Rammell uses unusual start to direct BIS program

MINOT, N.D. – Sophia Rammell doesn’t have an ordinary journey like many professors. As director of the Bachelor of Individualized Studies, though, having an unusual start can be considered a good aspect for students who are in a similar situation with their academic careers.

“My masters is from Indiana University in Hispanic linguistics. I always really liked Spanish but I was also interested in medicine, so I started taking some classes during my masters and found out I was particularly interested in the brain. When I started my Ph.D. also at Indiana University, I did it in Hispanic linguistics but also in cognitive science,” Rammell said.

Rammell began her career at MSU in August of 2019 as an assistant professor of Spanish in the world languages department and still continues to teach Spanish. As her time at MSU grew, she learned more about the different programs at MSU and became more interested.

“Dan Conn, the director of cognitive science, asked me to join the program and I am now the coordinator of the cognitive science concentration,” she said. “I was super excited and it’s just a different perspective working with graduate students. I really enjoy getting into the research and working with students."

Now her newest role at MSU is coordinating the BIS degree for students who are interested in different areas, like herself, and essentially create their own degree in whatever they have studied.

The program is designed for students to choose two to three areas of interest and take courses that will help them learn, eventually setting them up for success in their field or specific career.

“Students will work very closely with faculty but are really choosing something that's focused on what they want their outcome to be,” she said. “We don’t want to take a student from an already-existing major that fits perfectly what they want to study, so their plan has to make sense and explain how it will help them in their future career.

“The BIS is something students plan ahead of time. They say what classes they want to take and there isn’t a major that fits their degree, so they create their own requirements. Instead of having a list of classes the department usually generates for students, they will create their own list of classes they must take to satisfy their interests.”

Rammell knows how beneficial the degree can be for students and wishes she had the same opportunity during her undergraduate career.

“I majored in Spanish, but I was taking all my pre-med classes too, so it was something that I just did on my own. I didn’t have a lot of guidance or direction; I just went through the course catalog, and I went through the website and figured out which classes I needed,” Rammell said. “I think if I had the opportunity I would’ve taken different classes, and it probably would’ve gotten me to where I wanted to be a little bit faster.

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for students to have and shows they’re motivated and already targeted on what they want to do.”

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 01/13/22   

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