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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2019 commencement.
Keziah Ampadu-Siaw struggled to find a degree that was right for her. She changed her major several times during her time at Arizona State University, but after taking her first philosophy class with Cynthia Bolton, she began to think about pursuing a degree in that direction.
“Anytime I thought about changing it to philosophy, the question nagging at me was, 'What are you going to do with that degree?'” Ampadu-Siaw said.
Like any good student would do, she researched the benefits of obtaining a philosophy degree and decided to go for it.
“Needless to say, this class blew my mind away,” Ampadu-Siaw said. “It was like math — my favorite subject — but in logical sentences. In addition to that, I have always been one to ask 'Why' and ‘What makes what you said valid?’ Therefore, from this point, I continued to pursue philosophy and have since loved every single class, because they challenge me to expand on my knowledge and view different situations and scenarios in a different light.”
After requesting numerous course overloads over the following semesters, the Ghana native will be graduating this semester with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy with a concentration in morality, politics and law from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, as well as a minor in women and gender studies from the School of Social Transformation.
We were able to sit down with Ampadu-Siaw and ask her a few questions about her time at ASU.
Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective?
Answer: Something I learned while at ASU is that there is no universal truth and that even though we may think we know something, we do not know.
Q: Why did you choose ASU?
A: Honestly, at first I was leaning towards U of A because I had a plan which ended with me attending their medical school, but when I learned about Barrett, The Honors College, I was sold. I told my dad, who was on the fence of me coming to ASU, that I was only going to choose ASU if I got into the honors program and I did indeed.
Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?
A: This is difficult because I have learned a lot from all my professors; however, currently, I am taking PHI 420: Philosophy of Mindreading, taught by Dr. Ben Phillips, and I always look forward to this class because the topics we discuss are very much relatable to situations in our daily lives and have made me conscious about some of my actions and behaviors. Personally, I find it valuable when the things I learn in the classroom can be integrated into my life, and that is something I have appreciated about all my philosophy and women and gender studies classes. It means I am getting my money's worth!
Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?
A: My Residence Hall Association adviser Catherine LaRoche's most common response to me is, "Do better!" Now, I know this may sound harsh, but I take it in a more positive light. To me, this is her way of challenging me and ensuring that I am always giving my best to something and not just doing the bare minimum. Hence, my advice to students is that when you are done with assignments or any chapter of your life, reflect on it and see if there is something you could do to make it better. After all, all the things you do is a reflection of who you are when no one is watching.
Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?
A: My favorite spot on campus, even though sometimes it is a place I get more stressed, is the Residence Hall Association office. The reason being, I can either be productive, have meaningful conversations with my staff, meet new individuals, answer lots of questions or just have caring individuals who are attentive listeners and solution-oriented help me solve any problem I may be dealing with in the day or week.
Q: What are your plans after graduation?
A: Currently, the plan is to pursue a master's degree in higher and postsecondary education and work, hopefully, for ASU. Upon receiving my master's degree, I plan to pursue a Juris Doctor and practice law.
Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?
A: I would tackle planetary conservation. I know this is broad, but I will use the funds to provide solutions and education of how we can conserve the resources we have left. Whether we want to accept it or not, this planet is our home and we are the ones destroying it, so we should be the same people to restore its health. After all, when we fall ill we do everything we can to restore our health, so why not reciprocate this to the environment we live in? It is all so very simple. As students, we can start practicing conservation by always recycling, turning off our lights and water when they are not in use, laundering sensibly, carpooling, etc. There are so many ways.