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Philosophy | Selected Alumni Profiles

Mariana Alessandri

After earning my BA, I spent a couple of years in California volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. In 2002, I decided I wanted to pursue a master's in philosophy and social policy at American University. One attraction of AU's program was that the program was exclusively for master's students, which was ideal for me because I was not sure I wanted to go on for a PhD. What I most liked about the department at AU was that it was joined with the religious studies program, and both fields were of interest to me. Also, the requirement of an internship in social policy was great for me because it connected me to the Latino community in D.C. The professors at AU are totally dedicated to students, and the classes are excellent. In sum, I learned a lot at AU, and the MA was a big help in getting into a PhD program.

John Fantuzzo 

Having received an MA degree in philosophy and social policy from AU, I'm most grateful for the opportunity to have worked with the professors in this department. None of them supported an identical vision of philosophy; yet all of the them demonstrated that the practice of philosophy is something more than the dull preservation of an academic subject ("some dead piece of furniture," as Fichte put it). The professors at AU showed me that philosophy involves a tireless pursuit of vital questions. What lesson did I learn from working with this eclectic group of exceptional scholars--all pursuing vital questions in deviant directions--while generously helping me to recognize (and clarify) my own? Most significantly, I took to heart the lesson that philosophical questions are intimately involved with an excellent education. After receiving my MA, this lesson encouraged me to become a public school teacher in Washington, D.C. As a teacher, the lesson was confirmed. Presently, in a doctoral program, this lesson encourages me to track questions: questions that involve the putative boundaries of educational excellence, and appear to sail like thrown rocks.

Jeremy Harchelroad

I simply could not have chosen a better university for my graduate degree. I was initially nervous since I hadn't taken many philosophy courses before starting the program, but by the end of the first semester I learned that my concerns were unfounded and that the department welcomes individuals of diverse backgrounds and interests. I quickly found my niche in the department and was encouraged by all my professors to pursue those issues of greatest interest to me. My qualifying paper experience, while no doubt slightly intimidating at first, was one of the best opportunities for intellectual and personal growth that I have experienced throughout my academic career. My faculty mentors took the time to understand my thoughts on a given project and provided just the right amount of feedback and constructive criticism to push my ideas to new places that were previously unimaginable. In short, I could not be happier with my experience at AU. As I enter my final semester, I only hope to maintain the relationships with my fellow students and the university faculty that I have built over the past few years as I carry the skills gained with me into my future endeavors.

Haley Maria Stevens

The prospect of mastering a worthwhile and complicated subject matter steeped in the traditions of continental philosophy made American University's Philosophy MA program a profoundly consequential and rewarding decision for me. The attentive faculty and collegiality of peers gave way to an extraordinary and enriching experience. Since graduating, I have pursued a career in national politics, economic policy and economic development, having served on the presidential campaigns of 2008 and in the presidential administration of Barack Obama at the U.S. Department of the Treasury and U.S Department of Commerce. Why philosophy and how did philosophy serve me? I was schooled in learning how to analyze and connect complex thoughts thoroughly and quickly. I was taught how to see connections within a mix of variables, which has formed my ability to successfully understand and execute complex projects. Finally, I had the chance to absorb fully and learn from inspiring material that I continue to draw from to this day. No other graduate education would have buoyed and encouraged my career as did the unique and competitive opportunity offered through the MA in Philosophy and Social Policy program at American University.