Master of Arts in Liberal Studies

Roger Martin-Pressman

Roger Martin-Pressman
This program asks,
"What do you really
want to study?"

Roger grew up in Bethesda, Maryland, and graduated from Skidmore College in 2002 with a BS in Exercise Science. Following graduation, Roger was invited to work collaboratively with Professor Paul Arciero conducting several research studies using human subjects. These studies investigated the complex relationships among diet, exercise, mood, metabolism, and life style.

When I graduated from college, I felt like I was about to lock myself down. I had to find a nine-to-five job so I could buy a nice car, cover my health insurance, get some credit cards, make my cell phone payments. And I figured it was either that or escape—travel anywhere I could get to.

The master's program came up for me when my advisor suggested that I go further with the research we were doing together. Basically, we're looking at how people's overall health responds to changes in the way they exercise and eat. And it's been fascinating to see how many different ways you can find answers to this kind of question—by checking blood lipid levels, or caloric expenditure, or muscle strength, or body composition.

The research I've been doing has made me used to looking for problems that I can measure—for answers that come in numbers. In my MALS program I'm trying to balance this data-driven approach with a slower kind of thinking. I want to get the facts about exactly what people do—but I always want to explore the psychological and cultural reasons behind those behaviors. Here, I get the chance to pursue my interests in many directions at once.

This program asks, "What do you really want to study? What do you really care about?" It's made me realize that these were questions I haven't been thinking about enough. I think that coming to this program has helped me figure out that I don't have to make that black-and-white choice between working hard and doing what I love—that there are ways that I can make the things I love part of what I do.