Degree By Me

Photo by Duane Zehr

By Matt Hawkins
June 1, 2015

Kaydra Bui ’16 knew she wanted to work with language even though no formal academic program quite fit her interests. Research led her to Bradley’s interdisciplinary major program, which allowed her to create a rigorous personalized degree that will give her a strong foundation for a range of careers.

Bui started with thoughts of pre-med or pre-law undergraduate studies, but she recognized the tug of a linguistics-style program. After consulting several faculty, she developed a rigorous 71 credit-hour major that incorporated English, communication and philosophy.

“Rhetoric should be interdisciplinary because there’s language in every field,” she said. “When you make rhetorical connections in psychology, sociology and communication, there’s a unique way to synthesize it across disciplines. This lets me look at language across those disciplines.”

The study of language interested her because of its use in community to empower or oppress groups of people.

“Language always fascinated me because it bonds people together,” she said. “It’s a tool that’s constantly evolving — just look at youth culture.”

The individualized plan is the first step to a career teaching rhetoric or linguistics in a university setting. If that plan changes, she recognized her studies would be versatile enough for law school or other options. 

Bui assembled her degree with help from English professor Dr. Seth Katz and communication professor Dr. Ed Lamoureux. Katz’s linguistics background and Lamoureux’s rhetoric knowledge made them ideal advisors.

“It was cool to find people who had studied a lot of disciplines and could explain the field to me,” she said. “They were the perfect duo for my studies. I’m lucky to find advisors who really knew about my interests.”

Katz, in particular, provided inspiration for Bui’s appreciation of language.

“He’s a model of who I aspire to be — an effective user of language in any professional context, a language connoisseur,” she said. “He has a passion for language that opens your mind and gets you excited about it.”

As she developed the IMP degree, Bui’s plans caught the attention of friends in the English department. Thus, the “honorary English major” hopes to be an academic trendsetter for students whose interests didn’t quite fit a standardized program.

“It would be cool to make this a possibility for someone like me,” she said. “My friends occasionally say they wish they would have thought of this route before. It would be neat if I could be a template for someone of similar interests.”