Degree: Physics BS
Job: Yoga and Meditation Instructor
"As a child, I was curious about how the world worked. I took things apart, and sometimes got them back together again," Scott says. When he matriculated at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, he wanted a major that would sate his curiosity. He took physics his first semester, and found that he really enjoyed learning how the world worked, so he chose to major in physics. "As the degree unfolded, I was increasingly challenged to think about natural phenomena both exceedingly large and vanishingly small," he says.
A Second Passion
As he progressed through his undergraduate classes, Scott also became interested in "the ongoing miracle of the human body and mind, and developed a parallel inquiry into the first-hand, subjective experience of being an embodied being." Scott says "At first, my forays into meditation and yoga were halting and superficial, though by the time I neared graduation, I was spending as much time researching body and mind through these practices as I was on my academic pursuits."
The Next "Logical" Step
"Upon graduation, I did the most logical thing...I launched a career in teaching meditation and yoga," Scott says, much to his parents' chagrin. Scott managed to open several studios, and has so far enjoyed a prosperous career sharing the activities that he fell in love with in college. Although physics may not seem relevant for a career teaching meditation and yoga, Scott's degree has been quite useful. "Every step of the way I used my physics degree, as navigating self-employment, teaching and exploring are basically variations of the theme: problem-solving. And in my experience, problem solving is the fundamental skill a physicist learns," he says. "Other than regulating attention, I think problem solving is one of the most important skills that a student can learn, and majoring in physics prepared me to solve problems quickly and efficiently."
A Second Act
Scott's physics degree has also prepared him for his second act career; at fifty years old, he matriculated in a PhD program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is researching the physiology of exercise and meditation. One of his mentors, an esteemed neurologist, told him that in psychology and neuroscience, many of the most successful students have undergrad degrees in physics. "I've found this to be true," Scott says, "as I watch those of us with degrees in physics sail through concepts and processes that leave our peers wallowing."