Alumni Updates



Ryan Kemp, 2022

Job description

Currently attending my second year in law school.

What would you say to prospective students who are thinking about applying to this program? 

Choose this program if you are interested in honing in on critical thinking skills and want to have a better understanding of the human condition and the problems of the world. You will learn new and interesting ways of thinking that will help you later on in your life, no matter what you choose to do post graduation. The skills that you have learned from studying philosophy will help you become a well rounded human being and a better thinker.

Juan Cervantes, 2022

Job description
The Humboldt County Office of Elections administers Federal, State, and Local Elections for residents of Humboldt County. As an Election Specialist in a small and agile office, I have a variety of roles. I create and administer poll worker training, research and convey election-related codes and regulations, support poll workers on election day with guidance and troubleshooting, and oversee election equipment's programming, security, and maintenance. The job is equal parts understanding systems, regulations, and on-the-fly problem-solving.
Employer: County of Humboldt

What would you say to prospective students who are thinking about applying to this program?

A degree in Philosophy is about much more than figuring out whether you exist or whether space-time is like a loaf of bread. A degree in Philosophy will make you a skilled communicator because if you can explain just a tiny part of Hegel succinctly in a 5-page paper, well, you can explain just about anything. It will make you a better problem solver. Logic puzzles are about more than memorizing processes. If you get them down, they’ll help you form better search queries needed when conducting research and craft cleaner excel formulas. The discourse that you’ll have arguing over trolly strategies will offer insights that will empower you to live life in a way that is true to the person you want to be in the society you want to help create. That seminar in Stoicism will give you the resiliency tools you’ll need to get through that 60-hour workweek slog during crunch time. A lot can be spoken of when engaging in theoretical Philosophy. You’ll be inundated with it in academia, but where I think Philosophy truly shines is in its application.

Shmuel Gomes, 2022

Job description
I'm doing my PhD in philosophy at UC Riverside, focusing my studies on ethics and moral psychology. I began my first year with a fellowship, and now work in the department as a teaching assistant and associate instructor. Topics that I am exploring in my current research include theories of why we, human beings, warrant moral concern, what other types of creatures warrant moral concern, and the basis of moral agency.
Employer: University of California, Riverside
How did this program prepare you for your job?

HSU's philosophy program gave me a strong foundation in the history of Western philosophy, which has proven essential to my current studies as a graduate student. It also acquainted me with philosophical traditions outside of Western philosophy, which, in turn, has allowed me to approach contemporary philosophy from a range of different perspectives. Additionally, the "soft skills" that I developed by studying philosophy - such as critical thinking and clear communication - have served me well in research and writing positions that I held before beginning my PhD.

Michelle Nilan, 2022

Job description
I work with clients all over the world to help them heal chronic skin rashes and gut issues, primarily through analyzing and addressing dysbiosis in the gut microbiome and nutrient deficiencies. I focus on addressing root causes rather than merely alleviating symptoms.
Employer: Jennifer Fugo, MS, CNS, LDN
Employer website:
How did this program prepare you for your job?
I gained invaluable insight into the human condition and what it means to be a person engaging with the world - chronic health issues, especially very visible, often painful, skin rashes, often come with a lot of trauma, anxiety, and depression, and the holistic way that this department approaches philosophy provided me with an intellectual foundation to engage with clients in a way that holds space for their suffering. Finding the causes of chronic rashes is also like putting together a huge, vague puzzle, and this program gave me the intellectual tools to combine the series of seemingly random symptoms/events that can occur over a client's lifetime into a coherent picture that allows me to determine the most likely causes of their rashes. Getting this right is critical for both healing the symptoms and maintaining healthy skin & gut function long-term, and the philosophical skills I learned for logical reasoning and developing a sound argument contributes greatly to the incredible success that my clients have. More abstractly, this program helped me along the path to answering my initial question - what it means to live well. I realized that, for me, it is vital to contribute to the world and to help others in the way that I am most suited for; utilizing my skills & interests toward this capacity is a virtuous life, and it was this realization that led me to pursue my master's in human nutrition. The career I have now is my heart & life's purpose, and it was the HSU philosophy program that led me to pursue it.


Keanu Vargus, 2022

Job description
Marijuana Enforcement Tracking Reporting and Compliance. I operate in the state of California's track and trace system to transfer cannabis, extracts, concentrates and other cannabis products across the state.
Employer: SISU Extracts
Employer website:
How did this program prepare you for your job?

Philosophy prepared me for a career in cannabis by teaching me three things. The nature of deductive arguments. The ability to read dense and complex source material and then present that material in layman's terms. I work in a system (METRC) and the rules of that system are determined by the laws in place by the state. Its a lot like learning a new board game. There are things you can and cannot do in the game but to know the difference you have to read the rules, apply them and be able to explain them to others.

Kimberly Nguyen, 2021

Job description
The Legal Lounge provides free services for students and HSU community members who need help finding an attorney or understanding their legal rights. This includes, but is not limited to, answering frequently asked questions, providing brochures/print-outs, and holding office hours to address student needs. A program like the Lounge was an entity on campus 24 years ago and went on a hiatus when the faculty retired and students graduated. It was reestablished in 2017 as students began to see the rising need for legal assistance and the lack of education about our rights. As the Research and Development Coordinator, I supervise all internships within the organization. The Student Legal Lounge works with departments to help students fulfill experience requirements for graduation. I also create and conduct trainings, write contracts, and help foster the growth in Lounge operations. The Student Legal Lounge believes most issues can be resolved with community resources, so I am also a big part of outreach and community building.
Employer: Humboldt State Student Legal Lounge, Funded by Associated Students

Thank you HSU Philosophy Department! I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to earn my Bachelors's Degree here.

Nichole Vasquez, 2021

Job description
The Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc. is a consortium of tribal clinics dedicated to providing quality and culturally appropriate medical care to the tribal families of Southern California. The board of directors for RSBCIHI is comprised of delegates and alternate delegates from nine Southern California tribal nations. Primary and alternate delegates are elected by their tribe's general membership and serve on the Board to deliberate on clinic policies and events that benefit the health of their tribal communities.
Employer: Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health Inc.

Dr. Cannon is one of the best professors I've ever had. I always checked the course schedule for his classes before determining my class selection. Powell was a firebrand, and I'm thankful the Philosophy department allowed him to share his voice and interests; May he rest in peace. Dave Heise was a ball of energy, and I think of him often whenever the topic of political philosophy is brought up, as his class helped enhance my political perspective. I am forever thankful for that course. If I could have majored in only hanging out with Michael Goodman, I totally would have. He's like the best grandpa ever, and he explains Logic in the most passionate and approachable way. They made the philosophy department a great place to be. This department does so much to curate an amazing place to learn and grow.

Braxton Corbin, 2021

Job description
I use Google Analytics, social media, and SERPs to leverage current customer interactions and create conversions. I compile historical data from clients to create attainable goals for the future.
Employer: Co-founder
Employer website:


As an early adopter of the work-from-home dream in 2017, my experience was difficult. I had to continually prove myself to employers who were skeptical. What I found was that philosophy and my education at HSU gave me the necessary tools and perspective on the world to continue to advance without having to go into an office.

While many of my friends chased the golden shackles of high-paying office-based careers, I instead sought time and freedom. Colleagues and friends encouraged me to pursue this lifestyle stating that they could not find a reason which could justify why we should sacrifice today what we may not get to experience tomorrow.

Since graduating (prior to the pandemic) I’ve enjoyed 3-4 months of travel per year while still working. I’ve spent time in Ecuador, Mexico, Australia, and France.

With time and perseverance, my decision to study philosophy has paid off in ways I never dreamt were possible.

 Shannon Bass, 2021

Job description
I work for a nonprofit organization that specializes in harm reduction-based outreach and intensive case management to folks living outside and using substances. I organize and create equitable distribution of temporary housing placements for the organization. I also build relationships with partner agencies and work to envision and advocate for more equitable housing systems city-wide.
Employer: REACH
Employer website:

How did this program prepare you for your job? Studying philosophy made me incredibly skilled at being able to think critically about large complex ideas and think them through to a practical level. I use this skill daily, along with having to read and write at length about them for grants and reporting.

 Jessica Jane Richard, 2021

Job description
I'm an Executive Assistant, Organizational and Ops Development, and Warehouse Administrative Management. I was hired by CEO and CFO to assist in the management of a newly licensed, vertically-integrated cannabis company. I oversee all startup operations, personnel management, and state cannabis compliance for 4+ state-issued licenses, ranging from nursery cultivation to transportation. In my role as general manager, I have worked to create and implement company-wide processes and to develop systems that allow for the successful and safe bulk processing/distribution of cannabis products. I have recruited, conducted interviews, and hired more than 50 qualified team members, and have conducted more than five termination interviews. I have conducted company-wide trainings on warehouse safety, OSHA requirements, and workplace harassment. I facilitate a company-wide staff review, gaining valuable insight on the development of an intentional company culture. Upon recruiting and hiring supervisors and specialists to meet the demand of our growing business, I now oversee a middle management team of five individuals, in addition to attending to the needs of company executives directly.
Employer: Today's Humboldt County, LLC
Comments: Could not ask for a better faculty to study under. Because of the small class sizes, and small campus atmosphere, the professors always were so friendly, approachable, accessible for the most part. I found it very easy to develop strong mentorships with each and every professor I had.
Whitney Philips, 2021
Job description
I teach courses on digital culture/media literacy/online ethics as well as folklore/pop culture/monsters. My research and writing—which includes several books, a number of book chapters, and lots of news articles—combines both areas.
Employer: Syracuse University
Comments: I have been so influenced by HSU in general, and the Philosophy Department in particular, that I've found ways to integrate imagery from Arcata (especially the community forest) into several published works. It only seems fitting as a tribute to everything I learned from my time at HSU!

H.A. Nethery IV, 2003

H.A. Nethery IV, 2003 Philosophy, received an M.A. in philosophy from the University of Memphis, and a Ph.D. in philosophy from Duquesne University. Nethery is currently an assistant professor of philosophy in the Department of Religion and Philosophy at Florida Southern College. 

Steve Brudney, 1970

Steve Brudney, 1970, Philosophy, might just have the first Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy. About the same time Brudney refused induction into the war in Vietnam. Later he earned Master of Arts in philosophy at UC Davis. Brudney wrote to 263 community colleges, found eight openings, got one interview, and was not hired. Instead, Brudney worked at Pacific Lumber Company for 19 years and then for the county. Now he’s writing a book on Christian fundamentalism. He draws from decades of experiences with fundamentalists, his training in philosophy, and over 33 years studying Bible scholarship, the historical Jesus, Christian beginnings, and the formation of the New Testament.

Andy Powell, 2005

Since the last update given, I have been working at Lost Coast Communications as a DJ for KWPT “The Point” as the host of The Night Show. Outside of playing music on the show 6 nights a week, I also talk about current events (news, politics, foreign policy, and yes even some philosophy) and attempt to present a fair look at subjects or topics of debate in today’s times.

As was stated in my last update, I am still playing music with my band Strix Vega as the bass player, keyboard player, and one of the composers. We’re expecting to release our third album in early 2013.

Shawna Joy Hernandez, 1996

While I did not pursue an advanced degree in Philosophy - my bachelors in Philosophy has served me well. I feel that my written communication, critical thinking and “outside of the box” perspective have come in very handy as I have navigated my way through the business world.