Class Year
2018
Program
Bachelor of Interdisciplinary Studies

BIS gives students, no matter what their backgrounds, the opportunity to pursue their interests.
Amanda Downing
“One of the things I like about the BIS program,” says Amanda Downing, “is that it gives students, no matter what their backgrounds, the opportunity to pursue their interests.” For Downing, who will graduate in May 2018, one of those interests is the visual arts. Because she lives in Charlottesville, Downing has been able to take three semesters of sculpture classes. She was one of six students in Professor William Bennett’s advanced sculpture class to place her work in Charlottesville’s Main Street Market, a collection of busy restaurants, specialty shops, and grocers.
 
As a BIS student, Downing has also had the opportunity to deepen her interest in the challenges that people who have been incarcerated face when reentering society. “I work at the circulation desk at the public library,” she says. “I see people every day who are struggling to make their transition back into society.” She found the course she took from Professor Alan Rasmussen on the criminal justice system to be particularly useful in helping her understand the obstacles they face. “Professor Rasmussen really knows the field and is also great at engaging students,” she says.
 
Downing continues her praise for BIS faculty. Professor Julia May, her capstone mentor, has been helping Downing narrow down her topic. “She’s both very organized and creative in enabling me to clarify my thinking on this issue,” Downing says.
 
Another plus for Downing of the BIS program is the ability to pursue her degree while working full time. Students can take all the courses needed for the BIS degree online. “The online classes have been particularly helpful in building my courses around my schedule,” she says.
 
See related UVA Today articles:
Six UVA Sculptors Leave their Marks in Market
Class of 2018: BIS Program Steers Librarian Down New Artistic Paths