Interdisciplinary Studies Student Spotlight with Tanner Passafiume

Photo of Tanner standing in Jordan Hare Stadium during a game.

Meet Interdisciplinary Studies student Tanner Passafiume. He hopes to become a pediatrician and then possibly work in the political arena, which is why he customized his degree to focus on biology and political science. Learn more about the Louisville, KY, native in our Q & A, below. 

Would you please tell us about yourself? 

I am from Louisville, KY and I had no connection to Auburn University growing up. As I started looking at colleges, I started to consider it more. I ultimately decided to attend Auburn after my mom told me about her best friend from high school who had come to Auburn and loved it. Upon visiting the campus, I knew this was where I belong. I decided to go into IDSC to combine my interests in two pretty different fields that I had come to enjoy – biology and political science – while continuing to prepare myself for medical school.

How would you describe your experience at Auburn? 

My Auburn experience has been great. Through my fraternity, Tau Kappa Epsilon, I have been able to be involved with St. Jude, which has impacted my life immensely. As philanthropy chairman I helped my chapter raise nearly $30,000 for St. Jude and had the opportunity to attend the Collegiate Leadership Seminar hosted by St. Jude in the summer of 2017. Because of my work with St. Jude, I was also able to work on the Interfraternity Council organizing philanthropic events for the entire Greek community. I am also active in the Student Government Association and hold a seat on the Schools Council as a representative within the College of Liberal Arts.

What has been your favorite class so far (or favorite professor?) And why?

My favorite class so far at Auburn would have to be the Honors Organismal Biology class I took second semester of freshman year. It was taught by Dr. Djibo Zanzot, and it was flipped classroom, and really focused on group work, which I felt developed skills other classes didn’t. In addition to the way the class was structured, Dr. Zanzot was very good at keeping the class involved and interested.

What do you want to do when you graduate from Auburn?

After Auburn I plan to gain admittance into medical school, hopefully at the University of Louisville or University of Alabama-Birmingham. I hope to become a pediatrician or pediatric oncologist, and after practicing for 25 or 30 years, foray into politics, whether that be running for office or lobbying for causes that I care about.

Do you think your education and experiences in Interdisciplinary Studies have prepared you for success?  

I think that Interdisciplinary Studies has prepared me for success in my career in a way that many people with medical school aspirations are not. IDSC allowed me to take all of the classes I would have taken to be ready for medical school while also pursuing a secondary interest in political science that will hopefully lead to a second career. But the biggest reason that IDSC has prepared me is that it has helped nurture my ability to see problems from a multitude of perspectives and know that the best solution may not be the one that comes from conventional thinking or research.

Is there any advice/wisdom you’d like to share with new students? 

What I would say to any student is to focus on school and learn how to study well (if you don’t already know). Knowing how I learn has helped me study for every class I’ve taken at Auburn. Also, get involved. If you enjoyed something in high school or enjoy it now, or even if it just sounds intriguing, go for it. Auburn is so much more than just a place to take classes and getting involved will allow you to connect and feel even more a part of the Auburn family.

Last Updated: April 09, 2019