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Degree Program Rationale

Holistic Approach


This is the Degree Program Rationale that I submitted to the Academic Portfolio Review Committee in 2013. I designed my own degree and a course, called Holistic Design. Below are the courses I took.

  • Abnormal Psychology

  • Anthropology and Globalization

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

  • Brain and Behavior

  • Contemporary Environmental Issues

  • Cultural Anthropology

  • Ecology, Adaptation and Sustainable Development

  • Families A Global Perspective

  • Health Psychology

  • Holistic Design

  • Learning Styles

  • Plant Ecology

  • The Development of Gender Identity

  • Theories of Personality

  • Photographic Vision

  • Intro to Psychology

Degree Program Rationale

     In 2002 I inherited a small plant nursery in North Miami Florida. I was taught some basic knowledge of plants, potting procedure, fertilizing, propagating, pest control by a guy from Yugoslavia, who was a horticulturist. I was living on an acre piece of property at the time and 1/3 of it was plants. I decided to do some landscape designing on my house and realized I had a talent for that also. I grew up around plants and have had small vegetable gardens for many years. I got a job in 2004 with a Design firm in Miami and began to learn the business. They also had a 10 acre plant nursery that I worked at from time to time adding to my skill set.

     In 2005 I moved to a 5 acre property in Lake Worth Florida and relocated my nursery. The home I was renting was had a small barn, which gave me the idea to start a sustainable farm with the intention of planting herbs and vegetables. I had 3 goats and 4 chickens and access to cow manure from the landlords cows in the pasture next door. At that time I was working for a landscape design company called Earth & Turf located in Boca Raton Florida. My background in Architectural drawing from high school made making landscape plans very easy for me. I was employed with the company for 1 1/2 years, at which time the economy started taking a downturn and I was let go. My work can be seen here. After that I started my own company called The Passion Vine. The business lasted a few years, unfortunately around that time the stock market crashed and I lost many accounts. I decided to pack up and move to Vermont.

     While in Vermont I worked on two small farms and a 10 acre blueberry farm learning some new techniques and continuing on my path. After being in Vermont for two months I realized I could not sustain my living without money and there were no jobs in Vermont that were monetarily satisfying. I decided to go back to New York where I knew I could make money.  I looked for work for a few months and could not find anything. It was then that I decided to go to school. I had enrolled in a course from Cornell Extension for Landscape Management, after taking the class I made the decision to go to school for Horticulture.

     In January 2010 I was enrolled in Farmingdale State College for Horticulture. I was 39 at the time. My studies at Farmingdale were very enjoyable and I met many interesting people in the field. The professors were all very knowledgeable and down to earth. I was happy to see how many young kids were in the program, who really appreciated plants. I graduated in May 2012. While enrolled at Farmingdale I took Intro to Psychology, Intro to Sociology, Anthropology, Computer Graphics/CAD, Landscape Design I & II as electives. I felt that the human development courses and design would be a good start in directing my studies towards my other passions. I have always been involved in designing. As a kid I used to design cars. I won awards in high school for Architectural Drawing. I also enjoy learning about people and cultures. The plan I have laid out for my studies here at Empire State College is continuing with human development course, as well as ecology, and art & design.

     I chose Empire State College because I planned to do some traveling and study culture first hand after graduating. In September 2012 I arrived in the Philippines. I am learning new things about cultures and the environment and also learning many new plant species.  With the ability to continue my studies and travel to new places around the world, Empire State was a great alternative and I was even happier that it was a SUNY school, it made transferring credits simple. I decided to get a BS in Interdisciplinary Studies, which was another plus in choosing ESC. By learning about cultures, the human mind, art, and the environment, my plan is to be able to design , not only ecologically friendly environments but psychologically friendly ones also. I feel that many of today's stressors can be eliminated if people have an inviting, positive environment to come home to or work in. Creating enjoyable spaces to work and live, that are also eco friendly, is the direction we need to go in order to be fully sustainable of mind & body, at the same time being sustainable within our environment.

"Needless to say, the implications for architecture are enormous. As Weiner explains, “Environmental psychology explores the parameters and variables that might alter one's mood, behavior, productivity, effectiveness, and attitude. ”Knowledge from the field enables architects to shape solutions for clients and users with foreseeable, measurable results. For commercial projects, this can lead to improvements in employee productivity. For retail projects, environmental psychology might mean higher sales. In a healthcare environment, this could mean accelerating patient recovery times." (Moses, 2012)

     My plan for my future studies is to get my masters degree in Sustainable Design. I have already chosen an online program at the University of Florida. After finishing my masters I plan to get a PhD in Environmental Psychology. As you can see there is a clear plan from early on and has continuity throughout all my degrees. Plants/Ecology, Psychology/ Anthropology, Sociology and Art and Design.

     It has taken me some time to really figure out what I want to do when I grow up but having interests in so many fields made it difficult. My life experiences during my twenties and thirties has given me knowledge in many different fields also. For 15 years I was a copier technician and computer technician. I also owned a Off Lease re-marketing company for three years which I started in the beginning of 2000. I designed a database for tracking leasing companies assets and introduced it at the Equipment Leasing Associations show in 2002, in Arizona,  to companies like City Bank, and GE Capital. My technical background together with the skills and knowledge I am acquiring in college will give me a solid foundation for my future endeavors. This is why the Interdisciplinary degree works so well for me. With my diverse background, I can tailor my degree accordingly, enhancing my knowledge in multiple fields. I am looking forward to the next three semesters here at ESC and I am thankful that such a program exists or I may not have been able to continue with school until after my travels.



Moses, N. (2012, December 14). The American Institute of Architects - Environmental Psychology: Building with Feeling, Practicing Architecture. Retrieved May 28, 2013, from