GAINESVILLE, Fla. - University of Florida student Wade Fitzgerald has been playing piano since he was 5 years old. But it's not his only passion. He's always loved nature and wild animals.
"Steve Irwin was my idol!" he explained.
Wade finished high school with good grades and a strong desire to pursue both biology and music. So when colleges came calling, the choice was simple.
"Florida is unique in that they kind of allow you to not have to choose between one or the other," he said.
The University of Florida is the only institution accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music to offer a Bachelor of Music combined with another field.
"Most other schools, it's a lot more difficult to major in music but still pursue your other interests as well. They kind of want you to be all-in on music," continued Wade.
The director of music admissions, Mutlu Citim-Kepic, says the program produces more well-rounded students. "You are juggling a lot of things, so it automatically trains them and makes them great time managers. And that comes in handy when you get out in the professional world."
The varied course load allows students to stay flexible with their chosen tracks.
"The more science courses they take, maybe they become more interested in science. Or it could be the opposite, too," said Citim-Kepic.
Wade hasn't chosen a career path yet, but his two majors in very different fields give him great confidence in the future. But the most important aspect of the program for him is not having to abandon his life-long passion of music.
"I loved it too much. I was too passionate and I'd come too far too give it up."