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Alumni Profile: Jenny Phillips

February 19, 2019

When did you graduate and what was your degree?

I graduated in fall 2018 with a double major in classical and Near Eastern studies and philosophy.

Photo of Jenny Phillips.

When did you realize you wanted to study philosophy? Why?

My dad was a philosophy major and did his Ph.D. in mathematical logic. He encouraged me to give philosophy a try, so I decided in my junior year of high school that I would major in philosophy. I have always enjoyed solving puzzles and asking questions!

What philosophical questions were you most interested in as a student? Are you still interested in these kinds of questions?

I really enjoyed questions in ethics and Wittgenstein’s challenges to language and meaning. I still consider questions of what I ought to do every day.

Tell me about an experience or faculty member who had a powerful influence on you.

I completed my honors thesis under Professor Valerie Tiberius. She was a wonderful professor to work with on an honors project and was supportive throughout my undergraduate experience.  

Have your studies in philosophy helped you in your post-college life and career? If so, how?

Philosophy is a major that teaches you historical, analytical, and creative thinking. When I approach a problem now, I am better able to take a step back and ask more thoughtful questions when I am working out a solution. It is a great major for those with historical interests, as you read a broad survey of classic works throughout the ages. This helps me in my career, as I am able to apply my historical knowledge of philosophy to better my business. I am an antiquarian bookseller, and philosophy has helped me know which books to focus on when acquiring inventory for my business.

What are the most important skills that pursuing a degree in philosophy fosters and develops?

Skills in asking questions, analytical thinking, creative problem solving, and critical reading of dense texts. Being able to analyze an argument and find its weak spots is useful as a citizen of a democratic society.

What advice do you have for philosophy students approaching graduation?

Ideally you would pair philosophy with another major. This gives you as many opportunities as possible to apply the skills of philosophy to another field. Law school, graduate school, and non-profit work are all great stepping stones after studying philosophy as an undergraduate. Be creative about how you apply your degree, and know that just because you major in philosophy does not mean you can only be a professor!