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Philosophy Careers

Philosophy Alumni Testimonials

Carolyn Rekerdres, M.D., BA '02

Carolyn Rekerdres, M.D., BA '02

Who is your favorite philosopher?
Aristotle

What is your profession?
Community Psychiatrist

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
Having a nonscience major is a major plus when applying for medical school; it shows flexibility in thinking and true range in intellect. When applying to residency, I was told that my program director loved liberal arts majors from UD. UT Southwestern is a top 10 program in the country, so that’s very high praise.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
At every level in my career, my philosophical education and thoughtful exploration of the good life for man has been helpful. I am comfortable in intellectual discussions with anyone. A foundation in philosophy is a commitment to living a life with purpose. That’s helpful no matter what field you enter.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
This is a degree that prepares you for a lifetime of curiosity and competency. These texts have been difficult for scholars throughout the ages. Tackling them at such a young age is a challenge. Speaking as a woman, this accomplishment grew my confidence in my own cognitive abilities. There was only one other female who was a philosophy major when I studied at UD. Being able to succeed in a male-dominated intellectual space at that time set me up for confidence in my abilities as a medical student and later as a physician and as a mother too.

Mike Brock, Ph.D., LPC, BA ’70

Mike Brock, Ph.D., LPC, BA ’70

Who is your favorite philosopher?
I much appreciate Kant’s humanistic ethics and the existentialists’ and phenomenologists’ emphasis on the importance of individual experience.

What is your profession?
Psychotherapist, Educator

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
It helped me focus on goals that served my passion for learning.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
It helps me stay focused on both the root causes of problems and the present inner experience of my clients and, for my students, on both the theoretical and practical elements discovered in the schools of psychotherapy.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
A teacher once told me (in a graduate history class) that if you take history (or any academic subject) as far as it will go, you end up with philosophy, and if you take philosophy as far as it will go, you end up with God. That was 45 years ago, and it has stayed with me. Philosophy serves as a reminder to me that ultimate questions matter. I think that has helped me stay focused on the big questions and avoid “majoring in the minors.”

William Stigall, M.D., BA '09

William Stigall, M.D., BA '09

Who is your favorite philosopher?
Thomas Aquinas

What is your profession?
Physician

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
The study of philosophy didn't help me start my career, but it was absolutely essential in understanding the nature and limits of medicine. Galen said a physician who wasn't also a philosopher is a mere conjurer. And he's right. Philosophy is absolutely essential to the practice of medicine. I don't know how those without a background in philosophy do it.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
Because of my philosophy education, I've served on bioethics committees and institutional review boards, and been able to return to UD and teach. I've recently been promoted to medical director of the Human Research Protection Program at Cook Children's Healthcare System. I wouldn't have been able to do any of these (especially the last) without my philosophy training.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
Philosophy allows access, answers and insights to life's biggest questions. The big questions are big not only because they're important, but also because they're found everywhere and affect everything. I don't know how laymen or medical professionals navigate the issues of life and death, health and disease, happiness and wholeness without a background in philosophy.

Michael Hayes, BA '12

Michael Hayes, BA '12

Who is your favorite philosopher?
St. Augustine

What is your profession?
Lawyer

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
Short answer: Learned that I loved making and analyzing arguments. Longer answer: I went to grad school for philosophy. Once I started a family, I realized that (in all likelihood) philosophy couldn't pay the bills. What job would actually pay me to read, write and analyze arguments? I went to law school — and my grad assistant teaching job in the philosophy department helped get me through school.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
The focus on logic and clarity makes a huge difference in one's writing. Without that emphasis, I would not have succeeded in law school.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
I keep on reading philosophy because I enjoy it — even though it's no longer "relevant" for my career. (Oh, also: reading anything, but especially philosophy, from different periods in history helps give one greater perspective on contemporary religious, political and moral debates.)

Bill Betzen, BA '71

Bill Betzen, BA '71

Who is your favorite philosopher?
Dr. Frederick Wilhelmson

What is your profession?
Social Work, Teacher, Child motivator

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
I started as a child abuse investigator for the state of Texas in Dallas County. Having a solid foundation to work from was priceless. Every day I encountered tragic human situations of life and death that had to be sorted out and resolved in the best form possible.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
The study of human knowing helped in my graduate social work studies and the 28 years I worked in child abuse investigations and child placement. Children must have their history follow them. I pioneered open adoption, expanding it for Lutheran Social Services of Texas and then working to change Catholic Charities of Dallas from being one of the most closed, traditional adoption agencies in Dallas to being a leader in open adoption. Along the way in 1993, we served more maternity clients than probably any year in Dallas Catholic Charities history, helping over 80% of these clients prepare a home for their child. In helping the one out of seven who made adoption plans for her child, we helped her select and know the family she wanted for her child, and we helped those families know their child's birth family. In 1993, Catholic Charities placed more children than any year in 25 years! I have a wonderful Christmas photo with most of these 33 children in it with their families and our bishop.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
In 2000 I joined my wife as a teacher, using the 1972 teaching certificate I received from UD for the first time teaching in a high-poverty inner-city Dallas middle school. In 2005 I helped start the School Time Capsule Project so students could both explore their own history and have written plans for their own future. I retired in 2011 and helped the School Time Capsule Project expand to 20 Dallas ISD schools: four high schools, 10 middle schools and six elementary schools. If you go into a Dallas school and see a 700-pound vault in the lobby, that is a Time Capsule School. Knowing their family history and having plans for their future is the most valuable reality in the lives of our students. That first middle school continues to always be one of the highest performing middle schools in all of Dallas ISD. This past year they were again the best of all 33 middle schools in spite of also being one of the five highest-poverty middle schools in Dallas ISD. That is the power of knowing, a priceless lesson from Dr. Wilhelmson, God rest his soul! This year Quintanilla Middle School will have their sixth 10-year reunion when the eighth grade class of 2010 returns to pick up the letters in the School Time Capsule Vault that they received from family and wrote to themselves 10 years ago. They then volunteer to return to Quintanilla on Career Day to speak of their lives and life after Quintanilla, and the value of planning for their future. Quintanilla had to replace their original vault this past year, as it has proven to be too small. It was a 350-pound vault with only 16 cubic feet of space. They now have a 700-pound vault with 43 cubic feet of room to better hold all the letters written. That is the size now recommended in all schools. This year Quintanilla Middle School will have their 6th 10-year reunion when the 8th grade class of 2010 returns to pick up the letters in the School Time Capsule Vault that they received from family and wrote to themselves 10 years ago. They then volunteer to return to Quintanilla on Career Day to speak of their lives and life after Quintanilla, and the value of planning for their future. Quintanilla had to replace their original vault this past year as it has proven to be too small. It was a 350 pound vault with only 16 cubic feet of space. They now have a 700 pound vault with 43 cubic feet of room to better hold all the letters written. That is the size now recommended in all schools.

Paul Schemel BA, '94

Paul Schemel BA, '94

Who is your favorite philosopher?
St. Augustine

What is your profession?
Attorney/State Legislator

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
The study and practice of law requires you to read, analyze and write, all skills honed through the study of philosophy. The volume of reading and writing required of philosophy majors at UD gave me a significant advantage when I entered law school.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
Studying philosophy helps you learn to think critically, a skill that is important in most professional careers. Having to write and follow a logical argument certainly prepares you to better articulate your thoughts.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
Philosophy gives you circumspection or, perhaps more accurately, an appreciation for the need to be circumspect in the way you approach questions. Getting to the heart of a matter, and then seeing it from all sides continues to help me see beauty and pursue the good.

Lisa Gabriel, BA ’90

Lisa Gabriel, BA ’90

Who is your favorite philosopher?
Aristotle

What is your profession?
Higher Education and Technology

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
N/A

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
N/A

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
My degree in philosophy helped hone my critical thinking skills, which is a crucial element of success in today’s changing world. The required readings and all of the writing instilled in me the ability to see a new problem and use past experiences and past learning to determine a solution. It taught me to think ... or at least reinforced that I knew how to think and refined my thinking process. This has played out throughout my career.

Thomas Miovas BA, '87

Thomas Miovas BA, '87

Who is your favorite philosopher?
Ayn Rand

What is your profession?
Production Worker

How did the study of philosophy help you get started in your career (if it did)?
The fact that I had a degree got me a few more dollars per hour.

How does the study of philosophy help you excel in your career?
It keeps me levelheaded, like accepting the facts for what they are and living my life according to the facts.

How does the study of philosophy continue to have benefits in your life beyond your career?
Philosophy helps me to think things through, both the moral and the practical. It leads me to be able to reason from several perspectives at the same time. I find this to be helpful when caught up in a complicated situation.

News

Alumni Spotlight: A Personal Pledge to Pay it Forward

For Vince Pawlowski, BA ’85, the decision to generously support the new Class of 1985 Scholarship Fund with a $100,000 lead gift was born out of a simple desire to give back to the institution that had given him so much. I recently sat down with Pawlowski, a successful defense attorney who sold his practice in Florida and now manages real estate properties around the country, to talk about his ongoing philanthropy, most recent gift and his personal pledge to give back.

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