From the June 21 issue of the College of Arts and Sciences online magazine: "Michael Kester [CU Philosophy BA 1996] knows when to shift gears. He was a first-year business student at the University of Colorado Boulder in the early 1990s when he took an introduction to philosophy course and was hooked.
“It just felt right. It felt like this is what the college experience should be,” he recalled recently. “It forced me to think differently, to challenge my own biases, ask myself questions I wouldn’t have otherwise asked about the world and about myself. It was just fun.”
So much fun that he switched majors and graduated in philosophy summa cum laude in 1996. His openness to change was no fluke, as his résumé shows:
After graduating from Harvard Law School, Kester became co-president of a leadership consulting firm, and before that served a stint as a Wall Street financial analyst. Last year, he launched Lead Belay, an affordable “peer-based leadership experience” for millennials.
Gray Kochhar-Lindgren was a Philosophy Major at CU-Boulder, class of 1977. Some of his CU professors were Forrest Williams (his advisor), Phyllis Kenevan, and Ed Miller. He went on to get a PhD in Philosophy, Literature, and Cultural Theory at Emory University’s Graduate Institute of Liberal Arts. He is now Professor and Director of The Common Core at the University of Hong Kong. He writes, "I have long been interested in the and that traverses and accompanies philosophy and when I graduated from CU in ’77 I felt like I had barely begun to become oriented within and along the edges of the many traditions and styles of philosophy. I remember sitting in those hard chairs in Hellems taking notes on Chinese Philosophy, Jung and Philosophy, and the introductions to the history of philosophy. (I still have those notebooks.) I was completely at sea with Leibniz and Spinoza and remember happily, if confusedly, reading the opening pages of Being and Time as the snow fell steadily and softly outside. Life unfolded in its predictable and unpredictable ways, and, after a Fulbright first lured me to Hong Kong in 2009, I had the great good fortune in 2014 to come back as the Director of the University of Hong Kong’s Common Core (https://commoncore.hku.hk/). I resigned tenure for the second, and last, time, and started making what contributions I could to enriching, with scores of colleagues, an extraordinary curriculum. Over the years I’ve kept reading and writing, in fits and starts, and am more enamored than ever with philosophy and its multiple ands, including literature, art, ecology, the sciences, anthropology, critical theory, and urban studies. I am still mightily flummoxed by Spinoza, Kant, Leibniz, and Deleuze, but when I can grab a few minutes I still pick my way with great delight through those beautiful conceptual brambles. The philosophy department at CU, setting me on my way, opened passageways toward thought and toward a future of reading, writing, teaching, and creating institutional learning platforms, for which I will be forever grateful."
According to the profile by Doug McPherson, 'When [Howard] started at CU Boulder in 1996, he was thinking FBI. Growing up, he idolized his grandfather, a World War II vet and FBI agent whose stories left young Howard mesmerized. “He was about the coolest person I could imagine, and I wanted to follow in his footsteps.” One path to the FBI was a law degree, and when Howard learned philosophy grads often scored well on the law school admissions test (LSAT), choosing a major became easy. His fondness for the discipline grew in high school, especially after reading Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the popular 1974 novel chronicling a father-son cross-country ride full of philosophical ruminations on a Honda Super Hawk.
“Philosophy seemed like a natural path.” His mother and grandfather studied philosophy, too. “It ran in the family.”
'Howard says the major has proven to be practical.
'“Philosophy helps me objectively assess activities and logically explain reasons we should or shouldn’t do something. To be able to look at something wholly and not have emotion tied to it is valued in business. And you can use the skills from logic in everyday life. People don’t realize it, but philosophy is everywhere: motivational books, TV, movies and games.”
'One game he recommends that explores how choices can affect others is called Bioshock. “You can see how Ayn Rand (20th century philosopher and author) could have manifested in a new world,” he says.
'By his senior year, Howard says the prospect of taking the LSAT “freaked” him out so he opted for the business world instead. And while Howard readily admits games don’t solve major world issues, he does know they offer people an escape and perhaps even a small dose of happiness.
'“I find that truly amazing,” he says. “I like bringing people something that makes them smile.”
'Another part of Howard’s life reflects the moral slice of philosophy—how humans can be better. Each week he volunteers at a soup kitchen and every paycheck he gives money to charities.
'“I feel so gratified that I’m able to help others more than I was before,” he says. “Every day I take a moment and really step back to appreciate how good my life is, and how I worked hard to get here. That is something I would recommend—take each thing you accomplish and celebrate it.”
'Another recommendation: Be kind.'
Toby Bollig graduated in 2018 with degrees in philosophy and physics. While at CU, Toby was very involved on campus. His favorite activity was serving on (and later chairing) the Chancellor’s Accessibility Committee, which works with the university administration to improve campus culture, climate, access, and inclusion for students, faculty, and staff with disabilities. His work on disability inclusion helped inspire his philosophy honors thesis, which takes steps to resolve certain consistency issues that arise when we try to include people with disabilities in particular theistic accounts of human rights. While he acknowledges that further practical and theoretical work still needs to be done in this realm, Toby hopes that this project will help foster greater inclusion of people with disabilities in American religious life.
In the fall of 2019, Toby began working towards a PhD in philosophy at Rutgers University. He is currently doing research on ethics, metaphysics, philosophy of religion, and philosophy of disability. He is particularly interested in ways that these first three topics intersect in the context of disability. As he pursues his PhD, Toby hopes to continue learning about and working towards disability inclusion in higher education.
Brian Menges was a Philosophy Major graduating with a BA from CU Boulder in 2005, Magna Cum Laude. He is Chef and owner of Second Street Bistro http://secondstreetbistro.com/bistro/, in Livingston Montana, as well as Gil’s Goods, Murray Bar, employing 74 people and growing. With the opening of his new restaurant, Gil’s Goods, in May of 2012, Menges is realizing his dream to have a café that operates on the S.O.L.E. food principal of providing sustainable, organic, local and ethical food, and fits the notion in Hemingway’s story that a café should be “reluctant to close up because there may be someone who needs [it].”
Brian received Montana Ambassadors’ Entrepreneur of the Year Award in 2012. He was featured in 2009 on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. His restaurant 2nd Street Bistro was featured in a New York Times guide to Livingston, Montana here:
And he is the subject of a profile in Edible Bozeman here: https://www.ediblebozeman.com/chef-profile/the-chef-philosopher/
He credits his philosophy degree at CU and "learning how to think” — not to mention “a couple of incredibly influential classes from Dave Youkey” — as the bedrock on which he "built this sustainable little empire”. He is currently at work on an autobiography which will form the opening chapter of a cookbook that he is writing about the life experiences of a modern day hedonistic chef philosopher with an anarchist bent in rural Montana. He says, “I certainly have found that my philosophical education is not only the bedrock of my success in business, but a source of continual enjoyment in my life.”
Heather Demarest is Assistant Professor of Philosophy here at CU Boulder. She graduated from CU with degrees in both philosophy and physics in 2004, for which she earned a summa cum laude in each, as well as a minor in mathematics. She studied physics here with such notables as Prof. Carl Wieman, Eric Cornell, Allan Franklin, and Noah Finkelstein, as well as Prof Carol Cleland in philosophy. She then went on to earn a BPhil in philosophy from Oxford and a PhD in philosophy from Rutgers. Heather has always been passionate about philosophy, though she thinks science, particularly physics, is crucial too. Both science and philosophy try to answer questions about the basic structure of the universe and her own research looks for intuitive ways of characterizing and interpreting technical physics. Even so, her favorite class to teach is Introduction to Philosophy because she loves sparking passion in her students for the really big and important questions such as: Who are you? Can you choose what to do with your life? Why does it matter what you do?
Andrew Ghizzone will graduate with a BA in Philosophy in December 2018. He spent the second half of his CU career studying philosophy after switching from psychology. He took a few elective classes in philosophy early in his career and realized that what he was studying and learning in his philosophy classes was relevant to what he wanted to do in the future, namely, coaching: philosophy taught him to critically analyze and articulate his own opinions, which is what he tries to teach athletes to do as a coach. He is now an assistant coach for the track team at CU and hopes to advance though the division ranks as a coach in the future. He also coaches gymnastics in Boulder for ages 2-80. As a track and field athlete at CU, he is the record holder in the heptathlon (60 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 60m hurdles, pole vault, 1000m) and is a conference champion in the same events. You can read more about his athletic accomplishments here: https://cubuffs.com/roster.aspx?rp_id=1487
Hannah teaching at SMK Tutur, East Java. Photo Credit: Peace Corps Indonesia
Hannah C. Fowler graduated in 2013 with an MA in Philosophy with an emphasis on moral and political studies. Her thesis was an examination of immigration rights and the path to citizenship in the United States. While in the program, she discovered a passion to use the knowledge and skills that she was gaining at CU to serve others and work abroad.
Shortly after graduation, she was accepted into the Peace Corps. She served in Indonesia as a Peace Corps Volunteer from 2013-2015. Her greatest achievement during her service was founding a debate team as an extracurricular opportunity for her female students. Using the logic, reasoning, and critical-thinking skills that she had carefully developed at CU’s philosophy program, she was able to pass this on to a young group of girls who are now becoming leaders in their own communities.
After the Peace Corps, Hannah continued her work abroad ranging from managing an ocean conservation NGO in Papua to starting up a sanitary pad and menstrual health education program with a local NGO in Ghana. She is particularly indebted to her CU Professor, Dr. Ajume Wingo, who gave her the opportunity to work in Ghana.
She is currently serving as the Operations Manager at the Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence in Boston, Massachusetts. She is proud to manage a program that can assist immigrant survivors of domestic violence in 18+ languages by providing them with emergency shelter, housing assistance, legal services, and cultural understanding.
Annaleigh Curtis graduated in 2013 with a PhD in Philosophy and a Graduate Certificate in Women and Gender Studies from CU-Boulder. After graduate school, she graduated cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2016, where she served as Executive Submissions Editor for the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender. She has published several articles at the intersections of law and social philosophy, all of which drew on the work she did in her PhD dissertation. Annaleigh is now an attorney at Wilmer, Cutler, Pickering, Hale & Dorr—recently ranked second on The American Lawyer’s 2018 A-List, which highlights firms with strong financial performance, pro bono commitment, associate satisfaction, and racial and gender diversity. She represents a variety of clients in a broad range of industries in complex litigation matters, with an emphasis on intellectual property litigation. Annaleigh has represented clients in patent and trademark disputes in federal courts and the International Trade Commission. She has also represented pro bono clients before the Social Security Administration and in briefs to the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and United States Supreme Court.
John Kealey began his studies at CU as a business major; sophomore year, he took an introductory philosophy class, and eventually switched his major to Philosophy, the Law and Society track. CU's philosophy department was the first truly challenging experience he had in college. He says, "I immediately noticed that the manner of oral presentation and writing was an optimal beginning for a career as an attorney. Even now, I would not say I was designed as a philosopher. But the care and passion of the professors and assistants fine-tuned my philosophical writing in under a year. The manner in which the professors challenged me to train my mind to obsess over the smallest details uniquely prepared me for legal writing. After graduating in Spring 2017, I took a clerkship, with partner Danielle Curtis, at local civil litigation firm Curtis Walton Law. Ms. Curtis entrusts her clerk with the majority of drafting all litigation and correspondence. Without the primer of CU's Philosophy program, I would have floundered in the steep learning curve of legal writing. Instead, Ms. Curtis was impressed with how the CU Philosophy department groomed their students for legal clerkships. Upon acceptance to Brooklyn Law School, she and I agreed I should seek another CU Philosophy graduate as my replacement. I believe any aspiring attorney at CU should highly consider the Philosophy Law and Society track."
John Helsel graduated from Furman University with a double major in Philosophy and Physics in 2011, and from CU Boulder with an MA in Philosophy in 2015. He then completed a Master's degree in the Civil Engineering Department at the University of Texas at Austin with a focus on regional travel modeling. Since graduating, he has worked as a data scientist at WSP, currently serving as the travel demand manager on the California High Speed Rail project. He says, “I have been surprised at how almost all of my graduate courses from CU have been useful over the past three years. For instance, I received a two-year Eisenhower graduate fellowship from FHWA to write on how concern for environmental justice should inform our policy decisions for toll roads; my thesis received the 2018 Charley V. Wootan Award for the outstanding paper in the field of policy and organization at the Transportation Research Board meeting this past January. Graeme Forbes' modal logic class has made relational databases much easier to grasp at an intuitive level. And on a personal level, my experience in philosophy is intriguing to my colleagues with technical backgrounds and it has started a number of wonderful conversations." John also believes that having a degree in philosophy got him a lot more interest on the job market in engineering than a more traditional engineering background would have, and adds that engineering managers really value someone who writes well.
In the photo above, Taylor is second from the left, in a session with Janet Napolitano, former Secretary of Homeland Security from 2009-2013 under President Obama, and president of the University of California system since 2013.
Taylor Mangan graduated from CU in 2015 with Honors magna cum laude for her thesis on the morality of the death penalty. She is currently studying for her JD at UCLA, where she is co-chair of the Disability Law Society. Among her numerous achievements at UCLA, she has become a member of the Board of Governors for the LGBT Bar Association of Los Angeles, and has assisted in founding, on behalf of UCLA, the pioneering publication Disability Law Journal, the first of its kind in the USA. She spent the summer of 2017 working for the Legal Aid Society of Hawaii in Honolulu.
Amber (Arnold) McKonly received her bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from the University of Washington in 2008, and then completed her master’s degree in Philosophy at CU Boulder in 2010. In 2017, she earned her law degree magna cum laude from the University of San Diego School of Law. Amber is an associate attorney at the prestigious international law firm of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP. Her background in Philosophy made law school somewhat easier than it might otherwise have been (though still plenty difficult) thanks to years reading and honing her persuasive writing skills, but most importantly, it made her a better human by forcing her to reflect on her beliefs and the reasons for them. She still reads Philosophy when she finds herself with spare time.
Martín Chamorro earned a BA in Philosophy and Graphic Design at California State University Sacramento in 2005, and then earned a PhD in Philosophy here at the University of Colorado at Boulder in 2012, with a dissertation in political philosophy "A Theory of Just Immigration Policy" with Prof. Claudia Mills. He was the winner in 2011 of the Gary Stahl Prize, awarded each year by the Department to a graduate student for combining scholarship in philosophy with community leadership. Martín is one of the co-founders of BigSIS Inc., a Boulder-based company that has become a leading solution for independent schools around the world, offering a customizable student information system to manage all the administrative and record-keeping needs for schools (https://bigsis.com/).
Eileen Sherman graduated with a BA in Philosophy from CU Boulder in 2015. She is a second year at Berkeley Law and will graduate in 2018. She spent last summer as a clerk at the California Attorney General's office and will be a summer associate in litigation at the Northern California branch of the firm Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher and Flom.
Eileen says her Philosophy degree has been invaluable in law school, and credits some of her professors in the department for being some of her greatest role models to this day.
Flor Jasmin Torres
Marshall McStraw graduated with a BA in philosophy from CU-Boulder in 2015. He won the Charles Evans Hughes Scholarship (a full merit scholarship) to go to Cornell Law School and graduated in Spring 2018. He was an intern at the Jefferson County DA's Office in the summer of 2017, and is now clerking for a judge in the Second Judicial District Court, Denver, working on criminal cases.
Alex Tsankov graduated from CU in 2016 with a BA in Philosophy and Computer Science. Since then, he has been working locally on a number of projects that pull heavily from each field. He believes that some of the most interesting and important questions of the 21st century lie at the intersection of these two disciplines. His current interests are in machine learning, tech policy, functional programming, and blockchain currency, all of which are motivated by a synthesis of both passions.
Josh Lannin and Lynn Acker Lannin
Josh Lannin and Lynn Acker Lannin were both philosophy majors at CU-Boulder, graduating in 1996 and 1997 respectively. Josh is now a Senior Director of Product Management for Workday, a cloud application software provider for HR and finance that is used by thousands of large enterprises around the world. Josh specializes in fostering innovation in the areas of mobile collaboration and social productivity tools for business, where software is impacting the ways people work together. Lynn is the Vice President of Professional Services at Vertiba, a Salesforce.com consulting firm that is now a part of Publicis.Sapient. She works with her clients to design and build highly specialized applications on the Salesforce.com platform. Lynn has spent 16 years as a technology consultant after earning her Master of Science in Telecommunications, also from CU-Boulder. Josh and Lynn live in Boulder, Colorado. They have two children, Sydney, age 10 and Sienna, age 9. They gave the philosophy department commencement address on May 6, 2016, and emphasized how invaluable and important their training in logic and philosophy was to their future careers; you can view the address here.
Kendy M. Hess is a 2009 graduate of our PhD program in philosophy. She started life as a lawyer, getting a JD from Harvard Law School, and practicing corporate environmental law for fifteen years (ten in Chicago and five in Boulder), focusing on brownfields redevelopment, mergers and acquisitions, and compliance. But she wanted to pursue philosophy, first by getting an MA in Liberal Studies from Northwestern University and then by coming to Boulder to do her PhD, with a dissertation arguing that corporations qualify as moral agents in their own right, and thus have moral obligations.
She is now the Brake Smith Associate Professor of Social Philosophy and Ethics at the College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit liberal arts college in Worcester, MA. She teaches ethics and political philosophy with a special focus on the environment and contemporary business practice. Kendy has continued to work with the project begun in her dissertation, developing a metaphysically robust conception of group agency that supports the imposition of traditional moral obligations on business firms and other highly organized groups. She has published in Philosophical Studies, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, Midwest Studies in Philosophy, Georgetown Journal of Law and Public Policy, and Journal of Value Inquiry, among other venues. She is also co-editor with Predrag Cicovacki of Nonviolence as a Way of Life: History, Theory, Practice (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass Publisher 2017). New scholarly projects include exploring contemporary conceptions of work and challenging the increasingly popular idea that firms should be politically active.
David Arcara received a BA in Philosophy from CU Boulder in 1984. After graduating CU he began a career in media, starting out as an advertising sales account executive, first in magazine publishing and then in broadcasting. Indeed, what else is a newly minted philosophy major to do in the business world other than sell space and time!
In all seriousness, sales success necessitates the ability to develop and concisely communicate a logical argument. Philosophy’s literate rigor provides an exceptional skill foundation for such a profession. Mr. Arcara would argue that although quantitative skills are important in business, it is the ability to effectively communicate that propels one to the highest levels of business success.
Mr. Arcara went on to receive his MBA from the Harvard Business School in 1990. He then went on to found three media related companies including a radio station broadcast group, one of the first digital online ad networks, and a custom media content business serving national marketers. In 2010 Mr. Arcara began investing in emerging digital software start-ups, which lead to the 2015 co-founding of the venture capital firm Laconia Capital Group L.P. Based in New York City, he lives with his wife and younger son. His older son is a thriving CU Boulder junior majoring in studio art with a minor in philosophy.
Emma Kobil received a BA in English and in Philosophy at Beloit College, 2008, and then did an MA in Philosophy at CU-Boulder in 2010. She went on to get an MA in Counseling Psychology from CU Denver, and then to become a Licensed Professional Counselor. She has been counseling various populations since 2012, and now works in private practice at Emma Kobil, LLC. Her philosophically informed therapeutic approach focuses on helping creative and perfectionist individuals practice self compassion and create meaning. Learn more about Emma at mindfulcounselingdenver.com.
Kevin Ware graduated in 2010 with a BA in Philosophy from CU-Boulder. He then spent the summer traveling in India before getting a job as a teacher at the first international school in Soran, Iraq. He taught there for a year, then moved to Amman, Jordan, where he worked as a teacher at an international school for two years. While living in Jordan, he had the opportunity to travel all around the Middle East and Europe in between teaching full time. He moved back to the states a year ago when he joined Teach For America. He taught for a year in North Carolina, and am currently teaching in Prince George's County, Maryland, and living in Alexandria, Virginia while getting his Masters in Education from Johns Hopkins University. His fiancée is Marian Hale, fellow graduate from CU-Boulder with a BA in International Affairs and Humanities; she works in the field of democracy and governance, focusing on promoting the rights of marginalized populations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Their wedding is planned for this July in Colorado. They met in a class at CU, and have been together, traveling the world ever since.