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Two Paths, One University

Daniel Martens came to UC to practice piano and study physics. Recent course changes will help him get two degrees in five years.

Date: 11/18/2009
By: Kim Burdett
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Melanie Cannon
When Daniel Martens was applying to colleges, he didn’t want to choose between his two passions: physics and jazz piano.

So when the Pickerington, Ohio, native got in touch with University of Cincinnati’s Department of Physics and learned that he could in fact study both as a double major, he applied, auditioned, and got in.

Now Martens is a second-year student who takes classes in both McMicken College of Arts and Sciences (A&S) and College-Conservatory of Music (CCM). It will take him five years because of the lack of overlapping general education requirements, but he will come out with a bachelor of science in physics and a bachelor of music in piano.

Daniel Martens.
Sophomore Daniel Martens is a double major in A&S and CCM.

“One of the challenges is obviously time,” says Martens, who also balances his time by being a resident advisor for Siddall Hall and playing in a local band called Waiting on Ben. “But I enjoy the fact that when I get sick of practicing piano, I can jump straight into my physics coursework because it’s a nice break away that isn’t a waste of time.”

He has no time to waste, after all. Along with taking 20 credit hours per quarter and some summer coursework, the honors student has to keep up his grades to guarantee his Cincinnatus scholarship (he earned a 3.9 grade point average his freshman year).

“I wouldn’t recommend it for just anybody, but Dan was very determined,” says Margaret Hanson, physics undergraduate director, who helped Martens when he first contacted UC about a possible dual degree. “He came in strong, and he is very efficient with a strong work ethic.”

What also helps, Hanson says, is McMicken’s recent decrease in core requirements that went into effect fall quarter. With fewer A&S requirements, Hanson knew Martens would be able to double on the coursework and be at UC only an extra year.

Currently there are 214 undergraduate majors in A&S that are double majors, with another 36 enrolled in both McMicken and another college. The college is encouraging all undergraduates to take on another major, minor or certificate to take advantage of the 24 free credit hours still needed to graduate.

“I’m covering all the bases right now,” Martens says. “Financially, it’s good to have a backup because I know going out as a solo artist for piano in this economy might be difficult.”

And because he enjoyed his physics class so much in high school, he thought it’d be a great degree to pursue at the university level as well.

While he doesn’t really know what he wants to do after graduation, right now he is content playing the various pieces that make up his life, he says.

“I have a few different sections in my life, and I’m just trying to make them all fit,” Martens says. “And I love where I’m at. I’m just really enjoying myself right now.”

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