Majors: Political Science and Philosophy
Residence: Saint Louis, Mo.
What are you doing now?
Currently, I am attending law school at Saint Louis University School of Law and planning on specializing in health law. I am also in the process of applying to hopefully begin studies next semester toward a PhD in Health Care Ethics, attempting to earn both my JD and PhD degrees in five years.
Why did you choose SJC?
I chose SJC for two main reasons. Firstly, I had spent my entire educational life within the private, Catholic school system, and it was in that system that I felt most comfortable. I wanted a college with a strong Catholic tradition and I found that at SJC. Secondly, I found the size of SJC to be very attractive. Prior to visiting campus, I had this view of college classes taking place in large auditoriums with detached professors teaching to a room of nameless faces. However, after visiting SJC, I saw that this place was special in that the teachers care about the students and their successes, both academically and otherwise. The fact that SJC is a small college allows students to take advantage of critical one-on-one time with the professors to clear up any questions and better understand the material. Lastly, I loved the size of SJC because it was easier to make a noticeable impact on campus, whether it is through the many clubs, working on campus, or in my case just doing something as simple as setting up for campus Masses.
What experiences did you appreciate most in the SJC Department of Political Science?
The relationship I have formed with the professors is what I value most about my time spent in the Political Science Department. Getting to know and respect the professors made learning more enjoyable because by the end of my years at SJC, professors who were more like friends were teaching me. Additionally, Dr. Peter Watkins, during his class on Political Theory, assigned a truly unique assignment. He asked us to analyze a film, song, play, or any form of media with an eye toward political issues and ideals, and then present it to the class. He gave us great latitude in choosing our media and that assignment did not even seem like homework because I enjoyed it so much. Dr. David Dixon, another professor in Political Science, taught me the value of research and organizing it into research-based papers, even allowing his Political Science Seminar class to compose a scholarly article with him to be reviewed for publication in an academic journal. In that class, we spent an entire semester compiling data on women during the American Civil Rights Movement, as well as performing statistical analysis and interpreting our findings. It was a great opportunity.
What experiences did you appreciate most in the SJC Department of Philosophy and Religion?
One of the many blessings of taking Philosophy at SJC is that you are almost guaranteed smaller, exclusive classes. Because of this, almost every class feels more like a club or a group of friends just getting together to think about things one normally would not think about. During my time at SJC, I had several philosophy classes with less than five people in it, including the professor. I really enjoy small classes and I think philosophy is done best in small numbers, where people can freely express their ideas and thoughts in a relaxed environment. I think some of my favorite experiences in philosophy would include taking Logic, Philosophy of Law, and a metaphysics seminar, all taught by Bro. Rob. Logic was a lot of fun for me because it was like solving little puzzles. It was less like homework and more like an activity that one would do to pass time during a long car ride. Metaphysics and Philosophy of Law were fascinating, though certainly complex, and having only four people in the classes allowed plenty of time to digest and process the complex material. By the end of the semester, few classes proved to be as rewarding as these two. Lastly, in Dr. Malone's classes, at least once a semester we would watch a film and identify/analyze the philosophical elements within the film. These days were always fun and provided a unique avenue to discover philosophy's role in everyday media and living.
As a student, what was your experience like at SJC?
My experience as a student at SJC was thoroughly enjoyable. There were just so many opportunities to get involved, and the friendships I made are permanent. The faculty, staff, and students were among the kindest people I have ever encountered and would always make themselves available to aid in any way. The free admission to the sporting events and campus events was great and provided fun times to socialize with friends and support the college. Little 500 and Homecoming are always a blast because one is taking part in SJC's rich history. Because I grew so much personally and academically during my years there, it was a bittersweet day when I graduated. I always look forward to visiting SJC because it takes me back to some of the best times of my life.
How did the Core Program integrate with your major?
Core integrated in many ways with both my Political Science and Philosophy majors. In Core 2, we read political philosophy books such as Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan and Karl Marx's Communist Manifesto. Reading these books in Core class supplemented the learning that took place in the political Science classroom because I was introduced to the thoughts of non-Political Science majors, which provided an outside perspective on political philosophy. Core 4 is heavily rooted in medieval philosophy, reading such books as Saint Augustine's Confessions and Dante's Inferno. I really enjoyed Core 4 because it involved a lot of material covered in a Medieval Philosophy class. Despite the overlap, I gained a lot from both Core 4 and Medieval Philosophy because of the differing viewpoints among my classmates. That is one of the best things about Core's integration with one's major(s), it is always a different experience because every person has something to contribute to the discussion, as well as offer viewpoints one may not have previously considered.
What advice would you give to a prospective student looking to major in Political Science/Philosophy at SJC?
Take advantage of the elite professors within the Political Science and Philosophy departments. Make it a point to get to know them and utilize the small classes and individual appointments to gain a better understanding of the material. Also, work hard, of course, but get involved in other activities on campus. There are simply too many opportunities at SJC to be missed. Balance is needed in everything, including college, so try to strike a balance between staying focused on school and making time to enjoy the college years and the people that make those years so special. Lastly, do not be afraid of college; be excited about college. I was terrified that I was not going to be able to adjust to life away from home because I tend to be more introverted around new places and people. However, before long, SJC became a new home and the people there became a new family. True learning and growth takes place at SJC, and I credit SJC with largely being responsible for who I am today.
How were the faculty members in your department helpful to you?
Brother Rob Reuter: Bro. Rob was extremely helpful in developing my ability to critically evaluate complex arguments and maintain consistent, logical thinking in the pursuit of truth. Bro. Rob is not only someone I respect immensely, but he also pushed me to be a better student through his uncanny ability to assign reading or assignments that are challenging, but never overwhelming. It is striking this balance, among other things, that separates Bro. Rob from a lot of his colleagues. He was also there to offer kind words and support when my grandfather passed away the week of finals my junior year. I sincerely doubt professors at big universities would have taken the time to do so, and it meant a lot.
Peter Watkins: Peter was the first professor I met at SJC, so we have known each other for a long time. Among many other things, Peter taught me the value of summarizing, a skill that is essential in law school. Peter's classes were some of the most interesting/enjoyable because of the way he stimulates class discussion and debate by asking thought-provoking questions. Peter is the perfect example of a professor that takes the time to get to know his students and is awesome about making himself available outside of class. I can honestly say that Peter prepared me exceptionally well for law school. Even now, as a graduate of SJC, Peter and I remain in contact and anytime I am in the SJC area, we make it a point to grab lunch and catch up.
Michael Malone: During my first semester at SJC, I enjoyed Dr. Malone's Medieval Philosophy class so much that I decided to declare Philosophy as my second major. Dr. Malone's discussion based-classes are always exciting and lively. He is also an exceptional lecturer so even in the rare instances when he lectures in class, it is still enjoyable. In many classes, Dr. Malone will do away with the traditional classroom setting and ask students to move their desks into a circle to better facilitate discussion. In this way and others, his classes feel more like a symposium or a seminar, and I always found them helpful in making the class a more relaxed and casual affair. In law school, classes are never relaxed so I am reminded daily of why I miss Dr. Malone's classes.
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