Undergraduate with five majors excels at every level

After coming into the University with more than 50 credits from her high school dual enrollment program, senior Katerina Fernandez will graduate with a combined five majors in the arts and humanities. Photo: Joshua Prezant/University of Miami
By Caroline Val

After coming into the University with more than 50 credits from her high school dual enrollment program, senior Katerina Fernandez will graduate with a combined five majors in the arts and humanities. Photo: Joshua Prezant/University of Miami

Undergraduate with five majors excels at every level

By Caroline Val
After coming to the University of Miami with more than 50 credits from her high school dual enrollment program, senior Katerina Fernandez is set to graduate this spring with a combined five majors in the arts and humanities.

Spanish, political science, classics, theatre, and philosophy.  

While each are compelling topics on their own, rarely are college students able to load their coursework with each subject, let alone major in more than two to three. However, for Katerina Fernandez, she has had a little more freedom in her schedule. 

Fernandez began her first year at the University of Miami with 59 credits after participating in her high school’s dual enrollment program through Florida Gulf Coast University. But though this meant she had a chance to graduate from the University early, she decided that she wanted to do something a little different. 

“I started thinking, and I was really sad because I kind of felt like I missed out on part of my high school,” Fernandez said.  

“I didn’t get to go to pep rallies as much, and I didn’t get to hang out with my friends during our lunch break and stuff like that because I’ve just constantly been focusing on school,” she shared. “So, it was kind of a decision that I made for myself to stay for all four years and graduate at the same time as my friends to get that real college experience.” 

When first applying to universities, Fernandez’s family had wanted her to consider staying close to home. They compromised, saying she could consider applying to only one other school of her choosing.  

Though she originally wanted to go out-of-state, she decided to apply in-state instead given the onset of COVID-19.

In her reconsideration for a Florida institution, she took into account her desire to be in a metropolitan area, her Cuban American heritage, and her interest in a world-class education.  

Each of these factors made her set her eyes on the University of Miami.  

“Miami is just so diverse. There's every single type of person here. There are so many connections to be made. So that's kind of why I ended up deciding on Miami,” said Fernandez. “It was my one shot and I made it, and I did it. It was a little scary, but I’m happy it all worked out.”

After being awarded a full scholarship to attend the University, Fernandez decided to take advantage of her studies, adding more studies to her impressive roster as she grew an interest in each subject.  

As each of the majors are rooted in the arts and humanities, Fernandez found a surprising amount of intersection across each of her subjects. Whether it was learning about the origins of some of the most important philosophical theories in a classics course or dissecting more of Latin American political history in her Spanish classes, her majors often overlapped in more ways than one might initially perceive.  

Alongside her busy academic schedule, Fernandez also worked as a career coach for the Toppel Career Center and in the Jerry Herman Ring Theatre on campus. Though she admits it can be challenging to manage her priorities, some who know her best would argue that she also makes an effort to help those closest to her in any way possible. 

“She's very selfless despite having five majors and working two jobs and being constantly busy,” said Nathan Fitzpatrick, a senior and Fernandez’s friend. “At the same time, she manages to find time for people. She's like that with everyone, so it's really cool to watch. I don't know how she does it,” he added.  

Michiko Skinner, her supervisor at the Ring Theatre and associate professor in the Department of Theatre Arts, is one of her mentors at the University. 

“She is so effortless. She plans ahead for everything, so she never frets about over-working like other students,” said Skinner. “While Katerina archives mountains like a superhero, she is fun and pleasant to be around. That’s what I admire and enjoy the most about Katerina.” 

As far as what Fernandez plans to do with her impressive roster of majors, she notes that law school is definitely in her sight. Given the complex critical thinking skills and arguments she has had to develop with her unique academic combination, she feels it is a natural progression for her future. 

“I’ve got to start on my law school applications and find the letters of recommendation and write all the essays. So yeah, I want to go. Ideally, I really think I would like to go into international law with a focus on human rights,” she said. 

Altogether, Fernandez feels more than well-prepared for her future, but is also content with knowing that she has taken advantage of her full four years at the U. Reflecting on her journey, Fitzpatrick counts her tenacity and drive as important factors in allowing her to make it this far.  

“She’s a hard worker, almost to a fault. Anytime she wants to try and do something, she will do it,” Fitzpatrick said. There’s no doubt in my mind she’ll continue to go as far as she wants to go in life.”