CLAS is as Diverse as its Students

So it's been a while since you've been to campus and you're wondering what things are like. As you discovered from the story on page 1, computers, the World Wide Web and the Internet have forged their way into the classroom, forcing education into the 21st century. But what about the students? Are they any different from, say, 10 or 20 years ago?

While we can't possibly document all the similarities and differences between today's students and those of a decade ago, here are some interesting stats to give you an idea of what the modern-day CLAS student is like. To begin with, CLAS is the largest college at UF with 8,977 undergraduates as of Spring 1997. That's almost one-third of the total undergraduate student body. Females slightly outnumber the males, 4,841 to 4,136, and minorities make up 24 percent of the CLAS population. The average GPA of a CLAS undergrad is an impressive 3.0, while more than 2,215 students have a 3.5 or higher. More than 250 CLAS students are National Merit Scholars.

To satisfy the interests of such a diverse student body, CLAS offers 40 bachelor's degrees and 37 minors. The biggest departments are psychology, microbiology & cell science, political science, English and history.

Larry Severy, associate dean of academic advising, believes one of the reasons so many students are attracted to the college is the quality of CLAS programs.

"CLAS has a good reputation and students realize it's one of the more difficult colleges to get into and stay in," he said. "Students like to be a part of a college that has high standards."

He also believes that a solid liberal arts and sciences education is a definite advantage in today's evolving workplace.

"A liberal arts and sciences education lends itself to flexibility. It prepares you not for content but for the process of moving forward," he said. "Whatever major students are in, they learn how to think, analyze and communicate, skills that are critical to any career."

Pre-law Student Studies Math

Elethia Bronson, a UF sophomore, is the 1996 recipient of the W. W. Massey, Sr. Scholarship. Following is an excerpt from her application essay: "Yes, I could have chosen an 'easier' program or university, for that matter. But what do we actually accomplish... if we are never faced with something that we thought was unsolvable? If we are not challenged, there is no sense of fulfillment or growth - two things that I do not want to be lacking in my undergraduate education."

One CLAS student who is enjoying and benefiting from her liberal arts education is W.W. Massey, Sr. Scholarship winner Elethia Bronson. A sophomore from Marianna, Fla., she is the first person in her family to attend the University of Florida.

What's surprising about Elethia is not that she plans to attend law school after completing her bachelor's degree. Unlike other pre-law students who are majoring in political science, history or English, Elethia is pursuing a degree in mathematics. She admits she enjoys the challenge of solving difficult math problems.

"I heard a law professor say that logic can help in preparing a case," she said. "I think math will give me the background I need to study law since it's such a disciplining subject."

When she's not studying, Elethia tutors high school students in the Upward Bound program. It gives her a chance to help students who might not otherwise get the special attention they need.

"It allows you to do something for another person and make a difference," she said. "If I can give those kids some extra help, it makes me feel great."

History, Not Biology, is the Major of this Pre-Med Student

Michael Menninger, a UF junior, is the 1996 recipient of the Dr. Peter Sones Scholarship for pre-med students pursuing a liberal arts education. He wrote in his application essay: "In my particular situation, history provides me skills and experience that I would otherwise miss in a science-dominated curriculum. Most of all, history allows me to understand and empathize with the human condition."

Michael Menninger is another good student. And like Elethia, he's taking an unusual path to meet his career goals. Instead of majoring in science, he's a pre-med student who enjoys studying history.

"I've always been interested in history," said Michael, who is also enrolled in the junior honors medical program. "I knew I had to fulfill a lot of pre-medical requirements but after talking to some professors I realized I didn't have to major in science to go into a medical field."

Michael is the recipient of the Dr. Peter Sones Scholarship, awarded each year to a pre-med student pursuing a liberal arts undergraduate degree. He believes his liberal arts education will complement his work as a physician.

"I wanted to have a diverse background," he said. "History is a very analytical field and it challenges your verbal and communicative skills."

When he's not in class, this native of Stuart, Fla., spends his time serving as the co-president of the university chapter of Habitat for Humanity and as the student liaison for the faculty chapter.

"It's neat getting people together, organizing the activities, raising the money and increasing awareness," he said. "A lot of people don't realize all the work that's involved behind the scenes. For example, before we can build houses, we need money to buy the supplies."