Alumni Spotlight

The DIY Major: Design Your Own Future

The Interdisciplinary Studies degrees are unlike any other degree program at Appalachian State University. Offering both Bachelor of Arts anbd Bachelor of Science options, the IDS degree allows students design their own major, integrating concepts and methods from multiple disciplines. Our courses, our degree programs, and our minors reflect the fact that often the most compelling social, cultural, and intellectual questions are bigger than any one disciplinary box.

IDS Alum Spotlight: Leah Donatelli

Leah Donatelli

Why did you choose to do an IDS degree?

I originally started my time at ASU as an interior design major. I quickly learned I wanted to integrate my skill set with design into the current occupation I held at the time as a wedding planner. As I was torn in different directions with where I felt I belonged in my career, a professor from the interior design department introduced the IDS program to me. I felt a deep desire to work a "sense of place." I felt strongly how aesthetics and environment affect our lives. Through IDS I was able to pair a passion for how we "tick" as human beings (studies in psychology), with the ways our spaces affect our psyche (concepts of design) and then discover how I could utilize this knowledge to create unique experiences and settings in the business world through events.

What are you doing now?

Currently, I work as an events manager with The Collider, a climate science innovation center in Asheville, North Carolina focused on creating market-driven climate solutions. Pictured here is a photo from our first fundraising event, "Catalyze The Collider", a celebration of our first year in operation and a kick-start to our 2017 fundraising campaign. The array of events I am involved in is wide. We plan educational events, partner with local nonprofits through co-sponsorship to create educational events for the community, coordinate our own fundraising and publicity efforts through receptions and networking events, plan climate conferences for those in the climate services industry, and lead a large number of smaller events exclusively for those in the climate services sector of business.

How did your self-designed degree help you get there?

My self-designed degree created a worthwhile integrated skill set to prepare me for this job. My focus in psychology has proven invaluable during the creation of impactful events for large numbers. From budgeting for, to the marketing of each event, my business studies prepared me to work with an organization focused on market-driven climate solutions. As a startup and nonprofit, each team player plays a vital role in understanding many business principals of keeping our organization afloat. A background in design continues to be fruitful time and time again as I coordinate the physical space for different events.

Where do you want to go next?

There are many opportunities to grow within The Collider within each area of my interdisciplinary concentrations. I look forward to new challenges as the scope of our events grow.