obtaining the breadth and exposure of a liberal arts education. This combined-degree program in engineering offered by Scripps collaborates with a number of engineering institutions, such as USC, Washington University in St. Louis, Columbia, Rensselaer, and Boston University.

So, am I graduating from Scripps or not? Yes, eventually. I have just completed three years at Scripps, where I satisfied the normal core requirements, competencies in writing and language, and general education. In addition, I also completed four mathematics courses, six science courses and a computer science course for engineers at Joint Science, and three engineering courses at Harvey Mudd. The semesters got hectic, since I was taking at least five courses at a time. I will finish my last two years of the program at Columbia University, and I will graduate with a dual bachelor’s degree: a BA from Scripps College and a BS from Columbia University. I will have the opportunity to “walk” at both schools in May 2009.

The past three years at Scripps have been a great experience. I arrived on campus in the fall of 2004 as one of a handful of first years who knew exactly what she wanted to do—well, almost exactly. I took a leap of faith to enroll in this program in hopes I would still feel passionate about engineering five years down the line. My peers admired me for having a set plan, but I felt anxious sometimes and thought, “What if things don’t work out?” All I could do was go forward and see where the program takes me.

Fortunately, my passion for engineering never faltered. While I look forward to more of the engineering curriculum when I go to Columbia, I can say that I’m definitely grounded by the humanities courses at Scripps.

I have a solid liberal arts base, and I hope to be “a more complete and true engineer”—as a current student in the combined engineering program at Columbia called herself. The 3-2 Engineering Program is giving me the best of both worlds. I feel fortunate to have spent three years on a beautiful campus in Claremont getting my liberal arts education and to study engineering for two more years in the hustle and bustle of a big city. “I took a leap of faith to enroll in this program in hopes I would still feel passionate about engineering five years down the line.”