Amazing Opportunities Give Depth to Educational Experience
A “plethora of opportunities” enticed economics and marketing major Gregory J. Callanan ’07 to come to UMass Amherst from Wisconsin. He ticks off a quick list: community service learning courses, study abroad, residential academic programs, dynamic social life, fascinating classes, and exposure to broad cultural diversity. That he received one of the College of Social and Behavioral Sciences twelve Opportunity Scholarships this spring, therefore, seems particularly appropriate. Funded entirely by alumni, this award honors academically outstanding students majoring in social and behavioral sciences.
“The Opportunity Scholarship means a great deal to me,” says Callanan who also received the Curtin Marketing Department Award, the Isenberg School of Management Coviello Family Award, the William F. Field Alumni Scholarship and the department of economics Distinguished Achievement Award. “It’s an honor to be recognized, especially since I’ve come to know so many talented and deserving students in both of my majors. Financing my education has been a great concern to me. Knowing that alumni fund many of these awards truly says something about their commitment to education. I hope one day to give back as they are doing now.”
The macro- and microeconomics courses that Callanan’s marketing major required drew him to his economics major. “In both of these 300-person lectures, the professors and TAs were very engaging. I’m not a morning person, but I attended every one of my 8:00 a.m. microeconomics classes. Professor Friedman would jump around the auditorium, distribute chocolate to those who participated and use real-world examples to solidify theoretical concepts. My macroeconomics TA, apart from our weekly discussion sections, routinely emailed us articles pertaining to economics in the news, grade updates, and important concepts to review.” Callanan was amazed at how these large, somewhat intimidating lecture classes could be brought down to a manageable size. And he says the liberal-arts focus of the economics department complements his business major well. “It gives me a well-rounded perspective, and the department also offers a wide range of upper-level electives with small class sizes.”
UMass Amherst, notes Callanan, offers many valuable study abroad opportunities. In May 2005 he traveled to Donegal, Ireland, for an examination of the technical expertise and growth of the Irish economy. “We also observed the impact of political and social discord on conflict resolution,” he notes. This past fall Callanan went to Ghana with a business development and global citizenship program. “For three months preceding the program, I worked with three other students to create a 20-page booklet detailing fundamental skills in economics and marketing, and how these topics can be applied to entrepreneurial businesses,” Callanan says. “In Africa our group taught basic business skills to more than 300 high school students and 50 church participants.”
Callanan also points to his community-service learning course last semester as an amazing opportunity. As a volunteer at Turners Falls Middle School, which serves an economically depressed area of Massachusetts, Callanan assisted students with homework while discussing and examining the societal dichotomies within the U.S.
In view of these experiences, it’s not surprising that Callanan is considering a stint in the Peace Corps followed by employment in the nonprofit sector. “My aspirations for the future have definitely been formed through my experiences at UMass Amherst,” Callanan notes. “My American Economic History course, and the professor’s unique perspectives on how the formation of wealth has oppressed many factions of our society, was a real eye-opener. This past semester I studied aspects of nonprofit marketing and how philanthropic organizations can succeed in a business-oriented environment. I hope to pursue a career in this sector after graduation.”
For future students, Callanan offers some words of experience. “Join a residential learning community freshman year,” he says. “It’s a great way to meet other students while taking two classes in your dorm – and get to know your professors. They’re down-to-earth, real people and enjoy interacting with students.” He also encourages students to work hard and play hard. “There are so many opportunities to have fun outside the classroom too. Succeeding at UMass Amherst is simply finding a balance.”
July 17, 2006