By Liz McMahon
University of Baltimore student Amber Conklin, 20, is a junior. And a senior. At the same time. How? Not without a fight.
Conklin, of Harford County, Maryland, is the first UB student to pursue a dual degree. Unlike a double major, in which a student earns one undergraduate degree with two focuses, a dual degree is actually two separate undergraduate degrees, earned concurrently.
“I fought the school for a year to let me do this,” Conklin says, with a hint of frustration. UB has no policy on obtaining a dual degree, so she had to pressure the administration consistently to make her academic goals a reality.
Conklin decided to push for the dual degree because she is interested in multiple disciplines, and felt that just one major wasn’t enough of a challenge. “It wasn’t good enough,” she says emphatically of her interdisciplinary studies major. She is working toward both a BA in interdisciplinary studies, focusing on business, history and psychology, and a separate BA in psychology.
“I’ve always loved learning,” Conklin shares with a smile. “Many people go to school to further [their] career paths, but that’s not how I think it should be.” Instead, Conklin views education as a chance to pursue as much knowledge as possible. She studies business to improve her communication skills, history so she “knows what she’s talking about,” and psychology to understand issues present in our present day world.
Conklin takes five to six classes a semester, and will have finished both of her degrees in five years time. She also works as a tutor and academic coach, is an active member of psychology
honors society Psi Chi, and participates in UB’s History Club. She is exploring graduate school options, and hopes to intern at the FBI next summer.
UB is currently working on policy to make dual degrees an accessible option for all students. In the meantime, if you’re interested, you might just have to pull an Amber and fight for it.