Alumni Profile - Travis
1 - How has your degree from BYU-Idaho affected/influenced you in your career? Additionally, how has your degree influenced your life in general?
My degree taught me how to balance the demands of completing challenging work on a deadline, thriving in team/group environments, and ensuring that I think critically about the best possible way of completing a task. Both in working after undergrad and in law school, my degree has continued to fuel my passion for learning. I am a better learner because of the skills my degree has afforded me, and this helps me stay curious, learn about things, in my leisure time, I didn't have a chance to in college, and develop new skills more effectively.
2 - Why did you decide to major in Humanities?
I was originally a Political Science major and found that the subject matter was too narrow and didn't allow me the broad field of study I craved. Becoming a Humanities major and Philosophy minor made it possible to have a broad range of study, yet still study political philosophy/theory, which originally drew me to the Political Science major. The Humanities major allowed me the excitement of going from one class where we discussed Aristophanes' Red-Figure vase paintings to another where we argued the virtues and vices of establishing a Utopian society to yet another class where we tried to solve the problem of consciousness. I chose the major (and minor) to learn a lot about a lot of things.
3 - Of what value is your Humanities degree to you?
While I've never needed to distinguish between the Hellenistic and Classical periods of Greek art or defend David Chalmers' Type-F Monism in the workplace or in law school, the skills to do so translate practically. My degree taught me how to untangle challenging problems, distinguish between ideas that would be good for the company and ideas that would be best for the company, and to think outside of the box-a quality many of my colleagues who don't have liberal arts backgrounds struggle to master. In my experience, most jobs, and certainly grad schools, train you to do a specific thing, but your ability to learn that thing effectively and quickly, and then enhance and refine it, is infinitely easier with the skills the Humanities major provides.
4 - What advice would you give to upcoming Humanities majors/Philosophy minors?
I regret not caring to learn how to effectively translate my theoretical, abstract skills developed in the major to pragmatic, marketable skills. It's okay to come down from the ivory tower and get your hands dirty, as it were. If you're planning on graduate or professional school, start planning and preparing to take the admissions exams (GRE, LSAT, GMAT) earlier than you think you should. Having a good score will make your life much easier. Consider coupling the Humanities major with the Philosophy minor (or the Philosophy minor with any major). I found that studying philosophy complemented by understanding of the humanities, and vice-versa, in a way that helped me excel in both fields of study. Lastly, come prepared to feast. The professors in the Humanities and Philosophy department are inspiring, learned, and willing to mentor and advise you. Take the opportunity to go to office hours and challenge ideas and work through hard problems. Some of the most fulfilling moments of my undergraduate career were spent in the offices of professors, whom I respected, debating the merits of one idea over another. The Humanities and Philosophy department is a place of great debate and learning-take advantage of it!