Why Sometimes the Class You Least Want to Take Turns Into the Best Class Ever

I’ m terrible at science.

I took a college-prep bio course in high school and while I usually got away with Bs, my teacher always wondered why I was in the class. Maybe the problem was that one of our big projects was to put together a bug collection and I would rather stick myself with needles than impale a bug on a board. But I digress …

At CNU we all have to fulfill certain required liberal learning core classes. These include a couple of math classes, a second-level language class, and at least one science class and lab. Needle-less to say, I wasn’t particularly excited about the possibility of dealing with a science class again, but “you gotta do what you have to do before you can do what you wanna do.”

So, as usual before the semester began when I would take a science class, I went around to my friends to ask them what they recommended. Astronomy and botany were the two science classes most recommended, and as a nerdy “Star Wars” fan I opted to try astronomy so I could learn about Death Stars and stuff.

… Alas astronomy filled up before I was able to register, so I was stuck with botany. The study of plants. AKA: Snorefest … or so I thought.

The botany class I took turned into the most fascinating and enjoyable class I have ever taken outside of my major. Dr. Lauren Ruane made a subject I thought was as dry as a cactus actually the complete opposite (in order to continue the metaphor I could say “as wet as the inside of a Baobab,” which is a tree that stores immense amounts of water in its trunk. Think Rafiki’s house from “The Lion King.”)

I learned so many things about plants that blew me away. The under-appreciation of fungi in medicine, the deadly poisons found in some of the most common plants, and the history of plant-based narcotics presented an endless source of wonder for someone like me who had barely grazed the surface of the science world.

Did you know that pigs can be trained to sniff out truffles (a kind of underground mushroom that is worth an absurd amount of money)?

Did you know that heroin and other narcotics were originally made to try to assist people with morphine addictions?

Did you know that there is a single fungus that covers acres, making it the largest living thing on Earth?


When you come to CNU, don’t let your preconceived notions about certain subjects convince you that there is nothing good to come from them. Even today I find myself spewing out facts I learned in botany class because it was just so interesting. I credit Dr. Ruane for making the subject so interesting. As much as I hate to admit it, I never would have even considered the class if not for the liberal learning core.

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