What were your favorite philosophy courses at UCLA?

  • Moral philosophy/ethics courses
  • Medieval philosophy

Are there any philosophical issues, readings, or topics that have stayed with you since graduation?

Kant’s Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals

What was your first job or endeavor after UCLA?

I was a second grade teacher in Arkansas (the Mississippi Delta region) for Teach For America.

What lessons or skills from philosophy do you use in your career?

Working as a public defender, I use skills that I gained studying philosophy almost daily. The ability to think creatively, but critically, is perhaps the most important one. My cases often involve very bad facts but that is never the whole picture. Studying philosophy trained my mind to think logically yet expansively and that has been invaluable in case after case, in terms of figuring out ways to effectively defend my clients.

Also, many of the themes I studied in moral philosophy come up frequently in my job. I often think about concepts such as right and wrong, judgment, and the nature of goodness/ evil.

The main reason I went to law school to become a public defender, rather than entering a graduate program in philosophy, was because I saw (and still see) representing indigent people accused of crimes as one of the most powerful ways to engage in practical philosophy — to not only live the moral ideals I believe in but also to study human nature, relationships, and behavior up close and in often extreme circumstances.