Carroll College, Helena Montana

Alumni Success

Alumni Success

Jessica Knapp, Class of 2015

Currently studying in Siena, Italy.

Taylor Peliska, Class of 2014

Taylor Peliska

After graduation, I worked for a year in the marketing and advertising department at a small, Catholic, liberal arts school in south Florida called Ave Maria University.

I found very quickly that my skills as both a technical and logical cohesive writer, skills that I attribute directly to my work in reading and writing philosophy, are more rare and valuable than I had realized during school.

I chose philosophy because I enjoyed struggling through questions that were way beyond my intellectual capabilities. Additionally, I enjoyed the kind of thinking that philosophical inquisition and discourse requires and how the more philosophical thought reveals about the world, the more it shows you how little you actually know.

Currently I am working in Gambia with the Peace Corps.

Mark J. McLean, Class of 2013

Mark McLeanAfter receiving a B.A. in Philosophy and French from Carroll College in 2013 and my M.A. in Philosophy from KU Leuven in Leuven, Belgium in September 2015, I am currently enrolled in the the MPhil program at KU Leuven (a preliminary to the doctorate program).

The value in philosophy as nothing to do with the degree, but rather resides in one’s ability to grasp, articulate, and challenge perspectives in order to further the apprehension of (academic) philosophical discourse. Philosophy is often looked upon as a kind of ‘self-improvement’ degree. It shows that one has a developed sense of critical and analytical skills in their ability to approach problematic situations or projects. As for my own professional path, a degree in philosophy has helped me in developing and manipulating my teaching skills as well as allowed me to further my pursuit of academic philosophy.

For students in philosophy, the best advice I could give would be to learn how to say what you are trying to articulate by using your own words rather than some author’s philosophical jargon. You will find that this is easier said than done. Most importantly, be open to the conversation even if you are vehemently opposed to the other’s position. There is more to learn by hearing someone through in their argumentation, than by disregarding their initial claim as nonsensical or useless in light of your own stance.

Philosophy cannot stand-alone. This is why I would encourage any student in philosophy to pair it with another degree or study. Alongside the sciences and the arts, philosophy criticizes and analyzes their developing definitions, techniques, methods, and styles. With this, philosophy gives us just enough of an edge to stand upon, and, during these brief moments of footing, we are able to orient ourselves before we take our next grand leap towards those profound depths of understanding.

Nathan Pawelek, Class of 2013

PawelekI graduated from Carroll in 2013, majoring in Philosophy and Theology with a minor in Classical Studies.

Right after graduation I took a high school teaching position at St. Andrew School in Helena. For two years I taught high school theology courses including Catholicism, Scriptures, Catholic Social Doctrine and Moral Theology. I also taught American Literature and Classical Literature, Latin, Algebra and Speech. Subsequently, I made a bit of a career change and I’m currently the Human Resources Manager for a company in Helena called Pioneer Aerostructures. One day I hope to continue my education and eventually get a Ph.D., however, right now I’m enjoying Montana and my career in HR.

While at Carroll I had the opportunity to study abroad in Siena, Italy. This was one of the greatest experiences I had during my time in college and I would tell every student at Carroll, no matter what their major is, to study abroad. Even though I now call Helena my home, I love traveling and can’t wait to make it back to Europe.

I would tell students in philosophy to be open minded in their studies, firm in their beliefs, and to always seek understanding in truth. Philosophy is just what it means – it’s to love wisdom, seek truth, and crave learning. It’s more than just a major in college, it’s a way of life.

There is much value in a degree in philosophy. Philosophy has allowed me to be more open minded when approaching other world views and cultures. It has allowed me to think logically and critically through the challenges that life presents. Most of all it has allowed me to strengthen my beliefs as I seek to better understand the world around me.

Alex Woelkers, Class of 2008

woelkersI graduated in 2008 with a double major in Theology and Philosophy and minor in Mathematics. My honors thesis was in theology: The Theology of John Ziziuoulas: Contributions to Anthropology.

Since graduating from Carroll I have been a high school theology and math teacher, worked at a residential treatment program for severely emotionally disturbed children, volunteered working at a mission school in Guatemala for one year, finished my MA in systematic theology (my thesis was about St. Irenaeus’ treatment of human flesh), and most recently, spent almost six months volunteering at a boys’ orphanage in Jinja, Uganda.

Although I thought that I had ‘double majored’ in unemployment, I have found that the serious study of the human person through philosophy and theology has actually made me extremely attractive to the people I have wanted to work for and work with—you can teach anyone technical skills or professional practices on the job,but you can’t teach them to think. If someone already knows how to think well, they can learn anything.

My advice to philosophy students is, first of all, to enjoy the beauty and truth of philosophy. Secondly, don’t be fooled into trying to decide which philosopher is right or wrong, or whether you agree or disagree—seek first to truly understand a philosopher: what they say, why they say it, who they are saying it to, and when they said (give a fair historical reading!). You will learn much more this way, and be far less frustrated.

Read Alex's complete thoughts on the value of an education in Philosophy from Carroll College.

John Gleaves, Class of 2006

John Gleaves

John Gleaves, PhD graduated Maximum Cum Laude from Carroll College in 2006 with a majors in both Philosophy and Theology and a minor in History. He was also a member of the Honors Scholars program. In 2007, John enrolled directly into the Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Kinesiology doctoral program in the History and Philosophy of Sport. In 2011, he successfully defended his doctoral thesis and became an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the California State University Fullerton. In 2015, CSUF awarded John early promotion and tenure as an associate professor.

Read more about John's career and time at Carroll College

Alex Woelkers, Class of 2008

I graduated in 2008 with a double major in Theology and Philosophy and minor in Mathematics. My honors thesis was in theology: The Theology of John Ziziuoulas: Contributions to Anthropology.

Since graduating from Carroll I have been a high school theology and math teacher, worked at a residential treatment program for severely emotionally disturbed children, volunteered working at a mission school in Guatemala for one year, finished my MA in systematic theology (my thesis was about St. Irenaeus’ treatment of human flesh), and most recently, spent almost six months volunteering at a boys’ orphanage in Jinja, Uganda.

woelkers

In the future I hope to continue my study of Catholic anthropology, which (as I learned from my professors at Carroll) demands serious attention to both the philosophical and theological approaches to the Church’s doctrine, especially as it was articulated at the Second Vatican Council and after, and the application of this anthropology to current questions and situations in our world. In the future I hope to both study more theology and philosophy and to be able to continue my service work in the third world, either as a volunteer or in a paid position with a Catholic organization.

It has been my experience that the Church’s vision of the human person offers us the fundamental values necessary for truly integral human development. This Catholic anthropological vision needs to seriously and positively engage the questions and perspectives of our contemporary world in order to raise cultures to a more human level where dignity, freedom, and truth truly order society. Nowhere is this more true than in those societies and communities that are most underdeveloped, underprivileged and marginalized. To bring holistic development to individuals, families, communities, and societies that are so oppressed by the cycle of poverty, only an elevation of the culture alongside the development of economic and political opportunity can produce development that is truly human: that results in a more human existence for those who are de-humanized by poverty. My theological and philosophical engagement with the ideas about the human person and their effects in our world has always compelled me to put the Church’s anthropology into practice by serving those who are in greatest need and living in solidarity with those whose humanity is most diminished and dismissed in our world. In between studying and teaching It has been my joy to volunteer in places like Guatemala, Haiti, India, Uganda, Dominican Republic, Kenya, Rwanda, Mexico, and of course, here in the US.

Although the Church’s anthropology is unequivocally theological, it engages Catholics in a discussion with the world that is truly philosophical, and for this reason I am profoundly grateful for the philosophical training I received at Carroll. My degree in philosophy taught me to think well, to write well, and to read well—which is one of the greatest gifts anyone could receive. Beyond that, the disciplines of philosophy that my professors at Carroll modeled and formed have instilled in me an attitude of intellectual charity: a humility that understand that every perspective holds some element of truth that can contribute to an integral humanism and can to that degree can resonate with whatever is authentically Catholic. My philosophical training made me value the capacity for meaningful engagement with any serious human perspective, a reverence for truth rather than ideology, and a preference for dialogue over self-justification.

As the post- Vatican II popes keep calling the Church to renew and deepen our sense that every Catholic is fundamentally called to a missionary vocation, I find myself grateful time and time again for the way my philosophy prepared me to turn outward to the ideas, cultures, and people who are leading in our time rather than looking inward. This has made me a more dynamic and faithful Catholic, and to love the beauty and truth of the Church and her vision of the person more and not less, because to turn outward toward others is precisely the call of the Gospel.

This is the fundamental hermeneutic of the Christian life, and the key to understanding rightly the Church’s life and teaching (is this not precisely what Pope Francis keeps reminding us?)—and for this reason the Church’s mission is strengthened wherever philosophy is practiced in earnest— this has certainly been my experience. If the Church seriously believes that we are saved through the incarnation and Paschal mystery of God-made-man, then salvation must mean the truly integral development of the human person. That is a serious claim—it is based on faith in the revelation of Jesus Christ and is thus properly theological, yet to offer the fruits of this claim to the world is to engage in a philosophical exercise: an exercise of not just speaking the truth but witnessing to it by the way we treat others, especially the poorest. That gets me excited, and makes me so grateful to be wading through a post-modern world with not only a strong Catholic faith but also a strong formation in the practice of reason (philosophy, that is).

How has philosophy helped me?

Although I thought that I had ‘double majored’ in unemployment, I have found that the serious study of the human person through philosophy and theology has actually made me extremely attractive to the people I have wanted to work for and work with—you can teach anyone technical skills or professional practices on the job,but you can’t teach them to think. If someone already knows how to think well, they can learn anything...

More importantly if someone has a strong vision of the human person, is self-reflective in a positive way, and holds strong and intelligent values about what makes for truly human existence, that person is prepared to offer much more to their work and the people around them than simply the ‘product’ they produce: they will invest in what they believe in and in the people around them. In my experience, this has led me to be extremely successful in jobs I was ‘hopelessly underprepared for’ and to be extremely appreciated by the people I worked with.

What is philosophy?

I think philosophy is the art of asking right questions and in the right way. In a world where so many foolishly seek a right answer, a quick or convenient answer, an easy answer, or a self-serving answer; we are easily blinded to the fact that it is the questions we must get right if we are to be wise— any answer to a unwise question is a foolish answer, no matter how right or wrong it may be.

Albert Einstein once said something akin to this “A question cannot be answered on the same level of consciousness from whence it is raised”. Philosophy is about seeking wise questions, and then learning to use our reason not to justify answers but to raise our level of consciousness to a new level that capable of more wisdom than what we possess. That is the way of entering into a mystery... and philosophy above all is about the recognition of reason’s power to enter into the mystery of reality, but not to possess or circumscribe that mystery. That is why philosophy seeks truth and wisdom, where all the other sciences can only seek knowledge.

My advice to philosophy students

My advice to philosophy students is, first of all, to enjoy the beauty and truth of philosophy. Secondly, don’t be fooled into trying to decide which philosopher is right or wrong, or whether you agree or disagree—seek first to truly understand a philosopher: what they say, why they say it, who they are saying it to, and when they said (give a fair historical reading!). You will learn much more this way, and be far less frustrated.

Also, be grateful that you are able to study at a Catholic philosophy department—even if you are the farthest thing from Catholic (whatever that is, I am not sure I can say), the Catholic foundations of this school make it truly value philosophy for all that it is without needing to make it into something it is not- let this not be lost on you.

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John Gleaves, Class of 2006

John Gleaves, PhD graduated Maximum Cum Laude from Carroll College in 2006 with a majors in both Philosophy and Theology and a minor in History. He was also a member of the Honors Scholars program. In 2007, John enrolled directly into the Pennsylvania State University’s Department of Kinesiology doctoral program in the History and Philosophy of Sport. In 2011, he successfully defended his doctoral thesis and became an assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology at the California State University Fullerton. In 2015, CSUF awarded John early promotion and tenure as an associate professor.

In addition to his educational achievements, John has received numerous awards and professional leadership roles for his research in the area of performance-enhancing drugs in sport. In 2010, John received the North American Society for Sport History’s Graduate Student Essay Award. As a professor, John has been awarded the CSUF’s College of Health and Human Development Faculty Scholar Award and received CSUF’s 2015 “Titan’s on the Rise” Early Career scholar award. He is also currently the Co-director for the International Network for Doping Research and the Center for Sociocultural Sport and Olympic Research. He serves as the Associate Editor for the international peer-reviewed journal Performance Enhancement and Health. In 2015, the members of the International Association for the Philosophy of Sport elected John the IAPS’s Conference Chair.

John attributes much of his professional success to the skills and learning that took place at Carroll. “Not only do I use the content I learned in my philosophy course work,” John explains, “But the skills—critical thinking, inquiry into large problems, debate with peers—have let me be successful in my professional career.” Additionally, John believes that philosophy provided a foundation that allowed him to adapt to new content areas. Now a professor of kinesiology, John finds that many of the problems he researches require the breadth of philosophy’s content areas. “It is amazing when you sit down with scientists, engineers, and lawyers to find that philosophy has much to say about the problems they are currently considering.”

John also finds that Carroll’s sense of service and mission continue to inspire his desire to educate. As a faculty member at California State University, Fullerton, John enjoys working with the campus’ diverse student body, many of whom are the first in their family to attend college. He annually takes twenty students to Greece for a study abroad course on the Olympic Games. He also serves as a faculty mentor for historically underrepresented minority students and is part of his campus’ LGBTQ Ally program.

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Why Major in Philosophy at Carroll?

Whether you plan to start a career after graduation or continue your education in law, philosophy, theology or another field, Carroll will prepare you to succeed. US News and World Report placed Carroll:

  • #1 in their 2016 Regional Colleges West rankings
  • #1 in their 2016 Regional Colleges West Best Value Schools rankings
  • #1 in their 2016 Best Regional College in the West for Veterans rankings

With an impressive 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio and modest class sizes, Carroll offers students the opportunity to establish close relationships with their instructors and receive individualized attention from professors who maintain a sincere interest in their students’ achievements.