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Biology majors experiment with ceramics class

February 28, 2014

Recently, biology majors Sophia Leoni and Nik Stephens took a ceramics class in order to further their skills as future medical professionals.
Recently, biology majors Sophia Leoni and Nik Stephens took a ceramics class in order to further their skills as future medical professionals. (Desi Danfoth/Student Voice)

Students are encouraged to try out different classes in different subjects as they start their college career at UW-River Falls, but some students are experimenting with different classes and subjects toward the end of their college years.

Rhonda Willers, an art lecturer at UWRF, has students with majors in a wide variety of subjects such as horticulture and theatre, but two students in her introduction to ceramics course this semester that have majors out of the ordinary for an art course. They were biology majors, Sophia Leoni and Nik Stephens.

“On the first day of class, I ask everyone to introduce themselves and share why they are taking the course. Both Sophie and Nik mentioned that they are biology majors,” Willers said. “Sophie was interested in the course as practice for future surgical skills, and Nik was interested in the course for skills related to future mold and model making within dentistry.”

Stephens, a senior at UWRF, believes that taking Willers’ ceramics course will benefit him in the long run with his future career path.

“I plan to be a dentist,” Stephens said. “Dentistry requires a lot of manual dexterity, just as ceramics does.”

In every profession, one must be able to develop many solutions to projects and challenges. Willers has witnessed classes like her ceramics course help students use creative exploration and mental exercise which can benefit them in the long run.

“In my experiences outside of UWRF, I have met many retired surgeons who enjoy taking ceramics workshops because it utilizes the fine motor skills they have acquired in their years of medical practice,” Willers said. “It also re-enforces and builds critical hand-eye coordination.”

Not only does taking classes like ceramics help students for what is to come in the future, it also helps them become more diverse people and gives them the opportunity to get to know new people.

“One of the benefits of attending a liberal arts based university is the emphasis on becoming a well-rounded individual in both knowledge and practice,” Willers said. “The experience of taking a course outside of one’s major area of study encourages many elements such as meeting and working with new people who might think differently than you, and exposing yourself to a new topic that might inspire another avenue of study that you hadn’t considered before.”

Whether students decide to attend dental school and enter into a field of prosthodontics or orthodontics like Stephens, or become an art lecturer at a university, Willers is a firm believer in experimenting with courses outside of your major.

“Sometimes a seemingly unrelated course can relate very strongly to your future profession. Personally, as an undergraduate student at UWRF, I began in other fields of study before becoming an art major,” Willers said. “I had taken an introductory level soil science course and the basic chemistry courses on campus and now find them both to have provided me with valuable information that I use in my professional life as both a ceramic artist and Professor on campus.”