Letters to the editor

Article inspires reflection on life

I’m moved to write because of the thoughts and memories stirred up by the article “The big question: What can you do with a philosophy degree?” in the fall issue of the magazine.
While I don’t remember the name of the man who taught “Philosophy and Logic” (1950–1954), I do recall the incredible excitement I felt during his classes and in conversations during, after and between classes.
Until I read this article, however, I had never reflected on the impact being a philosophy major has had on my life. (How quickly marriage and children took precedence in the ’50s.)
There are habits and skills I learned as a philosophy major at Wheaton that I’ve drawn on whether I was raising children, working in various jobs, being married (and not being married), and, in a final and most important sense, facing aging.
When I graduated—and became engaged to marry soon after—I recall my dad saying, “now what?” He was disappointed that I hadn’t prepared to earn a living teaching or something else. I wish he were still around to see the article.
Better than any of what he wanted for me, I had been prepared to live a full and rich life. Prepared to keep learning; to think for myself; to recognize opportunities when they arose; to discuss and argue cogently; to read for the richness of the experience and the joy of it; and to be resilient through whatever life brought to me.
And at 83, I’m still doing it.
Thanks again for a fabulous article—and thanks to all the young people who shared their thoughts and experiences.
—Anita Bunis Goldstein ’54

Good question

I was a philosophy major way back in 1965, and just let out a huge guffaw when I picked up the Wheaton Quarterly from my mailbox a few minutes ago. “What can you do with a philosophy degree?” That is exactly what my parents said in 1964!
I used my degree (along with a master’s degree in library science) to work in a number of libraries, including Wheaton’s, and as a sales and marketing specialist. I also worked with my second husband to grow two businesses—manufacturing and self-storage.
I have lived in interesting times. I believe my philosophy degree enabled me to roll with life’s surprises.
—Susan Sheppard Norris ’65

Major envy

Thank you for answering the question “What can you do with a philosophy degree?” The entries by former students are so varied, as are their careers, but are similar in crediting their philosophy major with sharpening their thinking and analytic skills, and helping in their job searches and successes, making it a practical major after all, in addition to keeping their brain cells stimulated. I took two one-semester courses in philosophy at Wheaton, but the article makes me want to go back to college all over again and major in that subject.
—Caryl Kolbert Pines Curry ’52

Philosophy degree led to many, varied opportunities

I read with great amusement the article “What can you do with a philosophy degree?” in the fall 2016 issue of the magazine.
Although I didn’t graduate from Wheaton (I only attended for my first two years, graduating in 1981 from UC Berkeley), Wheaton introduced me to philosophy, especially political theory. And, yes, to this day, I love to tell people that I have a degree in political theory.
What did I do with my degree, you might ask. Given that there weren’t too many job postings with calls for “philosophers,” I found great jobs with titles like: licensed commercial fisherman (Alaska), director of cultural affairs (San Francisco), executive director of the American Institute of Architects (San Francisco), magazine editor, exhibition curator, Stanford University seminar instructor, mom and wife.
What kinds of things have I done with that degree? Preserved the largest arts colony in the U.S.; founded one of the largest architectural festivals in the country; taught dozens of university students; written dozens of articles on design, politics and architecture.
After decades of activism, I credit philosophy with my strong writing and thinking skills and a firm sense of morality. I’ve hired lots of people over the last three and a half decades, and I can assure you, philosophy grads always get interviewed (and usually hired).
—Margie O’Driscoll

Thank you for addressing cancer

I want to thank Professor Jennifer Lanni for her work and for her First-Year Seminar “Cancer Through a Historical Lens.” The fall issue of the magazine Q&A with her was educational and most interesting. The subject matter is especially important to me since I have survived, and thrived, since 2008 aggressive radiation and chemotherapy treatment for a cancer that kicked me to the curb.
That 40 percent of the population will be diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lifetime is unwelcome news, but hardly a surprise. The fact that Professor Lanni is addressing this with young people is significant and appreciated.
—Judith Kirshenbaum Felton Logue ’63