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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. Finally, I am convinced that my MA helped me get accepted to two PhD programs. I also think the MA helped me get my Fulbright to Salamanca, Spain, where I studied at the Casa-Museo de Unamuno. Since earning my Ph.D., I have published academic articles in the APA newsletter on Hispanic/Latino Issues in Philosophy, The Inter-American Journal of Philosophy, and Philosophy Today, as well as public philosophy articles for the New York Times, the Chronicle of Higher Education, and Yahoo Parenting. I still have strong connections to AU, and these ties are invaluable for my career and my life.

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.

Aaron Rogoff

While pursuing a 5th year MA in philosophy and social policy at American after completing my undergraduate work, I was able to take several classes related to bioethics. I found it extremely helpful that the joint BA/MA made it possible to focus on an area of applied philosophy after I had established a foundation in moral philosophy and epistemology. Being in DC also allowed me to build professional experience during my Master's at the leading accrediting organization for institutional research ethics boards. Upon completing my Master's I moved to New York, where I worked in research ethics at the NYU Langone Medical Center for a year. I have since decided to pursue a JD at Columbia Law School with the aim of practicing health care law after graduating. As a law student, I am extremely grateful for the time and attention that my philosophy professors at AU gave to teaching me how to write carefully and think through theoretically problems critically and thoroughly. I have also been struck by how frequently questions of political philosophy are implicated when considering judicial doctrines across my law school classes. In approaching a career in the law, which is so closely tied to public and social policy, I cannot contemplate navigating the professional choices ahead of me without the thoughtful work that I did in philosophy.

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.