Having multiple majors is not a novelty, especially at a school as rigorous as Sewanee, where students are passionate about combining their interests and passions into a field of study that aligns with future career goals. We are all accustomed to hearing about people double majoring. Still, triple majoring is a unique—and daring—approach to college academics. A junior from Odesa, Ukraine, Kamilla Haidaienko has accomplished that and many other impressive feats on campus. The Purple had the opportunity to interview her to learn about her remarkable triple major and spotlight all she’s doing on campus.
Question: Tell me a bit about yourself.
Kamilla: I’m a junior born and raised in Odesa, Ukraine, a pretty big city. I have three majors: visual arts, math, and German. I’m involved in a lot of things on campus, like crafting organizations, and since a few weeks ago, I’m now a student-athlete doing track!
Q: Cool! How did you discover Sewanee, and what made you attend?
Kamilla: It’s a very long story. The first time I came to the U.S. was two years before [entering] Sewanee. I was an exchange student in Idaho through a program called Future Leaders Exchange (FLEX). It takes students from post-Soviet countries and gets them to the U.S. to bridge cross-cultural understanding. Before that program, I had never thought about studying in the U.S., but I got into the right circle of people. After I came back home, I got into a program called Ukraine Global Scholars, which helps active and accomplished Ukrainian students get a good Western education. I found out about Sewanee through them. I had no idea what I wanted to study, so I thought it would be right to go to a small school where I would get a personalized education, and Sewanee seemed like a good school for that.
Q: How would you describe your Sewanee experience so far?
Kamilla: It’s been a blessing and a curse being at Sewanee. I love living here. At first, I was very scared. I’d never seen a forest before coming here, and I’m from a huge city where everything is flat. I was very nervous about how it would feel to be here, but I’ve found my place here. It’s been amazing to gradually learn and get to know more and more people. So it’s been great in terms of living here. Academically, it has been challenging because I have found out that I want to do something related to city building or architecture, but it’s not available here at Sewanee. I’ve been managing what Sewanee has to get closer to what I want to study.
Q: Is that why you decided to triple major?
Kamilla: In my first year, I took very random courses in almost every discipline, which worked out to cover my general education requirements. Then, I decided to do art and math, with the idea of going into architecture, fulfilling the creative and mathematical sides of the architecture discipline. Due to the war starting my freshman year, it felt kind of weird to be so far away from home at the time. I found a study abroad program for the fall semester of my sophomore year to go to Berlin, and it was a new program at Sewanee. While I was studying abroad, all my courses were about Germany or were in German, and I had already started a 300-level course freshman year. I almost had a German major by the time I came back, so I said, ‘Why not do it?’ I decided to go for it.
Q: How has being an international student influenced your major choices?
Kamilla: I’m an international student on a student visa, so eventually, unless I get a really good job, I will have to leave this country and go home to Ukraine. And what will Ukraine be in need of? Planners and architects; rebuilding would also bring some purpose into my life.
Q: What are your other interests outside of academics? What do you do for fun?
Kamilla: This year, I’ve been spending a lot of time being physically active at Fowler, which has helped my mental health more. I started my own volleyball club because I couldn’t be on the team due to knee problems. We have about 115 people in our group chat. Not everyone shows up, but people are interested in it. I’m also on the executive board for the Organization for Cross-Cultural Understanding, living in the Crafting Guild House, and on the executive board for the club. During my freshman and sophomore years, I was involved in creating the Maker Space, a University-owned space for anyone who wants to make different crafts and other items. I’m a Kappa Delta and a work-study student. This year, I work in the art building, but last year, I worked at McClurg.
Q: Do you have any words of advice you’d like to share with students thinking about taking on multiple majors?
Kamilla: Only have multiple majors if you genuinely want to. If you’re doing something you’re not passionate about, you will hate it. And plan ahead! Get your general education requirements done quickly to focus on your major requirements.
Q: In closing, where have you found support to navigate college?
Kamilla: The international students have been grounding me and helping me out. We have a really tight group. Ultimately, when you look out for others, they’ll look out for you, too. For instance, when the war started, I really appreciated the response I got from people around, be it faculty, leadership, or friends, and I just got to really appreciate that. I felt supported from the beginning. I’m glad I’m here.