Sydney Wood ’25 walked under the red and white balloon arch at the entrance of the Provost’s Dining Room in Curtis Hall and stepped into a celebration two years in the making.
Denison students must declare majors by the end of their sophomore year, and the university wants to make that moment feel special. It’s why the ceremonial Major Day event was created in 2023.
Wood, a member of the women’s basketball team, filled out a “My Major Is” placard within seconds of entry. She surveyed a room teeming with students who ambled through a makeshift academic bazaar filled with tables and goodies. Each table was represented by a different major and staffed with faculty members and students to answer questions about their disciplines.
Pamphlets, snacks, and giveaways were ample. Modern Languages offered candy. East Asian Studies had cookies. Computer Science handed out yellow rubber ducks.
“This is a really fun way to celebrate the process,” said Wood, who signed a banner at the Health, Exercise, and Sports Studies (HESS) table. “This is kind of the halfway point for us. We’ve made it this far, and now we can look forward to what’s coming and what could be for our futures.”
Major Day organizers, who plan to make it an annual event, were thrilled with the turnout. Amanda Ghiloni ’10, an administrative assistant in the Office of Class Deans, said more than 150 signatures were collected during the 90-minute gathering.
While sophomores were the featured class, all students were encouraged to participate. Juniors and seniors could sign the major banners retroactively. First-year students seeking more information on majors had the luxury of browsing the room to see what piqued their interest.
Nolan Felker ’25, clutching one of the yellow rubber ducks, said he arrived at Denison knowing he would major in computer science. But after taking a few courses in classical studies, he decided to major in that, too.
“I’m really interested in Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome,” Felker said. “I’ve enjoyed it so much that I’m going on a 12-day trip to Greece this summer with the Classical Studies department.”
For her part, Wood is focused on earning her degree in HESS. She’s thoroughly enjoyed her first two years at Denison and has appreciated the instruction and mentorship she’s received.
Surrounded by fellow sophomores, Wood paused to reflect on her time at Denison. She wants to get into sports administration, and she said Athletic Director Nan Carney-DeBord already has offered her good advice for achieving that goal.
Seeing students like Wood excitedly discussing their journey is at the heart of Major Day, Ghiloni said.
“We want students to feel good about making their declaration,” she said. “We believe it’s a good reason to celebrate.”