PSS Summer '12

Philosophy of Reform

Sarah Marlow


Hometown: Staten Island, New York

Majors: Philosophy and Public Policy

Beyond HWS: Marlow will attend Columbia University, working toward her master’s in philosophy and education

  • Teaching Fellow in Philosophy
  • Member of William Smith Congress
  • Studied abroad in Ireland
  • Graduated magna cum laude with Honors in Philosophy

Coming from Bard High School Early College, Sarah Marlow ’12 knew she wanted to study philosophy. “I read Plato for the first time at 15 years old, and I couldn’t put it down. It spoke to me. It still speaks to me,” she says. “I’ve always been the kind of person who asks a lot of questions, and philosophy allows me to ask tough questions and gives me the tools to grapple with them.”

It was that deep-rooted academic connection that helped Marlow select Hobart and William Smith. “When I visited campus, I ended up talking with Assistant Professor of Philosophy Carol Oberbrunner for more than an hour,” says the Staten Island native. “That’s when I was sure this was the place. Where else can you make that kind of deep connection with the faculty before you’re even a student?”

Once on campus, she discovered an additional interest in public policy after taking a course with Professor of Public Policy Craig Rimmerman, and before long, she’d declared it as her second major. But her two academic interests didn’t cross much until her junior year.

“I had no idea that education policy was its own field, but I was deeply interested in education reform. When I realized that my passion had a name, I ran with it,” says Marlow. “It all came together in my Honors project with Hobart Dean Eugen Baer on Plato’s theories of education as a basis for reforming urban education policy.”

In the fall, she will continue her exploration at Columbia University. “I am particularly interested in looking at how philosophy may be used as a grounding for policy reform,” she says. “Columbia’s Philosophy and Education program gives me the opportunity to delve deeper into both fields while also looking at the areas where they intersect.”

And though she’s excited for the next step, leaving HWS is bittersweet for Marlow. “I’ve been reflecting on it a lot lately, and I just don’t have the right words to say how big an impact my professors have had on me,” she says. “They nurtured my interests and helped me clarify my passions and discover new ones. They were instrumental in helping me figure out how to bring it all together.”


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