Rene Ramirez Class of 2020

"I stumbled into philosophy and fell in love with the variety of thinkers and ideas. ... The community I found in Philosophy at CSUF is irreplaceable."

After gaining admission to several prestigious philosophy graduate programs in the US and Canada, Rene Ramirez, Philosophy Club President and Class of 2020 graduate, has decided to attend graduate school at Loyola University Chicago.

What made you want to attend graduate school?

I stumbled into philosophy and fell in love with the variety of thinkers and ideas. I was excited by the opportunity to study it in greater depth and intensity. However, I only decided to go into graduate school once I learned that there are funded programs which actually pay you to attend. Up to this point I always wanted to earn a MA or a Ph.D. in philosophy but I was deterred by the idea of paying for an additional 4+ years of schooling. Lastly, I really couldn’t imagine my life outside of scholarly work: to me, it feels like one of the few most rewarding and ethical forms of work.

Why did you choose to attend Loyola University Chicago?

Loyola University Chicago was one of the three schools my advisor suggested I apply to apart from my initial list of 10 schools. In all honesty, it wasn’t a university that I had considered in my first round of applications, but I’m so grateful that she suggested it. I had been offered acceptance at Loyola, McGill, University of Nebraska Lincoln, and University Wisconsin-Milwaukee along with a waitlist from Northwestern and Michigan State. Among these choices, Loyola was the first to offer me an on-campus visit, during which I fell in love with the department and opportunities in the Chicago area. For instance, while attending Loyola’s Ph.D. program, it’s possible for me to take courses at Northwestern, DePaul, and University Chicago. So, in short, by accepting Loyola, I gained a network of resources, a supportive community, and a wealth of resources. Additionally, Loyola’s massive array of faculty caters to every facet of my philosophical curiosity. Regardless of how my interests change through coursework, there will always be a faculty member to facilitate my work.

Frantz Fanon

What do you intend to study in graduate school?

At LUC, I will be studying Phenomenology, Decolonial thought, Feminist Philosophy, and Social-Political Philosophy. More specifically, I want to study Frantz Fanon and his contributions to the discipline. Additionally, I want to apply Fanon’s phenomenological analysis of colonialism to contemporary social and political issues.

Looking back on your time at CSUF, what will you remember most?

I think I’ll remember how at-home I felt in my last two years. Initially, I was super alienated in this huge commuter campus. Philosophy is already a small discipline, so it was hard for me to find a community in my major while I was completing my GE’s. But, as I became more involved in my studies, I found peers, professors, and friends who shared my interest. So, in short, what I found the most meaningful were the interactions I had with my peers. From small greetings as we passed each other on the stairs, reading groups we planned and sustained over Zoom, and to study groups for especially tricky classes, the community I found in Philosophy at CSUF is irreplaceable.

What advice would you give to students starting out in philosophy at CSUF?

If you’re starting in philosophy at CSUF, I encourage you to get into an open-mindset for whoever you’re reading. While being critical is an excellent way to gather a clearer understanding of a concept’s limitations or weaknesses, I think criticism comes after loving an idea. Several times in my work at CSUF, I would say that I “disagreed” with an author’s perspective or argument, but in truth, I was just failing to understand it. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t disagree. Sometimes, there are huge problems with philosophical ideas. However, being caught up with proving something or someone wrong can overshadow or distract from constructing an even better idea.