Matt Monaco '16 - A Career Path in the Nonprofit Sector

Philosophy: A foundation for critical thinking and solving problems

"Studying Philosophy improved my ability to identify the underlying — sometimes hidden — causes of social issues, and helped further develop the critical reasoning skills needed to come up with solutions for these issues."

-- Matt Monaco '16

Philosophy major Matt Monaco ('16) just landed a full-time position with the nonprofit America's Grow-a-Row. The position is an outgrowth of an internship and independent study opportunity.

Below is a short essay that he wrote:

"As a Philosophy major I often faced the question that is all-too-familiar to students in the social sciences, “what’re you going to do with that major after college?”

Well, I’m glad to respond by saying that I am going to live a life that actualizes the ethics and social ideals that I’ve adopted from studying philosophy and I'll get paid to do it.

In fall 2014, I submitted a proposal to create an independent study on environmentalism, food ethics, and political activism to Dorothy Rogers, who currently chairs the Department of Religion. The course consisted of two main parts: a text-based academic portion and an internship. For the academic portion, I read and wrote papers on the contemporary philosopher, Peter Singer, and the American thinker, Henry David Thoreau.

For the internship, I applied for an unpaid position with the NJ-based non-profit, America’s Grow-a-Row. AGAR contributes to the sustainability of agriculture and provides fresh produce to people in places that might otherwise lack full-access to healthy, fresh foods. 

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The internship lasted for the duration of the spring semester, and my responsibilities included community outreach and assisting with education programs in schools across the state.

At the end of the internship I was offered a paid position as seasonal field support assistant, and spent the summer working for AGAR. Following a successful growing season and harvest, I was offered a full-time, salaried role with the organization, which begins right after graduation. 

So, what will I do with a philosophy degree? I will work to feed my community. I will engage in work that lets me earn a living. And I will stay true to my ideals.

My studies at Montclair State, specifically in my Philosophy and social science courses, helped me identify how I want to live. Studying Philosophy improved my ability to identify the underlying — sometimes hidden — causes of social issues, and helped further develop the critical reasoning skills needed to come up with solutions for these issues."