John Coggin describes what it was like to create his own major and how he became involved with the Department of Communication. Interview on May 30, 2012. (3:41)


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Well, I accidentally signed up for a communication major. 00:00:00.000 - 00:00:03.409
Growing up I did not have an imaginary friend like most people have imaginary friends. 00:00:03.409 - 00:00:10.065
I had an imaginary television station, John TV-I was very original- 00:00:10.065 - 00:00:14.505
so I had always had this sort of fascination with television and television production. 00:00:14.505 - 00:00:19.801
Then, you can tell I was a very discerning high school student, I looked at the list of majors in the application 00:00:19.801 - 00:00:26.637
and I thought it was: Check something you're interested in. 00:00:26.637 - 00:00:30.587
So I saw "Communication Media: Film and TV Production" and thought, cool! You can major in television? 00:00:30.587 - 00:00:35.876
So I checked that box thinking, okay, I want to learn more about this. 00:00:35.876 - 00:00:39.430
Well I get my acceptance letter in the mail saying, "Congratulations, John, you've been accepted into the College of Humanities and Social Sciences as a communication major." 00:00:39.430 - 00:00:47.578
I thought: What? I didn't mean to do this. 00:00:47.578 - 00:00:49.962
But I sort of stuck with it. The freshman semester they put you into the introductory communication class. 00:00:49.962 - 00:00:56.572
I had Ed Funkhouser as my professor for that, who is the voice of the Wolfpack at the NC State football games 00:00:56.572 - 00:01:03.182
and who has been my mentor ever since, 00:01:03.182 - 00:01:05.892
and I fell in love with it and I knew that's what I wanted to do for my major, 00:01:05.892 - 00:01:10.528
because if I had gone into something like the First Year College 00:01:10.528 - 00:01:15.136
I never would have been able to settle on my major because I'm interested in so many things, 00:01:15.136 - 00:01:19.750
but with communication the way we communicate has an impact on so many different disciplines and areas of life. 00:01:19.750 - 00:01:27.372
Whether it's in science or whether it's in politics or whether it's in art, 00:01:27.372 - 00:01:32.269
being able to communicate with each other has a great impact on how successful we are in our endeavors, 00:01:32.269 - 00:01:40.019
and having such a broad focus, but also such an important one, was just wonderful for me in my college education and future career. 00:01:40.019 - 00:01:51.594
So I chose my communication major with a media concentration and I stuck with that, 00:01:51.594 - 00:01:56.052
and then I had all this extra time. I entered as a sophomore 00:01:56.052 - 00:02:01.510
so I could take some classes on the side and I was trying to decide what to do with that time 00:02:01.510 - 00:02:07.141
to coalesce it into some sort of program. 00:02:07.141 - 00:02:09.280
I went into my advisor one day 00:02:09.280 - 00:02:12.503
and said I want to do three minors. I want to do biology, history, and religious studies. 00:02:12.503 - 00:02:19.688
Her name's Sandy Stallings and she's one of the heads of the interdisciplinary studies program 00:02:19.688 - 00:02:26.821
as well as a communication advisor, 00:02:26.821 - 00:02:29.053
so she said, "Have you ever thought about putting those together into your own major?" 00:02:29.053 - 00:02:32.824
So I said, "No, but I'll think about it." 00:02:32.824 - 00:02:35.494
So I designed a major studying science and religion in American society, 00:02:35.494 - 00:02:40.356
how they interact, how they clash, 00:02:40.356 - 00:02:42.914
and the sort of sociological implications of that. 00:02:42.914 - 00:02:46.137
That was an incredible experience because I got to design my major. 00:02:46.137 - 00:02:50.164
I got to take courses-. The whole point is to build bridges between colleges at NC State. 00:02:50.164 - 00:02:54.960
So often we create these silos of academia where science has to talk with science 00:02:54.960 - 00:03:00.199
and CALS has to talk with CALS and CHASS has to talk with CHASS, 00:03:00.199 - 00:03:04.850
but to create a program that's explicitly designed to cross those silos 00:03:04.850 - 00:03:11.340
and break them down, so to speak, was a really great experience at State 00:03:11.340 - 00:03:15.538
because I was able to take biology and anthropology and genetics courses 00:03:15.538 - 00:03:20.471
and pair them with history and sociology 00:03:20.471 - 00:03:24.893
and think about how they interacted and how they interplayed, so I thought that ended up being a very good choice for my major. 00:03:24.893 - 00:03:33.370

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