By Tyler Steelman (BLS Class of 2012)
Facing the completion of my Associates in Arts in English, I was quite undecided on how I would continue my college career after leaving the community college I entered after high school. Thanks to her wisdom and insight into my interests and character, my college adviser there introduced me to the BLS program at UNCG.
I have always had a deep interest in the fields described as humanities: literature, art, history, philosophy, and religion. Thus, the BLS program was a great way to formally study subjects I have always loved. The online learning environment was also a major factor in my choosing the BLS program. Having completed my associate’s degree online, I had grown comfortable with the freedom and flexibility of online courses, so I knew I would be successful in the BLS program. Furthermore, UNCG’s low tuition rates make it quite an affordable way to further your education.
While my focus in the program was on literature, to my delight I have been able to delve into the other branches of the humanities as well. One of my favorite courses during my time in the program was Magic, Media, and Popular Imagination with Dr. Emily Edwards. In this course we examined the effect the supernatural has had on popular media. We watched several films with supernatural themes which we discussed in discussion forums. For the final project we created a visual narrative blog, where we used photographs and narration to create a documentary or creative piece. It was interesting to learn how profound an influence the occult has had on popular media, and the visual narrative project was an enjoyable experience. To view my visual narrative project, click here.
In my time in the BLS program, I have been fortunate to also take three courses with Dr. Carrie Levesque. In American Motherhood, I studied how the role of motherhood is perceived by our society and the different ethnicities and sub-cultures that it contains. For that course I created a blog examining how motherhood is represented in popular media. I also took Religious Resistance to Political Power, where I examined how various religions responded to oppressive measures by governments. In Women, War, and Terror, we read three memoirs written by women during times of war, violence, and social upheaval. Dr. Levesque is a very insightful instructor who provides a warm and informal atmosphere to discuss these often challenging and distressing issues.
Finally, I have also been able to explore the world of drama and theater with Professor Marc Williams. In Big Plays, Big Ideas, I read numerous plays, analyzing how they portrayed various issues pertaining to society and the human condition. In Eye Appeal, I learned how spectacle (costuming, lighting, set design, music, etc.) adds to or affects dramatic productions. I wrote a review of a theatrical performance I attended, detailing how spectacle was utilized. Professor Williams offers wonderful critiques on assignments that not only advise you on how to be a better student in that course, but also on how to be a better writer.
I am not the typical BLS student, as the program is geared to working adults and I am a full-time student who just graduated high school four years ago. Thus, I do not have as much life experience as most students in the program. However, the BLS program has in a sense opened up the world for me. I have learned more about the various cultures, beliefs, conflicts, and arts that characterize humanity in the two years I have been in the BLS program than I believe most people my age or perhaps any age have. I am confident that the insights about the human condition I have acquired in the BLS program will be invaluable in whatever direction life takes me. I will be graduating with honors in May, and I am hoping to continue my liberal arts education at UNCG next fall with the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies program. If you want a quality liberal arts education that not only gives you freedom and flexibility but also enriches the way you see humanity and the world, I highly recommend looking into the BLS program at UNCG.