Finding Myself in a Major Way

by Rasheedah Na’Allah

Choosing a college major can be intimidating, until it’s fulfilling.

Telling some of my family that I wanted to be a sociology major for college was a chore. Their first comment was, “What can you learn from sociology that I can’t learn from just turning on the news?” At the time, I did not fully know the answer to that question. All my life, I have been scared of the thought of my future and the possibility of failure. Adults often told me it was okay not to know my future path, but their tone showed disapproval when my response was, “I’m not sure.” As I declared my sociology major, I couldn’t help but feel eagerness and unease. What if I was going in the wrong track? What if my family was right and sociology wasn’t the wise choice for me?

As I attended my first week of university, I couldn’t help but keep a smile on my face. From just one week of classes in Sociology 105, I felt like I had more clarity on the subject. Sociology studies some of the hot topics of today such as race, gender, sexuality, and more—but it does so in a depth people do not realize. Sociology gathers facts, asks questions about theoretical ideas, and assesses the morality of what “should” and “shouldn’t” be. 

Looking at what “should” and “shouldn’t” be was a constant for me growing up. Living in a suburb at a majority white school as a Black Hijabi brought many bouts of internal questioning. Should I let my peers stereotype me? Should it be ok for students of color to be called racial slurs on a regular basis? I was normally standing up for myself and other marginalized communities and I was still denigrated. I “shouldn’t” be denigrated. I “should” be respected.

Entering college classes to see many people who looked like me was a culture shock. For the first time in my life, I had challenging and enlightening conversations on a major I didn’t know could be so complex. On the last day of my first week, I stayed after class to ask my sociology professor a question. Not only did I get my question answered, but I got to have a genuine conversation with her about our love for sociology and our upbringings—something I have never been able to do. 

When I was finally able to help my family understand my love for sociology, they themselves became more intrigued. We researched it together and bonded over the similarities in the subject and their daily jobs. I could not help but beam. Not only did they come to accept my major, but I also fell more in love with it. Trusting in the process and learning from the experiences around me made me find pure happiness. It made me find myself.

About Rasheedah Na’Allah

Rasheedah Na’Allah is a senior at Dunlap High School in Peoria, Illinois. She is the youngest of her 3 siblings and enjoys the benefits of being the “baby of the house.” Her Nigerian and Muslim upbringing has led her to be resilient and outspoken in her beliefs. Rasheedah is a dedicated student who is a part of the National Honors Society and loves to be active in her community. She planned a diversity assembly at her school in front of the entire student body, formed an extensive research project on racial disparities and inequities in the education system, and has been appointed into the Peoria County Board’s Racial Justice and Equity Commission. She has also served as Dunlap’s representative to engage and network with young state leaders attending the 2020 Illinois Senator Youth Leadership Council. Rasheedah is the founder of her school’s Muslim Student Association, leads in foreign language club, and is a strong member of the color guard team. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering and regularly posts on her cooking page through social media. She started her own book club and enjoys reading and discussing books by BIPOC authors. She hopes to pursue Business, Health, and Wellness during her college years and is extremely honored to write for the Giving Voice Initiative.

Art by Aryanne Westfall

Ary Westfall is a junior Interactive Media major and Theatre Arts minor attending Bradley University. She is the social media manager for DAT, creates webcomics in her free time, and enjoys all forms of sequential art. Ary hopes to break into the comic world or find work in pre-production art for television.