Liberal Arts in Action

Lorraine Perricone-Dazzo ’09 (Philosophy, Anthropology)

Lorraine Perricone-DazzoPartnerships Manager at Restless Development

After graduating in December 2009, I served as an AmeriCorps Volunteer in Service to America (VISTA) at a community center in the South Bronx, where I had the opportunity to build a community garden for nutrition education. Following this, I completed the course work for a professional degree in International Agriculture and Rural Development at Cornell University, followed by two years of field work as a Peace Corps volunteer, serving in Senegal, West Africa. There I trained rural farmers in field experimentation techniques and an improved rice cropping system in order to coordinate a research project among four villages to test the system’s viability in the area. Soon after my return to New York in late 2013, I started my professional career in international development in the position of Partnerships Manager at a non-governmental organization called Restless Development. I build and grow project and funding support from the United States for our youth-led community development programs, which take place across Africa and Asia. Our projects focus on issues of livelihoods, sexual and reproductive health rights and civic engagement.

As a high school student I was sharp but often misdirected and lazy in my work. My liberal arts undergraduate experience taught me how to learn, which made all subjects interesting and increased my commitment to education and worthwhile work. This new attitude boosted my confidence and inevitably my knowledge, leading me down a so-far fulfilling career path.

Both of my major courses of study at SUNY New Paltz, philosophy and anthropology, prepared me for my career. The analytical skills gained from the study of philosophy have made me more adept at the process-based thinking required to design and execute successful programs and projects, such as those I led in AmeriCorps and Peace Corps and those which I assist in the design of at my current position. My work requires communicating the frameworks and methodologies upon which my organization bases their activities, which legitimize our work and attract donors and partners. As a philosophy major, I first honed this ability to articulate my ideas through writing and discussion. These skills have helped me in every step of my career journey, including writing graduate school application essays, designing reporting and research tools, and writing blogs and grant funding applications. Further, courses like Religion, Ethics and Society, Political Philosophy and those on Asian philosophy prepared me for the cross-cultural and expatriate experiences I’ve had throughout my career.

Studying philosophy gave me direction both in my professional and personal choices; exploring ethics and global philosophies allowed me to build a picture of what I want to commit to in my life, guiding me to what I hope are the most fulfilling and interesting experiences. Plus, philosophy geeks have the best conversations.

  August 2016

Mimi Brown ’07 (Philosophy)

Mimi BrownAssistant General Counsel at the Boston Public Health Commission

One year after graduation, I attended Northeastern University School of Law in Boston, MA. I am currently Assistant General Counsel at the Boston Public Health Commission, a quasi-governmental agency dedicated to protecting, preserving, and promoting the health and well-being of Boston residents, particularly those most underserved.

A liberal arts education fosters personal growth and emphasizes critical thinking and interpersonal skills, increasing ones opportunity to not only have a successful career, but also a rewarding and fulfilling life. The skills I learned from my philosophy studies are still certainly valuable today. Philosophy helped me problem-solve for my law school admissions test and, eventually, the bar exam. I learned how to write effectively and persuasively and to consider opposing viewpoints, all necessary tools for a successful attorney.  

The inherent value in a philosophy degree cannot be overstated. Philosophy is a holistic education that touches on many diverse subjects, including English, literature, math, science and ethics. Philosophy is also a unique major in that it forces one to be mindful and think critically. It broadened my perspective and taught me real-world lessons like acceptance, empathy and understanding.

 April 2016