Alumni Profiles: Roger Valdez ’90

Philosophy majors pursue a wide variety of career paths after graduation, including but not limited to law, business, and higher education. Every few weeks, we will be featuring one of our department’s alumni, highlighting how their studies in philosophy have helped them in their post-graduate careers.

Roger Valdez graduated from Puget Sound in 1990 with a major in philosophy. He is now the director of Smart Growth Seattle, an advocacy group that works with the City of Seattle to manage neighborhood growth. He has been profiled in The Stranger, Seattle Met Magazine, and Seattle Times, and also contributes to Forbes Magazine. We asked him how studying philosophy has helped him in his career, and he had this to say:

“Throughout my career in public policy, I have relied on my study of philosophy in four important ways. First, I learned how to argue in philosophy – and I don’t mean just shouting louder than someone on the other side. Philosophy trains the mind to organize ideas and find flaws, inconsistencies, and errors in the other sides arguments. Second, I started to learn how to write in my philosophy classes. Many of the things I learned in my years in the program formed the foundation for the writing I do today. Third, the history of ideas matters; who’d have thought that I’d be quoting from Marx’s Critique of the Gotha Program (“History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce”) on the local radio station more than 25 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union (…) Finally, my philosophy education, and more broadly my liberal arts education, has given me a rich context in ideas and culture from which to draw when both understanding where our current world came from and where it might be going.”


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