Undecided but not unexcited

August 28, 2015

Don’t have a major? Student Elizabeth Andrews advises, ‘Find a spark and follow it'

To all the other college students struggling to find a major, Elizabeth “Liz” Andrews has some advice: explore and get involved.

Those strategies worked for her. Two years ago, Andrews came to Johnson County Community College with only a vague idea of her strengths and interests. She knew she wanted to help people and was passionate to make a difference. The specifics, though, were hard to pinpoint.

She also liked words. Should she study journalism? Law? Maybe become an English teacher? It sounded fine, but it just didn’t feel right.

“Every student who comes into college is nervous about being undecided. That was me two years ago – undecided, scared and confused on where to start,” Andrews said.

“My advice to every college student is to pick classes that interest you, and start from there. Then get involved, and use every resource available to you at your college. Find programs, clubs, organizations. Expand your knowledge,” she said.

Pick something that tests you

Andrews grew up in Tonganoxie, a “shy, small-town country girl” by her own assessment. At Tonganoxie High School, she participated in art club and student council, but she wasn’t an extremely involved student.

When she came to JCCC, she summoned the courage to change. “I decided enough was enough, and I let my genuine personality come out. Everything exploded from there,” she said. “I found out while at JCCC that I have a natural gift for public speaking. I used to discourage myself from it due to nervousness and the fear of judgment from others.”

She joined JCCC Model United Nations, where students speak in front of a large number of diverse people about world issues. In the back of her mind was the advice she received from her parents. “They said, ‘Pick something you believe will test you,’” Andrews said.

The people I met in Model U.N. were already very active in clubs and organizations, Andrews said, and they invited her to come to meetings. She began to collect memberships and really plug into the campus community.

“I've always known there was a passionate fire inside me for more knowledge, and the need to expand myself personally, professionally and academically in college. I kindled the fire by becoming involved at school. You meet new people and explore avenues you never knew existed." Andrews explained.

Use the college’s resources

Andrews also visited the Career Development Center (CDC), located on the second floor of the Student Center. "I used to sit in there for hours when I had free time and I felt lost and confused where to go next. I would sit down and take tests, read and work on building my professional outlook."

There, she took two assessments to help her self-realization: the Discover Your Strengths Workshop and the Choices Workshop.

“In the strengths workshop, I discovered that I had people oriented strengths. My number-one strength was empathy,” she said.

In the Discover Your Strengths workshop, free to enrolled students, an assessment provides students with their top five strengths and students explore the significance of these strengths and how they can build on them to achieve greater success.

With her strengths in mind, she began looking at her college classes differently. Her favorite class – political science – morphed into her new major.

Of that one “poli sci” class, Andrews said: “It changed everything I was going to do.”

“I’ve always wanted to help people, especially with women’s issues. Now I am a political science major with a women’s studies emphasis,” she said.

Andrews has been accepted to Future Women in Government, a leadership program that mentors women interested in becoming future civic leaders. She plans to transfer to the University of Kansas to study political science and gender studies.


What Liz did

     Liz Andrews spent a lot of time at the Career Development Center, taking assessments (or “tests”) to help her find her life’s path. “In a class I took at JCCC, Interpersonal Communication, I learned that everyone has an invisible self-concept wall and as you grow, people write on your wall. When I took tests in the CDC, it presented me with an unbiased way to look at myself from a new slate and who I wasn't allowing myself to see because of what others had written on my personal self-concept wall. “

   At JCCC, she:

  • Participated in Mid-West Model United Nations in St. Louis, Mo (2014, 2015)
  • Participated in National Model United Nations in New York City (2014, 2015)
  • Joined the honor society, Phi Theta Kappa, and the student senate
  • Completed the Cavalier Leadership Development Program with distinction
  • Published in the Mind’s Eye Student Literary Magazine
  • Worked as a student activities ambassador
Learned her Clifton Strengths Finder Top 5 (Empathy, Input, Individualization, Intellection, Learner) and her Meyers-Briggs type (INFJ)