We Came For the Arts

Pursuing humanities at Jefferson


Alyssa Rask

From left to right: Freshmen Jeb Barker, Juliette Kim, Andrew Lam, Yoobin Kwon, and Farhan Ayaan. TJ students pursuing humanities often delve deeper into humanities-activities from middle school such as band. “Humanities classes/activities— specifically, band and TJMC — that I’ve taken at TJ have reinforced my love for that field,” junior Sophie Uy said.

Chabeli Yumang, Staff Writer

From the mandatory research projects to its name itself, Jefferson presents itself as STEM school with a STEM-focused student body. However, it has a rigorous STEM-based curriculum that can often prevent many students from pursuing the humanities. Yet many humanities-loving students enter its doors. Often, this minority actually enjoys STEM alongside humanities, but they also acknowledge Jefferson’s prowess in humanities-related activities from music to public speaking.

“One of the reasons I came to TJ was because of the humanities opportunities there are here. A stellar music program, high achieving students in art, writing, debate, lots of clubs and just an overall passionate community,” senior Atharv Gupta said.

Sometimes, students entering Jefferson for STEM edge more into the humanities because of Jefferson’s curricular and extracurricular opportunities. These humanities outlets in a STEM-based school often open people to different worldviews and future opportunities.

“TJMUN opened my perspective to different career possibilities outside of STEM and, as a result, I am now interested in pursuing a hybrid of STEM and humanitarian disciplines. I believe that I want to become an Intellectual Property Lawyer that has a focus in Computer Engineering technology. This means that I will continue to study the STEM disciplines that I am interested in while also pursuing humanities,” junior Evan Williams said.

Though some people hope to balance humanities with STEM within and beyond their time at Jefferson, there are many obstacles. For example, stringent graduation requirements such as computer science and design and technology credits often force students to forfeit a year of humanities to take a course they may not necessarily want to take nor have any use for. In addition, there still exists a lingering stigma towards humanities within the student body through stereotypes that humanities are useless or that humanities-oriented careers are poorer. Despite these barriers, many students hope for a change in the future and aim to break down the binary between humanities and STEM.

“HUM and STEM are two halves of the same whole: a well-rounded education that teaches creativity, but also reality; abstract thinking, but also concrete thinking; curiosity, communication, critical analysis, and problem-solving. Just HUM or just STEM doesn’t make sense, because they enrich different parts of one’s brain. They are also very interconnected,” freshman Rachel Lewis said.

In fact, these students hope the world understands the value of both fields working in harmony.

“The world is more than just picking one or the other, and I think that we should continue learning them simultaneously even if we focus on one,” freshman Bhaswith Suresh said.