Though it seemed that her parents’ puzzled nodding might spill over into flat-out bewilderment, the major plan submitted last month by Junior Madeline Rodriguez narrowly survived a third round of questioning by her mom and dad at brunch on Sunday.

“Look, it’s called Symbolic Systems, and the concentration is called human-computer interaction,” she assured her parents, who had majored in pre-law and pre-med before attending law and med school, and who had questioned her about her course of study twice over the phone. Madeline went on, “Marissa Meyer did SymSys, and she’s the CEO of Yahoo. And the guy who made Linkedin had that as his major too. I promise I’ll end up employed, okay?”

Over assurance that her course of study did not involve talking to computers, Rodriguez tried bravely to work past her parents’ blank stares and to explain her major’s unique blend of CS, linguistics, psych, and indecipherability.

She went on, “It’s like computer science, unless you don’t want it to be. Then it’s like cognitive science, sort of, unless you make it more about philosophy. Just read Gödel, Escher, Bach and it’ll all make sense.”

In the end, while her description surely didn’t offer much clarity, Madeline’s parents chose to trust the Stanford brand and let the issue pass.

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