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Philosophy Alumni Profiles

“As I enter my second year of law school, I know the Philosophy department at Morris gave me an invaluable education. In law school, you are taught to assume nothing, to analyze facts, and to live with and even embrace “grey areas” of the law. The same is true in Philosophy. Philosophy teaches one to use the information he or she absorbs and not merely regurgitate it. It encourages one to question everything, including one’s deep-seated beliefs. I felt I was far ahead of my peers when it came to reading cases and preparing for class because I could actually understand the court’s reasoning. The only “downside” is that the court’s reasoning is not always logical, classmates do not always reason logically, and one can start to feel that law is more about rhetoric than finding the truth. This can become frustrating, and is prevalent in more than just the law, but it is a small price to pay for what is gained.”

Yvette Butler ’11, philosophy
Student at George Washington University School of Law

“Coming from a strongly analytic department such as Morris was invaluable for my transition into graduate school. As I teach, I only hope that I’m able to impart to my students the appreciation for the rigor and beauty of doing philosophy that I gained at UMM.”

Jessica Engelking ’05, philosophy
master of philosophy
doctorate in philosophy, ABD
University of Iowa

“Under the tutelage of excellent faculty, I developed analytical and writing skills. It was my intent to use this degree as a steppingstone into the seminary, but circumstances prevented that from happening. I discovered exercise science and pursued that discipline for graduate studies. Now, as an assistant professor, my liberal arts education greatly influences my teaching philosophy. I emphasize critical thinking and the proper expression of thought. Philosophy was the best decision for me. I use the knowledge and skills developed in my work every day.”

Kelly Quick ’94, philosophy
master of kinesiology, Lamar University
doctorate in education, University of Northern Colorado
Assistant Professor of Exercise Science
Lakeland College

“It took a year of practicing to realize large law firm work did not provide me with the mental energy I need. I worked for a legal publisher as a reference attorney and later, as a product manager. I enjoyed creating products for lawyers and the challenge of new technologies. Today, I lead innovators who explore new product concepts with probable customers. My specialty is business modeling. My philosophy degree taught me to take a disciplined approach to examining ideas and innovations. It taught me how to analyze arguments—a skill that has broad applicability in the world of corporate leadership.“

Peggy Lahammer ’88, philosophy, political science
J.D., Washington College of Law, American University
Director of Customer Discovery and Innovation

“The education I received with the Philosophy Discipline benefited me most directly by imparting the fundamentals of analytical logic that I employ in my professional career. The communication and argumentation skills I honed have been invaluable aids given the multi-disciplinary background of the people I work with, both in my professional career and in my day-to-day life.”

Wayne Manselle ’05, philosophy, computer science
master of computer and information, University of Oregon
Research and Technical Assistant
University of Oregon Motor Control and Cognition Lab

“I teach a range of courses in applied ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of law. I’m exactly where I want to be, and I couldn’t have done it without the training, encouragement, and inspiration I received in the Philosophy Discipline at the University of Minnesota Morris.”

David Speetzen ’02, philosophy, English
doctorate in ethics and political philosophy, Washington University
Assistant Professor of Philosophy
Winona State University

“The Philosophy Discipline not only gave me a strong philosophical and ethical foundation in the classics of philosophy, but also taught me to be a strategic, innovative free thinker. My success in research compliance and as a bioethicist is directly attributable to the education I received as a philosophy major. None of it would have been possible were it not for the tremendous patience, breadth of knowledge, and support imparted on me by the UMM philosophy professors.”

Jessica Attwood Hirsch ’02, philosophy
master of bioethics
doctorate student in bioethics and health policy, Loyola Medical School
Assistant Director for the Office of Outreach Services
University of Wisconsin, Madison.

“As an academic philosopher, I teach some of the very courses I took as an undergraduate. I rely heavily on not only knowledge of philosophy and its history, which I learned as a UMM philosophy major, but more importantly, critical thinking and analytical skills which philosophy teaches a student better—arguably—than any other discipline. I’m the author of Frege and the Logic of Sense and Reference, and about two dozen articles on philosophical logic, informal logic, and the history of analytic philosophy.”

Kevin Klement ’95, philosophy, peace studies concentration
doctorate in philosophy, University of Iowa
Associate Professor of Philosophy
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

“My degree directly helped me in my professional life allowing me to enroll in a philosophy graduate program, which in turn allowed me to enroll in my neuroscience program. The indirect benefits have been even greater. I presented a paper at an Oxford Round Table titled “Soul As Theory,” in which I examine problems with the concept of soul when viewed from a scientific theory perspective. My philosophy degree gave me the background and skills needed to produce such a paper, a formal example of the many ways in which my philosophy degree enriches my ability to converse on many topics.”

Kyle Vick ’94, philosophy, physics
master of science in physics
doctorate in neurosciences and cognitive sciences, University of Maryland
Associate Professor of Psychology
Shawnee State University

“The Philosophy Discipline is a gem within a gem. I enjoyed the subject and the people who taught it, and I use the skills obtained. Intellectually, legal writing is akin to writing on philosophical questions. One must analyze, construct, and support arguments that are concise, logical, and persuasive. Because of philosophy, I am better able to spot defects in my opponents’ reasoning and, more importantly, to eliminate defects in my own. I learned problem-solving skills and how to develop and support plausible answers to uncertain questions. I deal with an avalanche of detail while holding in focus the larger policy aims and, hopefully, the public good. I trace the development of my abilities to studying philosophy.”

Marcus W. Miller ’92, philosophy,
J.D., William Mitchel College of Law
Civil Division Chief for the Stearns County Attorney’s Office
Judge Advocate General’s Corps, United States Army Reserve.

“My introduction to philosophy was a Theory of Knowledge high school class (a rare experience), but I certainly didn’t expect to be a college philosophy major. Yet, in taking a logic class and an introductory level philosophy course, I found myself truly enjoying the work. I figured out that I wanted to teach at the college level and decided it was best to pursue the discipline I loved—a decision I will never regret. I have taught philosophy at Northland Community and Technical College, where I discovered the joy of teaching engaged health majors studying medical ethics and first generation community college students opening to the challenge of examining basic beliefs and values.”

Brian J. Huschle ’91, philosophy, English
Master of philosophy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Doctorate in philosophy, University of Nebraska, Lincoln
Dean of Academic Affairs
Northland Community and Technical College

“Like many who study philosophy, the chance to tackle intractable problems of great consequence drew me to it. Philosophy strengthened my ability to think through problems in a clear, systematic way, and to tolerate ambiguity about the ‘right’ solution. This is good preparation for the working world, where specific skills can quickly become obsolete, but the ability and enthusiasm to learn new methods and think through problems is always in demand. I’m an urban planning graduate student and a planner on a pilot project that uses new technology and demand-responsive pricing to reduce the impact of automobiles searching for parking.”

Michael Rhodes ’07, philosophy, English
Graduate Student in Urban Planning
University of California, Berkeley

“Philosophy enhanced my ability to think critically and reason, as well as to listen. I learned to argue and defend my position, but also to have an open mind and understand other viewpoints, invaluable skills when I turned my hobby into a career, Iceberg Web Design, a website development company. Running the business is now my full-time job. I use my experiences in philosophy every day as I grow my business and hire new employees. The ability to think critically (and quickly!), listen, and reason are qualities that every business owner and entrepreneur needs to succeed.”

Jessi Gurr ’04, philosophy, mathematics
Owner, Iceberg Web Design

“I currently work at a small Minneapolis firm, where I represent workers in lawsuits against employers for discrimination, harassment, unlawful retaliation, or unpaid wages. My profession is fulfilling and provides enough money to pay the bills. My philosophy major helped me perform well on the LSAT, allowed me to more easily identify strengths or weaknesses in legal arguments during law school, and still assists me in crafting letters or briefs in an attempt to persuade judges or other attorneys that my clients should prevail under existing laws.”

Tim Phillips ’04, philosophy, political science
JD, University of California, Hastings College of Law
Law Office of Joshua R. Williams