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Alumni Spotlight

Jim Barakat

Jim Barakat

Why did you choose to major in philosophy?

Other than having a knack for always wanting to examine topics from every possible position, it was evident early on in my undergraduate studies that the knowledge of practically everything imaginable is rooted in philosophy. The “all-around” education was something I really wanted to gain out of a major concentration, and there is no better major than philosophy to satisfy such a want. 

How did NIU Philosophy help prepare you for what you’re doing now?

In every career path, but especially in the practice of law, it is essential to be able to think critically. In addition to critical thinking, keeping an open mind while sifting through various arguments (and to come up with your own based on the facts of a particular case) is what separates the creative minds from the ones stuck inside the box. NIU Philosophy has prepared me for what I am doing now because I was able to gain insight into so many facets of schools of thought, and my studies gave me the ability to think outside the box.  

What do you feel is special about NIU Philosophy? 

One of my favorite things that I loved to do as an undergraduate was to pin the dates of when the Philosophy Department would have guest speakers presenting on campus, and go watch their presentations. Other than the curriculum, the visiting guests were always fantastic, and the Q&A and discussions afterward would always prove worthwhile. 

Why would you recommend NIU Philosophy to other students?

I always laugh when I think about it because as a philosophy major, I always thought that I was smarter than my non-philosophy major friends. Eventually you realize that you’re in fact not the smartest person on Earth, but you do feel as if you could be. The personal revelations that you’re able to make about some of your most fundamental beliefs are challenged on a daily basis, which always keeps you questioning. I would recommend philosophy to other students because you will really discover a lot about yourself in addition to the discipline. I am sure I am paraphrasing some philosopher, but in conclusion I personally feel as if I learned nothing, but I gained everything.

Occupation

Staff Attorney for the Massachusetts Committee for Public Counsel Services (CPCS) – Children and Family Law Division          

Mr. Barakat accepts court appointments to represent/defend indigent parents and children in proceedings where the state’s social services agency has a protective interest in interfering with the family unit. He is certified through CPCS to accept appointments on Guardianship petitions through the Probate Court, and to represent children in Child Requiring Assistance petitions.  He also has a Cubs tattoo on his left shoulder.

Education

J.D., New England Law Boston, 2013

Dean’s List, 2011-2013

Public Service Honor Roll, 2011

B.A., philosophy, Northern Illinois University, 2010

College of Liberal Arts & Sciences Deans’ Award, 2010

Dean’s List, 2008-2010