Highlights of Alumni Who Majored in Philosophy or Great Books
Meet some of the Saint Anselm College alumni who graduated from the Philosophy or Great Books program!
Hi, everyone! My name is Amelie, and I graduated with a major in Great Books and minors in English and Music in May of 2022. In my time on the hilltop, I was actively engaged in a number of activities, particularly Road for Hope, work at C-Shop, the Philosophy Department, and Academic Advising, and as a frequent participant in whatever random discussion was offered on campus.
Now, I work as a Financial Service Associate at Fidelity Investments in Merrimack, where I assist the employees of our customers with their 401(k) related questions and transactional needs. I NEVER saw myself doing ANYTHING like this. I had always been decent at math, sure, but money? Finances? You've lost me. I can't say I really knew the difference between a 401(k), a mortgage, or the IRS before I started working here. Yep, it was bad. As a result, when I was hired here, I was super terrified and vowed to stay no longer than a year. I could fake it a year, right?
Now, though, I love my job. The finance stuff worked out through the excellent training Fidelity provides. I do see, though, all the ways my Great Books major, and general exposure to the philosophical life in my time at St. A's, has helped me with the other skills that are so crucial to my day to day activities.
Much of my role is participant-facing, so I spend my days communicating different topics, options, regulations, and the like to these participants. They come from incredibly diverse backgrounds with equally diverse needs, and it's my job to help explain everything to them in the most effective manner for them. In order to do so, I also need to know what I'm communicating–no matter how much training you receive, there are always exceptions, and much of my time also goes into trying to decipher confusing plan rules and IRS regulations, and then immediately explaining that same thing that I just figured out myself 2 minutes ago to the participant in a comprehensible and individual way.
Here's where that Great Books major comes in–I'm able to figure out what I need to read, read it, decipher all the confusing jargon in it, then relay it to the participant effectively. And I need to do this while they're still talking to me at the same time. All of those Great Books seminars that required superior reading comprehension to succeed and that demanded that you make your point clearly and succinctly have genuinely given me an advantage in something that, frankly, a lot of my coworkers struggle with.
I suspect I've learned that technical knowledge related to a career can be picked up fairly quickly if you apply yourself, but that those other skills–reading comprehension, effective and individually-tailored communication, empathy, resource utilization, and the like, are universally valuable and can't be taught in a simple 3-month training program.
My parting words, then, would be this: if you're starting that job search and it's absolutely daunting because you suddenly feel unqualified in all those hard skills, take a deep breath. Focus on getting an interview. Your overall poise and intelligence and ability to communicate is going to speak volumes, and the right employer will value those skills and want to train you in any others you may not have. Your time here has been spent gaining much more rare and sought-after commodities than what you'll see on LinkedIn or Indeed. Pitch those!
After graduating from Saint Anselm College, I entered the PACT (Providence Alliance for Catholic Teachers) Program to pursue a Master’s in Education. While taking classes at Providence College, I worked as a full time Social Studies teacher at a middle school in North Attleboro Massachusetts. I graduated with my degree in Secondary Education in May 2018. In September 2018, I began teaching high school at Saint Raphael Academy in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. While working at SRA, I was selected to work with a small group of teachers and a Highlander liaison on developing strategies to better serve our CP (high-risk) students. In August 2021, my husband and I decided to move back home to New Hampshire. I am currently working at Bishop Brady High School in Concord. I teach AP US History, Psychology, and a SNHU dual enrollment World History class.
One of the best decisions of my life was to pursue a degree in Great Books instead of Education. Naturally, I honed my reading, writing, and conversation skills. I was exposed to the historical breadth of human thought, which provided me with a rich knowledge base to supplement my teaching, and I also gained the tools to seek out new sources. I also value the degree because it has made me a better teacher and a wiser person. My approach to teaching is reflective and multifaceted. I incorporate subjects beyond history (or psychology) because I can see how they are all connected. In this way, I am better able to engage more students. My philosophy of teaching also incorporates this holistic approach. I take my students as individuals with the interest of educating the whole person. In college, I learned to be open to new ideas, digest them, and make them my own. The Great Books Program at Saint Anselm College provided me with tools that are essential to living a fulfilled life.
Following graduation from Saint Anselm College with a BA in philosophy, I began my career in the Management Development program with the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic fraternal benefits organization headquartered in New Haven, CT. Shortly after I joined, I was offered a position as a fixed income credit analyst in the Investment Department. While at the Knights I completed two master’s degrees at Fairfield University: an MBA concentrating in management and an MS in finance. After three and a half years with the Knights, I moved to Boston from Connecticut where I joined CAPTRUST, a large RIA based in Raleigh, NC in a role supporting the office’s wealth advisors. Within months of joining, I transitioned to a corporate role, and am now a full-time equity analyst making recommendations to various financial advisors throughout the country and will be transferring to the San Antonio office in January, shortly after my two-year anniversary with the firm.
I began my undergraduate journey wandering. Starting as an accounting major, I knew that I wanted to do something practical to pay the bills, but I yearned for deeper understanding of the world and what makes it tick. After taking intro to philosophy during the first semester of my sophomore year, I was hooked. So much time and energy is often paid to knowing specific facts and rules. Philosophy offers something different; it offers something far more valuable. By majoring in philosophy, I learned how to think critically and empathetically in various contexts. I learned what it meant to be human in our world. I grew to know God more fervently and intimately. Most importantly, by majoring in philosophy, I learned to know myself. These priceless gifts were cultivated by countless hours of immersion with brilliant, caring, and devoted faculty members in the classroom and beyond class hours. I am so very grateful for my education in philosophy because there is always somebody behind the keyboard, and there are always lives behind the numbers on a 10K. The journey of examining our world and the role we play in it is nothing short of exhausting, but I’m sure that life would be quite lackluster without the toil.
The most rewarding decision I made in my academic career was choosing to major in the Great Books Program. That choice has granted me an enriching and multifaceted experience across different industries post-graduation. As an undergrad, my fellow majors and I were privileged to delve into extensive literary works, which served as our primary source material for engaging conversations and intellectually charged debates.
I worked in retail as a student and had a GM that placed a strong focus on relationship building. If we could make connections with people then they would keep walking through our door instead of any other business. The Great Books seminars were a fantastic way to practice this concept of verbal connection – we discussed large bodies of complex texts and related them to our current lives, aspirations, pursuits, etc. Debate and discussion in class sharpened my comprehension and listening skills. Most importantly, it honed my capacity for conversational learning, a skill that motivated customers to share their interests more freely at work.
After graduation, these skills directly contributed to my growth as a manager. I chose to make a career change into a financial role explaining 401k plans to participants across the country from various careers, backgrounds, and different levels of financial literacy. Reading large bodies of text and explaining them became a daily necessity! That eventually led to a position writing Requests for Proposals and supporting a sales team by explaining the services of our financial firm within the context of business-to-business writing.
I made later career changes and ventured into masonry and real estate, both of which brought me into direct contact with people from all walks of life. My ability to converse fluently with people from diverse social, economic, intellectual, and cultural circles can be directly attributed to my time studying Great Books. Currently, I hold the position of Director of Operations at a company providing services to Real Estate Brokerages. This role keeps me in continuous contact with different agents and clients who have various levels of proficiency and comfort in navigating the real estate sales process. My proficiency in being able to communicate with anyone continues to pay dividends!
As a freshman, I really wanted to know what jobs would come after earning my degree. It was frustrating hearing “any job you want” because I was looking for a clear career trajectory. Now, as a graduate who still hasn’t pinpointed their ultimate career destination, I’m continuously grateful for the skillset I gathered at Saint Anselm that has prepared me to adapt and thrive in any direction, especially when life veers away from the intended path. My life has not always gone according to plan and my ability to learn and change has made the unpredictability of the path fruitful and enjoyable.