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Minnesota State University, Mankato
Minnesota State University, Mankato

Alumni Updates

Page address: http://www.mnsu.edu/philosophy/alumni/updates.html

Brad Beisel (BA Philosophy, 1974)

Been practicing law in the Twin Cities since '77. www.bdmnlaw.com. Still keep up with issues in philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, history of philosophy. I am very happy with my choice of majors; it has served me well, opened some doors and helped me through life in many ways.

Contact: bbeisel@aol.com

 

Dean Zimmerman (BA Philosophy, 1987)

I am a professor in the philosophy department at Rutgers University, where I have been teaching since 2002. I work mainly in metaphysics and philosophy of religion, occasionally dabbling in philosophy of mind. Three years ago, I founded the Rutgers Center for the Philosophy of Religion. We have hosted post-docs, conferences, workshops, and are now conducting a search for a distinguished senior philosopher to fill a newly endowed chair associated with the Center — the William P. Alston Chair for the Philosophy of Religion.

Contact: dwzimmer@rci.rutgers.edu

 

James Mason (BA Philosophy and Economics, 1991)

Earned a PhD in Sociology (Social Psychology and Inequality) from Oklahoma State University in July 2011. Currently a Clinical Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Spears School of Business, Oklahoma State University.

Contact: James.d.mason@okstate.edu

 

Paul Thomsen (BS Philosophy, 1993)

Wrote four novels with a significant philosophical influence as the themes touch on religion. I have published the first two books in the American Satanists series of novels with the third completed and soon to be released. My novel Giggles Goes Gone is a bit less tame but an adventure novel that would have never been written without my time at MSU in the Philosophy department. Great thanks, Dick, Hal, Yezzie and the late great Rikkers!!!!

 

Tracy Vacura (BA Philosophy, 2001)

Using my knowledge of Philosophy every day as I study and teach yoga in Minneapolis. The open-minded (but ever discerning) framework has helped me in each stage of my career--as graduate student, professor, dance teacher, now teaching yoga and studying Healing Touch...it has helped me to communicate better, to study and read carefully, to flip my perspective often. Philosophy was the start of my "svadhyaya" journey, (a yoga word which means self-study, but really means seeing past the layers of identity and conditioning to truly see what you are, and what you are NOT.) I feel like my foundation in Philosophy has provided the flexibility and resilience I have needed to adapt to an ever-changing world.

 

Erik Youngs (BA Philosophy, 2004)

Currently teaching philosophy courses and German courses as a full-time instructor at Minnesota State University, Mankato (with a dual appointment between departments).

Contact: erik.youngs@mnsu.edu

 

Mitchell Wallerstedt (BS Philosophy, 2005)

I am currently working in the field of Higher Ed IT as the Chief Operations Officer for ITS at Minnesota State Mankato. Following my undergraduate work with the Department of Philosophy I continued on in my education to earn a Masters in Public Administration. In my time with the university I've had the privilege of using the critical thinking and analytical skills developed during my time as a Philosophy student to help further the educational goals of our students and promote learning in order to build a stronger state and community.

Contact: mitchell.wallerstedt@mnsu.edu

 

Erik Berquist (BA Philosophy, 2006)

Since completing my degree at Mankato, I went on to complete an MA in philosophy at Texas A&M and an MA in Counseling & Student Personnel Psychology at the University of Minnesota. Along the way, I've worked in higher education as a career counselor, instructor, and in academic assessment. More recently, I've started working as an academic advisor for students in the College of Management at at Metropolitan State University, and as an adjunct instructor of philosophy at my alma mater, MSU, Mankato.

Contact: erik.berquist@metrostate.edu

 

Derek Skillings (BA Philosophy, 2006)

After completing my degree in biology, philosophy, and chemistry at Mankato, I went to the University of Hawaii at Mānoa where I finished a PhD in marine biology. My research involved coral reef population genetics and I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my time diving--both SCUBA and in submersibles--and at sea on research vessels. The National Geographic special "Hidden Hawaii" captures some of the work my colleagues and I did at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. During the second half of my PhD I also completed a Masters in philosophy. After Hawaii I moved to New York, where I completed a PhD in philosophy at The Graduate Center, CUNY. As of 2016, I am a postdoc researcher at the University of Bordeaux/CNRS in France where I combine my two passions by working on a project at the intersection of philosophy of biology and evolutionary biology.

Contact: derek.skillings@gmail.com

 

Kristin Belsaas (BS Philosophy, 2007)

After graduation, I worked in education for a number of years. I was a special education paraprofessional and eventually decided to go back to MSU to get a master's degree in education so I could teach high school English and speech. Halfway through my master's I had another change of heart and decided to pursue medicine. I am currently in the Class of 2019 at University of South Dakota, Sanford School of Medicine. As of right now, I plan on specializing in Child Abuse Pediatrics. My philosophy degree has helped me a great deal along the way, and will continue to be invaluable in my future career.

Contact: kristin.belsaas@coyotes.usd.edu

 

Ryan Feldbrugge (BA Philosophy, 2007)

Recently completed a Masters of Environmental Education at the University of Minnesota, Duluth.

 

Wes Gilbert (BA Philosophy, 2008)

I am the owner of Mankato Computer Repair and MCR Business Solutions, businesses that offer IT services to consumers and businesses in the greater Mankato area. We have 10 full time employees and have been in business for 6 years. My philosophy degree has helped me in more ways than I can name in the business world.

 

Kevin Gustafson (BA Philosophy, 2008)

After graduating from MSU I worked for 5 years in various law firms assisting lawyers in the fight against the 2008 foreclosure crisis in the courtroom. At the same time I continued my political engagement in a letter writing campaign against the Deep Water Horizon catastrophe and drilling oil in the Gulf of Mexico generally. I was a founding member of Occupy Orlando and was arrested in Chicago in an attempt to begin the occupation of a city park in coordination with the Occupy Wall Street Movement. I have since marched with striking Verizon workers and #BlackLivesMatter, among others. I decided to attend law school and am currently a 3L at American University, Washington College of Law in Washington, DC. I am studying human rights and humanitarian law and working to become a war crimes investigator, likely in Francophone Africa or the Middle East. After finishing my J.D. I plan on attending Leiden University in the Netherlands for a LLM in public international law and hope to work for the International Criminal Court. At the same time I have played in several bands and recorded over 5 albums, am preparing for my first solo flight and getting my private pilot's license, completing a manuscript for a novel, and doing as much traveling with my wife, Alka, as possible. If any current philosophy students or alumni wish to contact me, please feel free to shoot me an email!

Contact: kevincgustafson@gmail.com

 

Kris Lovstad (BS PPE, 2009)

I am currently the Transfer and Credit for Prior Learning Coordinator at South Central College in North Mankato and Faribault.

 

Brian Neuharth (BS PPE, 2009)

After graduating, I spent 18 months living and teaching in Seoul, South Korea. I got a few more stamps in my passport in while I began applying for law schools in 2011. While attending law school, I worked for the Oregon Department of Justice in the Consumer Protection and Financial Fraud Division. I also had the honor of representing a Latin American refugee in immigration court. We were successful in petitioning the court for political asylum status. In 2016, I received my license to practice law in Washington state and immediately started volunteering with the Tacoma Housing Justice Project, representing low-income clients facing eviction proceedings. Currently, I am working as a public defender for Pierce County.

Contact: brian.neuharth@hotmail.com

 

Tanner Walsh (BS Philosophy, 2015)

I really enjoyed the program at Mankato. The faculty offered a wide variety of philosophy courses to choose from and they all have extensive knowledge in the subject. Further, I had great experiences getting to know the faculty. They were always helpful, enjoyed talking philosophy with students, and always were welcoming. Since graduation, I have been working on a Master's degree in philosophy at Texas Tech University. I plan to move on to a PhD program with a focus on either philosophy of religion or medieval philosophy. The ultimate goal is to teach philosophy to students and help them determine what they value. Studying philosophy at MSU helped me to do just that. So, I wish to do the same for others.

Contact: tanner.walsh@ttu.edu