The University of Massachusetts Amherst
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Meet the Major: Exploratory Track in Natural Sciences

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University of Massachusetts student Matthew on a beach with text reading: Meet the Major: Exploratory Track in Natural Sciences

Like many other first-year students, Matthew Bird wasn’t sure what he wanted to do with his life when he came to college. He knew he had a strong passion for science, and that he wanted to be able to explore the options within the field, making the exploratory track in natural sciences a perfect match. The exploratory tracks are designed for students coming into UMass Amherst who are exploring options before choosing a major. Soon after entering college, Matthew realized that medicine was his calling, and picked up the pre-med track as well. He explains his current position as “knowing what I want to do, I just don’t know the path on how I am going to get there.”

As part of the exploratory track, Matthew has examined several different aspects of science through his classes during his first semester, including: social psychology, kinesiology and biology. He has also formed an excellent relationship with his advisor, and loves that they on a first name basis, even at such a large school like UMass Amherst. Working with his advisor, Matthew has narrowed down his decisions for majors to either a biology major or a bachelor's degree with an individual concentration (BDIC) with some mixture of psychology, biology and public health. Thanks to the help of his advisor, Matthew believes he’s on track to make his decision by his sophomore year. 

During his second semester of first year, Matthew is focusing on classes required for the pre-med track, including: biology, chemistry, calculus, and english. He sees an improvement in his grades as he is getting better adjusted to college-style learning. He describes all of his professors as “extremely friendly and understanding people”. Despite having lots of students, Matthew says they’re always really flexible and willing to find time to meet with him if he’s looking for help, even if it’s beyond their office hours. 

Outside of classes, Matthew is a research assistant for a neuroscience sleep lab where they study the relationship between sleep and memory in aging adults. Matthew is also a brother in the Sigma Phi Epsilon fraternity. As someone interested in the pre-med track, he’s a member of the Pre-Medical Society, which aims to provide students interested in pursuing medical school with resources, connections, and opportunities. To stay active, Matthew has joined Surf Club and Spikeball Club, two of our many sports clubs here on campus

While he works to narrow his major, Matthew hasn’t lost sight of his long term goals. After graduating, Matthew plans on taking a time to get some clinical experience and conduct research, before applying to medical school.


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