How did NIU Philosophy help prepare you for what you’re doing now?
Studying Philosophy at NIU was instrumental in my development, both professionally and personally. I'm currently living in Gaziantep, Turkey, near the Syrian border, working for the Syria Recovery Trust Fund, a multi-donor development fund that rehabilitates critical infrastructure and reestablishes public service systems (e.g., water networks, health care, etc.) in Syria. One of my responsibilities includes informing our donors — which are governments — of the potentially harmful unintended consequences of action or inaction in a certain area for a given project. The critical thinking and writing skills that I honed while studying at NIU have helped me analyze our projects from a variety of vantage points, consider challenges, estimate the likelihood of threats, perform risk/benefit calculus, and offer alternatives that mitigate harm while simultaneously alleviating suffering. Additionally, the ethical training I received played a role in propelling me into this field.
What do you feel is special about NIU Philosophy? And why would you recommend NIU Philosophy to other students?
The people in my cohort and the MA classes immediately before and after mine were of excellent caliber. The social environment was simultaneously cooperative and competitive. I was constantly challenged — academically and personally — to pause, reflect, and seriously consider the writings of the authors we were reading, the beliefs of my fellow students, and my own personal desires. The level of engagement I had with my professors and friends in the program was remarkable, and it prepared me for the complexities of living overseas in a radically different environment. For these reasons alone — the quality of people, the level of intellectual rigor, and the cooperative atmosphere — I would recommend NIU Philosophy in a heartbeat.
Is there anything else you’d like to tell prospective students about NIU Philosophy?
Don't let DeKalb scare you away from an excellent, life-changing educational opportunity.
Data Analyst and Reporting Specialist for the Syria Recovery Trust Fund
Mr. Ridolfo elaborates on project proposals, compares needs analyses with conflict trends to help determine which projects are most viable, analyzes monitoring and evaluation data, etc.
M.A., philosophy, Northern Illinois University, 2013
B.A., philosophy/political science, University of Vermont, 2009