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Alumni Profiles: Brenden Goetz

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.

Brenden Goetz graduated in 2007 with a degree in Philosophy. He now works as a Data Manager for the University of Colorado at Denver IT Department. When asked how studying philosophy has helped him in his career, he said:

“Studying philosophy was definitely a fantastic decision! Learning to dissect arguments and lines of reasoning, ask meaningful questions, and communicate clearly are skills I developed in school and use all the time. And a general curiosity for getting to the root of problems has served me well, too.”

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Alumni Profiles: Sarah Jacobson

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.

Sarah Jacobson graduated in 2005 with a degree in Philosophy. She now works as a Transit Control Supervisor for the Minneapolis Metro Transit. When asked how studying philosophy has helped her in her career, she said:

“My philosophy degree helped me transition into management positions easily, since I have superior critical thinking and problem solving skills and excellent written and oral communication. My career didn’t turn out as planned, but even so, I think my degree set me up to succeed.”

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Alumni Profiles: Holli Fillbach Simcoe ’95

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.

Holli Fillbach Simcoe graduated in 1995 with a degree in Philosophy. She now works as an Assistant General Counsel at Huron Consulting Group, which is a global management consulting group. When asked how studying philosophy has helped her in her career, she said:

“It’s hard to put a finger on exactly how philosophy studies have contributed to my career. It certainly helps me to be a critical thinker but also to be open-minded and creative.  I usually have more than one solution to a problem which most people find refreshing(…) in our many class discussions, I often took the minority viewpoint for the sake of argument. For example, if you were stuck on a boat in the ocean would you fend for yourself or cooperate for the greater good.  I found it more interesting to consider fending for myself than the more “sane” concept of working together.  This “thinking skill” or perhaps, “objectivity,” allows me to consider many angles of an issue or problem.  I tend not to dismiss something that may seem less rational than other solutions.”

 

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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.”

 

“Dialogues with Phil and Sophia – Who’s Moving?”

Recent graduate and philosophy major Nick Navarro ’15 has a strong interest in philosophy for children. So strong, in fact, that he wrote a philosophical book for children as an independent study in conjunction with his senior seminar (both taught by Ariela Tubert). Nick wanted to get children to think about the same issues that were being read and discussed in the senior seminar, and thus, the book project was born.

Dialogues with Phil and Sophia – Who’s Moving? follows the adventures of siblings Phil and Sophia as they work through some big questions about personal identity and agency. As Nick describes the book, “Phil and Sophia along the way practice thinking philosophically, questioning everything they encounter. From trees to pastries, each chapter discusses how reflection, relationships, reasoning, and resistance are meaningful to developing an identity. “

The book includes spaces for the readers to interact, noting their own philosophical questions and thoughts, as well as discussion questions at the end of each chapter. The book also includes artwork by illustrator Avery Aresu.

Following is a brief excerpt of Nick’s work. See if you can recognize the philosopher whose work inspired this encounter!

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If you guessed Derek Parfit, you’re right! Other chapters of the book make use of the work of Marya Schechtman, Paul Katsafanas, and Christine Korsgaard, giving the overall story its strong theme of questioning personal identity, but presenting this topic in ways that children can understand and grapple with for themselves.

For the end of the academic year, several excerpts from Nick’s book were enlarged and put up as an exhibit in Wyatt Hall, as shown below:

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Nick provides the following information about himself in relation to the book:

Nicolas Navarro dreams of a world driven by insatiable inquiry. Hoping to spark curiosity and imagination in everyone, Nicolas writes with the values of philosophy in mind so others may find satisfaction through pursuing wisdom.

Recently completing his B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Puget Sound, this is Nicolas’ first novel before he continues his studies, pursuing a M.S.Ed. in Community and Social Change from the University of Miami. On the horizon, Nicolas plans to apply for the Peace Corps and to continue writing philosophy novels for children.

I (Nicolas) think the most important way I can impact people’s lives is to teach them to think philosophically. Philosophy values a dialogue by which ideas can be discussed to develop meaning and broaden one’s experience. Doing philosophy inherently teaches people to think critically about the decisions they make and to become more accepting of others’ views. I hope you enjoy the book!

Want to read more? Nick’s book is now for sale on Amazon! Congratulations Nick!

Congratulations to philosophy majors class of 2015!

I will miss this great group of graduating students!  The philosophy faculty got to celebrate with students and various family members at the philosophy reception on Saturday morning, I got to be on stage with president Thomas at graduation, and Lee Pennebaker gave a great speech as the commencement speaker.  Busy, fun, and memorable weekend for us all.  Here are some photos of the philosophy majors during graduation weekend 2015:

From Left to right: Si-Won Song, Austen Harrison, Maia Bernick, Abby Osborne, Conner Sabin, Lee Pennebaker, Matt Archer

From Left to right: Si-Won Song, Austen Harrison, Maia Bernick, Abby Osborne, Conner Sabin, Lee Pennebaker, Matt Archer

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Lee Pennebaker

Lee Pennebaker

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Abby Osborne

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Austen Harrison

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Conner Sabin

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Lee Pennebaker

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Maia Bernick

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Matt Archer

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Si-Won Song

from left to right: Samantha Hartenbaum, Conner Sabin, Abby Osborne, Si-Won Song, Maia Bernick, Austen Harrison

At the Philosophy Department Graduation Reception. From left to right: Samantha Hartenbaum, Conner Sabin, Abby Osborne, Si-Won Song, Maia Bernick, Austen Harrison

Alumni News: Ben Malkin ’12

We heard from Ben Malkin, who sent us the following update from Southern California:

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I am working at my old elementary/middle school, right now as a middle school dorm parent. I am going back to school in the spring to get my teaching credentials.  Ojai Valley School is in my home town and is a wonderful private school.  Outdoor education is huge part of the school, we take the kids camping on the islands, go on rock climbing, snorkeling, kayaking trips, every 6th, 7th, and 8h grader must go on at least a 7 day back packing trip, and really anything outdoors to help kids grow. I will be working here for the next few years and maybe even long term.

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