When Kyle McQueen was in high school, he liked going under the hood of his 1996 Isuzu Trooper to diagnose the vehicle’s problems. As he immersed himself in an array of courses at Appalachian State University, he realized that his love of diagnosing things – whether human or mechanical – might be leading him toward a career in medicine.
For McQueen, who transferred to Appalachian his sophomore year, the Bachelor of Arts in Interdisciplinary Studies degree was the perfect way to explore his interests until he could connect the dots to a career path. He’s taken the MCAT exam and intends to apply to medical schools next spring.
“They take interdisciplinary studies and give you a lot of opportunity. They focus on the fact that we’re living in an interdisciplinary world,” he said of his Appalachian professors. “Employers want someone who can integrate information from a lot of sources.”
McQueen, a senior from Greenville, South Carolina, who will graduate in December, combined studies in anthropology and communication sciences and disorders. Though he was initially attracted to Appalachian for the nearby opportunities to enjoy his rock-climbing hobby, he quickly felt at home with his professors in the Department of Anthropology, who liked to dive as deeply into social theories as he did.
“I really enjoyed the cultural diversity aspect of anthropology,” he said. “I enjoyed the social and intellectual theory behind all that. I thought it would help me communicate with my patients.”
He found a kindred spirit in his advisor, Dr. Kristan Cockerill, an associate professor in the Department of Cultural, Gender and Global Studies.
One morning McQueen was scheduled to give a presentation for Cockerill’s class in Interdisciplinary Praxis. On an impulse, he decided that the best way to present the concepts was to take the class on a field trip.
“That was the best presentation I ever did,” he said. “I appreciated her openness to letting students take the wheel.”
Being open to opportunity led McQueen to take the training that would enable him to become an emergency medical technician with his roommate in the spring of 2016. He now has his EMT license and is working for Caldwell County Emergency Medical Services.
“We wanted to be more competent if anything happens anywhere,” he said. “It would be great to know what to do.”