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Philosophy major helping pave professional path of Sampson ’16

Hannah Maloney ’17
Ryian Sampson ’16 says philosophy and the arts are central to his future
Ryian Sampson ’16 says studying philosophy at Monmouth College helped him develop a philosophy for life.

Sampson, who lives in the Chicago suburb of Hanover Park, Ill., says he feels fortunate to have taken so many thought-provoking philosophy courses at Monmouth and has taken those teachings and applied them to his own personal theories. His senior thesis about the “Power of Art” was his “attempt at pulling together everything I had learned and turning it to a very real issue that plagues communities worldwide.”

He added: “There is always an ‘out group,’ and they come in many forms. How is it that we can use the arts to give them a voice? What is that voice saying and how loudly is it crying out? How can we bring more attention to something that is troubling our fellow human beings? My thesis is something that has been pushing me ever since I left Monmouth College.”

Not long after graduating, Sampson landed a full-time position at the Midwest-based IT firm ITsavvy. He eventually plans to pursue a recording arts degree with the goal of building his own record label.

“No matter what I do, I always plan to keep the arts central to my plan,” he said. “I want to be able to bring different groups of individuals together and enrich communities by making the arts a central pillar to their livelihood. What we can do to defy things like oppression and injustice with song, poem, painting, dance, performance and fashion. ... I work toward that end.”

Sampson initially chose to study at Monmouth because he liked the idea of small class sizes set in a slow-paced town.

Looking back, what he loved most about the College was being around so many familiar faces and being able to learn about their different experiences and perspectives.

“Everyone is always learning and evolving around you,” he said. “I couldn’t help but come to love the people who would suffer through 8 a.m. classes, polar vortexes and ‘caf’ food with me. The community of people who I came to graduate with made my college experience what it was.”

Sampson’s decision to study philosophy was made after taking the class “Introduction to Liberal Arts” with Dan Ott, a professor who teaches primarily philosophy and religious studies courses.

“He must have planted little seeds in my mind as I swear only these professors can,” said Sampson. He also credits, Ott’s departmental colleague, Professor Hannah Schell for challenging him to push the boundaries of his thinking in his first ethics course.

Sampson said what he enjoyed most about his philosophy courses was the ability to bounce different ideas, interpretations and methods of thinking off of his classmates.

“It is a beautiful thing to engage in discussion with other bright minds, collectively come to a better understanding of an idea in an abstract form, and be a witness to it,” said Sampson.