WHY STUDY PHILOSOPHY? Our students respond in their own words:
Maggie Roberts, BA 2019
When I came to SU I thought that philosophy would be far too advanced for me, but through the mentorship of multiple faculty members, I found that that is the precise reason one should study philosophy: to grapple with questions that have persisted through time. The most exciting realization I had when I declared my major was that philosophy is not too advanced for anyone. Philosophy is unique as a discipline because the questions that you consider will apply to all other disciplines that you study. Also, I particularly love how personable the faculty members are. It’s an honor to be a part of the department!
Aidan Avery, BA 2018
My time in Cuba is marked most significantly by the
an unfamiliar sense of general community and social openness that
I felt amongst the Cuban people. The streets are constantly alive
with people—using payphones, walking through the markets,
waiting in line, sitting on their doorsteps, calling out to each
other in the street. Amongst the bright, worn colors and the
aged architecture there is a steady current of movement and
interaction, and stepping into the streets of Havana felt like
Rachael Yonek, BA 2018
Since graduating I’ve moved to Nashville, Tennessee where I have started the PhD program in Philosophy at Vanderbilt University. Studying philosophy at Seattle U opened up my world to new questions, perspectives, and methodologies. It’s difficult for me not to go on endlessly about how much I love and cherish SU’s Philosophy department. The Philosophy department is where I found my ideal academic experience. The faculty challenged me with both fun puzzles and penetrating questions. They expected the best of my writing. I truly feel like I was raised and supported by a community of people I admire so deeply. The Philosophy department offers a thorough and stimulating academic program but does so while educating and attending to the whole person. After meeting many people from other undergraduate philosophy programs, I can confirm something I’d already suspected: SU’s Philosophy department is something special. The people involved and the genuine care they show transformed this excellent program into one of the most important formative experiences of my life.
Melissa Schade, BA 2017
Since graduating in 2017, I have been lucky enough to remain a member of the SU community—this time a paid one! I am the Assistant Director of the Office of Fellowships, and I work to connect students with fellowships that match their interests and career goals. Once a student decides to apply for a fellowship, I advise them throughout the application process and work with them on their written components, like the personal statement. This is where my background in Philosophy really helps me out.
Philosophy courses taught me how to present my ideas through well-constructed, systematic arguments with clear organization. I also learned how to express what about my argument or idea is most distinct. These skills help me look at the bigger picture of what applicants are trying to accomplish in their writing and why they aren’t being as effective as they can be. Philosophy also taught me the importance of being explicit, rather than alluding to a point or a connection between ideas, and actually recognizing when something isn’t explicit. These big ideas about how to write effectively can be hard to communicate in small, tangible steps with applicants. Luckily for me, in all my Philosophy courses I practiced explaining huge, lofty theories in grounded, simpler ways. Put simply, studying Philosophy trained me to be an organized thinker and communicator, skills that serve me well in whatever work I’m doing.
John Hopkins, BA 1996
"The thing is to understand myself, to see what God really wishes me to do; the thing is to find a truth which is true for me, to find the idea for which I can live and die." Before reading this quote while a sophomore in college, I had decided to major in music. I was convinced, in fact, that only a musical career could satisfy me. After reading this quote, I changed my major to philosophy, without hesitation. And I've never looked back. Something about this quote spoke to me at the age of 22. It's a well-known quote from the Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard, who himself was 22 when he wrote these lines in his journals. I felt what he wrote; he named my experience. This was my burning question as a young student, although I hardly knew how to articulate it. Music could help me express it. But at that moment I knew philosophy could help me understand it, open pathways to answer it. At the time, I attended an evangelical college across Lake Washington, hoping to begin a music career in ministry after graduation. I exhausted the college's philosophy offerings and then decided to transfer to Seattle University, where my philosophical studies truly began. Truth be told, I struggled immensely. Philosophy, it turned out, was a difficult major and did not come naturally. But the faculty in the department held compassion and expectations together. Their inspiration and guidance put me on a pathway to study philosophy on the graduate level and eventually teach philosophy to undergraduate students. Why did I major in philosophy? It certainly wasn't because of the money or even the need to become an academic or scholar. I majored in philosophy because it woke me up to my life. As my partner would say, philosophy saved me.
Associate Dean of Students
Director of Diversity and Equity Center
Senior Instructor, Society and Social Justice Saint Martin's University