After graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a degree in Philosophy, Spanish, and Screenwriting, Jennifer Lynn Neczypor ’09 joined the Peace Corps as an educator in Vanuatu, an island nation in the South Pacific Ocean. Today, she is a registered nurse and is studying at Vanderbilt University to become a Certified Nurse-Midwife and a Family Nurse Practitioner; she hopes to open a birth center once she graduates. Here, she reflects on the impact that her philosophy study has had on her life.
The study of philosophy first captivated me as a junior in high school. When I came to LMU, I was so impressed with my first philosophy classes that I decided to add philosophy as a second major. What I found most valuable about the philosophy classes at LMU was the fact that professors did not tell you the answers to questions, but rather encouraged you to come up with your own answers – answers that, more often than not led to even deeper questions. I also loved the wide scope of philosophy classes offered, from the basic introduction courses covering ancient Greek philosophy, medieval philosophy, and Renaissance-era philosophy to contemporary courses on Eastern philosophical traditions, environmental philosophy, and even “The Lord of the Rings!”
I chose to study philosophy as a way of exploring and developing my individual spiritual, moral, and ethical beliefs, and as a result, found myself learning not only how to think in a logical, philosophical manner, but also what questions to ask of myself, of others, and of the world around me.
The demonstrated commitment of the Philosophy Department to the Jesuit values of social justice, service, and integrity motivated me to spend eight months of my academic career studying Eastern philosophical traditions in India, where I lived in a Tibetan Buddhist monastery, volunteered in the slums of Kolkata, and participated in Hindu, Jain, and Buddhist religious ceremonies.
One of the major values that I took from my philosophy studies was that philosophy does not exist in an existential, isolated bubble somewhere in our minds, but that it is meant to be lived out and practiced in a very concrete way. This revelation inspired me to serve the underprivileged of the world after graduation, and I chose to spend over two years as a Peace Corps educator on Vanuatu, a small, remote island in the South Pacific. This experience, in turn, demonstrated to me the desperate need for quality health care in at-risk villages and developing nations around the globe, particularly with regard to access to care for women and children. As a result, I have returned to the United States to pursue a career as a nurse practitioner. I have no doubt that I will use all the skills my philosophy studies taught me to develop in my new career, and I know that I would not have chosen this path had I not had the opportunity to explore diverse cultures, ideas, religions, and systems of thought as an LMU undergraduate philosophy student.”