If you’re not necessarily sure that the major you’ve chosen is going to relate to your future career path, it’ll be comforting to know that plenty of famous and notable politicians have gone through the same dilemma. Here is a compilation of majors---other than the expected fields of political science, law or economics--that well-known politicians have studied in the past.
1. Herbert Hoover - Geology
The 31st President of the United States definitely did not get his political start in college. Determined to get into the newly-established Stanford University with mediocre high school grades, Hoover had barely passed his entrance exam. However, when he was admitted, his major of choice was geology. This lead him to become a professional mining engineer and take ownership of profitable Burmese Silver Mines. After traveling so often to survey mines and expand his entrepreneurship skills, Hoover gained a wide understanding of the world. He became dedicated to public service and set out to fight the business cycles that harmed laborers. This gave him his start in commerce and eventually, politics. (Read more about Hoover's life and education here).
2. Jerry Brown - Classics
As the longest serving governor in California's history with two separate terms between 1975 and the present, Jerry Brown understands how to win over people of many different backgrounds and ideals. This wide understanding of California's culture may have developed from Brown's education in Classics from the University of California Berkeley. Unbeknownst to many, this major (which deals with ancient Greek and/or Roman society) can be helpful when going on to further endeavors in law, medicine and---according to Jerry Brown--politics. (More info here).
3. Mitt Romney - English
Following his term as Massachusetts' Governor from 2003-2007, Romney was the Republican Party's nominee for U.S. President in the 2012 election. His former success as a businessman and CEO made him stand out as a candidate. However, that business expertise didn't come from college. Romney actually went to Brigham Young University to study English as an undergraduate. (Source)
4. Harvey Milk - Mathematics
As the first openly gay person elected into office, Harvey Milk finally earned a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors after running four times. Milk displayed great persistence in his political endeavors, but he did not learn his persuasive speaking skills and magnetic energy from a textbook. A University of Albany alum who majored in mathematics, Milk found his passion outside of the classroom, where he participated in student government. (Read more about Milk's time at UAlbany here)
5. Kevin McCarthy - Marketing
Now a member of the U.S. House of Representatives for California, Kevin McCarthy is another politician to have shown his entrepreneurial side when he was young. A firm believer in the American dream, he started a small business at 21 to fund his college education. Studying marketing at California State University seems like the obvious next step for someone who had their own deli up and running by 21; however, after experiencing the overbearing paperwork and taxes that come with being a small business owner, McCarthy was compelled to change his path and go into public service. (More about McCarthy here)
6. Carly Fiorina - Medieval History and Philosophy
Quite possibly the most random majors on this list, medieval history and philosophy were Carly Fiorina's areas of interest during her time at Stanford University. With this education under her belt, Fiorina was able to become the CEO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) and eventually run for a Republican presidential nomination in 2016. This just goes to show that you can study whatever interests you and still find meaningful job opportunities. (Source)
7. Juanita Kidd Stout - Music
From 1988 to 1989, Juanita Kidd Stout was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. She attended Lincoln University for an undergraduate in music. However, instead of making her mark as a famous musician, Stout made history as the first African American woman elected to any standing of judgeship in the United States. This just goes to show that sometimes choosing to study the "most practical" major is over-dramatized and unnecessary in finding a good job. (Read more surprising majors here)
8. Janet Reno - Chemistry
As the Attorney General of the United States from 1993-2001, Janet Reno would be expected to have extensive knowledge about legal and diplomatic practices. However, Reno proves that having extensive knowledge in general is enough to secure a spot as one of the most powerful people in the Unites states. She attended Cornell University as a chemistry major. (Source)
9. Theodore Roosevelt - Science
Since part of being a politician is to be knowledgable about a variety of different cultures and interests, Theodore Roosevelt made sure to explore all of his passions when attending Harvard University at 18. He enrolled, originally majoring in science, but turned to history and literature during his last two years. Roosevelt's evolving interests naturally lead into his political involvement and eventual induction as the United States' 26th President. (Learn more about Roosevelt here.)
As these politicians can show you, there are invaluable skills needed by certain professions that cannot traditionally be taught. As long as you remain persistent and passionate about what you love, you too could break the educational mold and land your dream job.
Lead Image Credit: Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons