Alumni Profiles

Below are just some of the great people who have graduated from CSU East Bay (or Hayward!) with a degree in Philosophy. If you want to be featured among our alumni, or just want to let us know what you've been up to since graduation, send an e-mail to our department chair, Prof. Christopher Moreman (christopher.moreman@csueastbay.edu). We would love to hear from you!

Israel Francisco

Graduated: 2021

What have you been up to since your graduation?

Since my graduation in the Spring of 2021, I have continued working as a custom home builder. I also volunteer at a community health hospital, and with an anti-poverty board at the City of Oakland. A major goal of mine has been to work in healthcare helping under-served populations. To that end I have trained as an EMT to gain patient care experience, and have spent a substantial amount of time applying to graduate nursing programs. I am happy to share that I have been admitted to, and will be joining Yale University’s Nurse Practitioner Program in the Fall of 2022.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

My study of philosophy has liberated my thought process.

Like most students of philosophy, I began with three main goals, to become a more reasoned thinker, a better writer, and a better speaker. I achieved those goals; it would be nearly impossible to study philosophy at CSUEB and not hone those skills. Those are important skills that are common prerequisites for employment in a multitude of careers. But there is an equally important yet unexpected consequence of philosophical course work, which is the liberation of one’s thoughts.

Liberating our thoughts, allows us to remove limitations that we either consciously or unconsciously set for ourselves. We tend to base these limitations on preconceived notions of what is possible, what we believe we are capable or incapable of doing. An example of a limiting thought is “my future will always necessarily resemble my present”. That thought and others like it are enemies of our own success because they do not allow for change. Defeating those thoughts grants us the freedom to do, and to become what we want. Studying philosophy at CSUEB has meant that I no longer circumscribe every decision by what I think may be possible. Instead, I resolve to vanquish the person that I had previously hemmed in with limitations, to make room for the person that I will become.

James Filling

Graduated: 2021

What have you been up to since your graduation?

Right after I graduated in Spring ‘21, I matriculated as a Juris Doctor candidate at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. I recently finished my first semester here at McGeorge having done fairly well across the board. I accepted an offer to be a research assistant for one of the distinguished faculty on campus (who is cited by the Supreme Court, even!), and I’m currently in the process of securing a tax-related summer internship. 

So that’s what I’ve been up to academically and career-wise. In my non-academically occupied time (if I can fashion any), I find myself going for walks and thinking about things or striking up conversations with fellow students. As of late, I’ve been fascinated by how expansive the universe is and the implications this has on religion. For example, one strand of thought in Abrahamic religions is that God created humans to have a relationship with them. If that’s the case, why go out of the way to make such an expansive universe if the sole purpose was only to interact with humans? It would have been sufficient just to create the earth. I’m prompted to think of two main possibilities: The larger universe is meant to have some impact on who we are and how we interact with God, or God didn’t create the whole universe. Either way, the rest of the thought process is interesting because if God didn’t create the universe then what’s God’s relation to it, and if the universe is supposed to affect us, how? 

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Having a degree in philosophy is a cornerstone of my identity because philosophy is uniquely personal. Philosophy is about the way of the world, but it’s also about the way of the self, and some of my favorite parts of myself come from things I read in pursuit of my degree. The major advantage that philosophy has over other subjects is that it fosters personal development to the highest degree, both in the sense of defining oneself and in the sense of defining the outside world, as well as one’s place in it. 

Studying philosophy also provided me with a really useful skillset, which is the source of my success in law school. I found philosophy to be a fantastic major for developing reading comprehension, analytical and creative thinking, and the ability to come up with and answer my own questions. The world is really, really vast and full of curiosities, and the ability to pinpoint some of those curiosities, ask questions about them, analyze them step-by-step in an organized way, and then develop an answer to them provides a great sense of comfort and self-reliance– it also makes the world much more interesting! So if you’re bored by life, philosophy is the place for you. And, if you’re not, it’s still the place for you. 

One thing I took away from my degree that is unique to the philosophy program at East Bay is the relationship I formed with the department. Small to medium class sizes really fostered one-on-one time with professors, who are all knowledgeable, inspiring, and committed to the success of their students. I also got to bond with fellow philosophy majors since we all had multiple classes together. If I had to do undergrad all over again (which would be a privilege more than a burden), I would absolutely do it the same. 

Peter Ruszel

Graduated: 2021
What have you been up to since your graduation?

After graduating I continued teaching kids and adults how to write code at The Coder School. Teaching has always been a passion of mine, and The Philosophy of Education class I took at CSUEB was a fantastic course that helped me develop my own teaching philosophy.

One of my other passions is for building websites. Since high school I really enjoy taking an idea, bringing it to life, then sharing it with anyone on the Internet. I resumed my career in web development at One Medical, a healthcare company whose culture is unique in a few ways. Two of the company's core values are intellectual curiosity and unbounded thinking. Studying philosophy taught (and still teaches) me how to ask the right questions and think outside the box.

Dolores Chipres

Graduated: 2019

What have you been up to since your graduation?
Since graduation I have 3 years of Case Management experience with Mental Health emphasis. I work with the Edgewood Center for Children and Families, through the SAYFE Wrap around services. As a mental health professional/provider I support my client's with counseling and motivational exercises to reach their treatment goals. 

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Studying Philosophy at CSUEB has been such a privilege, especially with the current job I have. To be able to experience a cohesive department helped my critical thinking skills. A skill that is crucial to my job so I may coordinate my clients treatment with an open mind with my treatment team. It has allowed me to put into practice challenging and understanding other peoples perspectives. Additionally, it has helped me facilitate meetings on difficult conversations about my colleagues biases, client's backgrounds, and cultural humility. The Philosophy department at CSUEB will always have a special place in my heart and mind.

Jamaka Davis

Graduated: 2019

What have you been up to since your graduation?

Since graduation I have been in grad school part time at Mills College Oakland, studying Educational Leadership where we've been discussing epistemology: a priori and a posteriori, ethics: axiology, metaphysics: ontology. I must do a lot of reflection to apply philosophy to my role in the future of course. 

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Growing up as a girl in East Oakland, I always wanted to attend CSUEB (back then it was Cal Hayward) and a comedian from the neighborhood I grew up in, Mark Curry, attended there so I wanted to go to college because I was inspired by him. Not to become a comedian, but to get a college education. Studying philosophy under all the professors at CSUEB has meant a lot to me, I truly value the experience. Philosophy has taught me so much around myself, life, and the human experience. I am still on my journey and I'm sure I will have a more rich definition as I study and apply my experience with philosophy from CSUEB. 

Kenneth J. Monfort

Graduated: 2008

What have you been up to since then?

I'm currently seeking a teaching credential closer to my hometown, while working as a substitute teacher for Merced County. I'm also currently volunteering my time to a local online newspaper that serves the GLBT community here in Merced/Atwater by reporting on local GLBT events here in Merced and surrounding areas.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

The degree itself not only taught me how to write in a more focused way, but it helped me to pick up on the ways that other people think. Studying Philosophy gave me friends, taught me communication skills, showed me diversity in people, and taught me how to interact with different groups of people. As a gay guy, I was able to actually come to terms with the fact that that there are people out there who don't hate me for being gay and actually want to be my friend. I was able to increase my reading skills, think more logically, and be a more active student in class. Plus, having this degree gave me insight into other academic fields. As Philosophy Society President, I loved getting the meetings together and talking with my fellow officers about what topics we should discuss. I enjoyed the discussion after the meetings, where I could just chill and relax with friends. Philosophy at CSUEB was a degree just for me.

Joachim (Joe) Steinberg

Graduated: 2008

What have you been up to since then?

I am currently pursuing a Masters in Public Administration at the University of Hawaii at Manoa and working at Helping Hands Hawaii, a local nonprofit, as a customer service rep. When not working, I'm surfing, hiking, swimming, snorkeling, playing my guitar on the porch, lounging on the beach, but most likely I'm at my home away from home, Sinclair Library at the UH Manoa campus.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

One thing that I must say about the Philosophy department at CSUEB; the fact that I attended a University which had a small Philosophy department was a great advantage that I didn't think about going into it. After talking to many other Philosophy students, I have heard many stories of classes taught by graduate students at some of the larger Universities in the area. As philosophy students at CSUEB, we received the benefit of having all our classes taught by Professors who brought experience and knowledge into the classroom; experience and knowledge which graduate students are still striving to achieve. I feel that is the greatest of the benefits which the Philosophy department at CSUEB has to offer students

posted 06/2009

Dan Navarra

Graduated: 2008

What have you been up to since then?

Currently enrolled in the Master of Divinity Program: Fuller Theological Seminary and Associate Pastor of Antioch United Methodist Church on The Rock in Antioch, CA 

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Most pastors, youth pastors, and worship leaders that I know have a private Christian school education. I do not. Most of them have been taught the popular theological stances of the day, and have not been taught anything else. The Philosophy Department as a whole at CSUEB challenged me at every turn to really understand not just what I believe, but why I believe it. In most of my coursework in the Religious Studies option, I studied tradition different from my own , including Eastern religions and a fascinating Jewish Philosophy class. This forced me to not just have a good stubborn opinion about my faith, but it forced me to be able to address all other types of faith and the philosophy behind them. The professors do NOT push their own personal religious beliefs. They teach objective philosophy at its purest.

Basically CSUEB gave me a firm foundation and a well-rounded perspective on life. "Sunday School" answers would not hack it in a classroom discussion. They made me argue BOTH sides of an argument (regardless of which side I personally chose), because that's the best way to understand how to argue logically and concisely. I highly recommend the Philosophy program at CSUEB to all students, but especially those who want to pursue a career in ministry but cannot afford to do the private Christian school route. The faculty are personable and interested in not just making a paycheck, so much as they are into teaching their students about life and "the pursuit of wisdom," - to use the etmilogy of the word.

posted 06/2009

Chris Ainsworth

Graduated: 2008

I have applied for a Master degree in Counseling & Guidance with a PPS Credential.

What have you been up to since then?

I am currently employed as the High School Director at Canyon Creek Church. I spend my free time reading, drinking coffee, playing basketball, managing my various fantasy sports teams, listening to music, and attempting to travel to new places.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

My experience at CSUEB was quite transformative. What I took away most was a rejuvenated confidence to think for myself. I gained valuable resources and ideas from writings of philosophers and my fellow classmates. Ultimately, I was pushed to be honest with my thoughts and was encouraged to take the extra step. I enjoyed a diverse community of people from all different walks of life, and this was beneficial for me to step out of my comfort zone and learn from these experiences. The Philosophy department always cared for me and helped me tremendously in finishing my degree.

posted 06/2009

Ryan M. Adler

Graduated: 2003

What have you been up to since then?

My current occupations: Cop and Magician.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Studying philosophy at CSUH (it was Hayward when I was there) gave me a deeper understanding of why people think they way they do and helped me understand other people's perspectives.

The major helped me sharpen my analytical skills and prepared me to "think outside the box" by examining potential outcomes. As a preliminary investigator for a police department, I have to be very analytical and detail-oriented. Philosophy helped me prepare and implement thought processes that make me better at my job.

posted 06/2009

Bryan Gower

Graduated: 2003

What have you been up to since then?

I earned a Masters Degree in Public Administration (MPA) from CSUEB in 2006. I'm a Business Analyst and Environmental Commodities Registry Administrator for APX Environmental Markets Inc., San Jose, CA 2007-Present. APX is the infrastructure provider for every regional renewable energy market in North America. I serve as a Registry Administrator for two Midwest Renewable Energy tracking systems.

I served as the President of the Board of Directors for the Crosstown Coffeehouse and Community Center, Alameda, CA from 2004-2009. I was a founding board member of this public benefit organization that coordinated community development activities using a philosophy of community organizing called Asset Based Community Development. I worked with organizations and community members to host sustainable living and environmental stewardship events.

I was married in 2004 and now have 2 children (3 years; and 15 months.) I enjoy photography and bicycling.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Studying Philosophy has given me the framework to think out of the box and to challenge the things I hold to as permanent fixtures in my thinking. Critical thought continues to broaden my perspective enough to be creative and entrepreneurial in every aspect of my life and career. “I took a test in Existentialism. I left all the answers blank and got 100” - Woody Allen

posted 036/2010

Margaret Stortz

Graduated: 2002

What have you been up to since then?

I earned a Special Masters Degree in Alternative American Religions, completed in 2006. I also published a book based on my Master's Thesis.

I am semi-retired, but continue to pursue ministerial activities, i.e. filling pulpits when asked, continuing to write religious literature and teach in the Holmes Institute, an accredited college in teaching spiritual studies.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

I returned to the University after an absence of more than 40 years because I wanted to continue to learn and to sharpen my thinking, which study in Philosophy can do. My graduate degree enables me now to teach at a college level.

posted 06/2009

Jason Long (pictured with his daughter, Maggie)

Graduated: 1997

What have you been up to since then?

I earned a Masters in English from CSUEB in 2004, and am now an English Professor at Merced College (one year from tenure).

I am living in Merced, CA with my wife and two daughters. I am also back playing music as the drummer in a local rock band (like when I was delivering pizza in college). Between school and music it is just like being back in college - except with more diapers and less pizza! In all seriousness, I am really happy with my life, and I know that I am very fortunate. I am also grateful for the education I received from CSUEB, as I couldn't have accomplished any of my dreams without it.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

I feel like earning my initial degree in philosophy made the majority of the content in my English Master's program seem relatively easy, and I was really prepared to be successful. My philosophy degree has also served me well in other aspects of my life too, making me a better critical thinker, capable of understanding complex ideas, and a more contemplative and thoughtful person than I ever was before. When interviewing for a highly competitive position as a Customer Service Rep with Kraft Foods (which I landed, and enjoyed) I distinctly remember them asking how my philosophy degree would assist me on the job. I answered something to the effect that while other people had degrees in one thing - like accounting or management or information systems - and could handle work only in their field, I had a degree in "thinking" and could handle any position they wanted and anything that was thrown at me. And even though I eventually switched to English, I am always grateful that I have the philosophy training along with it.

posted 03/2009

Katy Masuga

Graduated: 1996

I earned an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2001, and a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington, Seattle in 2007. 

Katy is now an instructor in Comparative Literature at the University of Washington, in Seattle.

Julye Bidmead

Graduated: 1991

What have you been up to since then?

I am now an Associate Professor in Religious Studies at Chapman University, Orange, CA and am a staff member of the Megiddo Archaeological Expedition in Israel. I received an M.A. and Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Vanderbilt University, with an emphasis on ancient near eastern religions and ritual studies. I have also attended the Graduate Theological Union at Cal Berkeley and Tel Aviv University in Israel. I tell my students this one sentence "about me" the first day of class: "I spend my summers deep in ancient dirt and the rest of the year figuring out what it all means and sharing it with them in class."

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

Studying Philosophy and Religious Studies changed my life and opened up a world of knowledge that I never knew existed. I began my college career in my 30's by taking night classes at a community college as a Business major. But after one semester with a course in Greek Philosophy and another in the Old Testament, I knew my world was no longer in the 20th century CE but somewhere in the very distant past. I switched majors and never looked back. I transferred to CSUEB and majored in Philosophy with a Religious Studies minor. There I found myself so encouraged by the wonderful professors (especially. Eugene Mayers and Ed MacKinnon) in the department and my fellow students in the Philosophy Society. I too was often asked the inevitable question "what do you do with a Philosophy degree?" and I knew my answer was to go and get a graduate degree so I could become like one of the encouraging professors whom I encountered at CSUEB. So, the subjects changed my life and gave me dreams of the future, and the department and professors showed me the way to do it!

posted 06/2009

Brian G. White (pictured with his wife, Lisa)

Graduated: 1980

What have you been up to since then?

I received a Masters of Divinity, Theology Fuller Theological Seminary 1987, pastored 10 years in Fremont with Vineyard Church, and did a one year sabbatical in 2008!

I am now transitioning to another ministry. I'm involved with the CERT and CARE programs in Fremont. I'm also a political junkie, Constitution/ Bill of Rights/civil rights leading the way and a member of the NRA, which is simply a civil rights organization.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

To me, philosophy is the foundation, many times the unseen foundation, of everything. My "take away" sound bite regarding the influence of philosophy is simply that it is the history of ideas... and... ideas have consequences! It therefore behooves us to know the philosophical ideas being proliferated in a culture.

I believe in "pluralism and freedom" in the public square. I'm a conservative- not necessarily a Republican. The age old conflict is between "liberal democracy" and some form of totalitarianism.

posted 06/2009

Michael Berumen

Graduated: 1975

What have you been up to since then?

I completed the Stanford Executive Program, Stanford's Graduate School of Business, in 1991. I was in the insurance business for nearly 30 years and retired as a senior executive in 2001. I own several businesses, now, and write and lecture on several things, including ethics. My book, Do No Evil: Ethics with Applications to Economic Theory and Business came out in 2003. Several of my articles have also been published, including one on Bertrand Russell in Free Inquiry.

What has studying Philosophy at CSUEB meant to you?

When I was at CSU, my interests were very much focused on analytical philosophy, especially the philosophy of science. I fancied myself a follower of Russell, Quine, and, to a lesser extent, Popper. I had a rather narrow view of philosophy at the time, though my mentor and friend, the late Eugene Mayers, taught me to broaden my outlook. Among other things, he introduced me to Dewey, Rawls, and Nozick, all of whom have influenced my later views in various degrees. Professor Mayers was a great friend and we continued to keep in touch for over thirty years. Indeed, on more than one occasion he tried to persuade me to take up philosophy as a vocation I think he would be pleased to know I keep my hand in it and that his influence remains a large factor in my life.

No doubt philosophy would seem impractical as a course of study for many people, and this was certainly the case when I was young, but nothing could be further from the truth. I could not think of a discipline that cuts a wider swath across a large variety of topics and that better prepares one for evaluating and formulating arguments, communicating points of views cogently, and dealing with the kinds of social and ethical problems one encounters in daily living. Indeed, in business, where I’ve spent the better part of my adult life, I found my formal training in philosophy and my continuing interest in it to be invaluable.