Thursday, February 14, 2013

Whitworth alum’ furthers education at Duke University


Whitworth alumna Heather Wallace, ’11, is currently in her second year of graduate school at Duke University, pursuing her doctor of philosophy degree. Wallace is an interdisciplinary scholar, studying cognitive science and literature. Despite six years of post-secondary education, she says she still feels like a novice in the field.

“I’m just beginning to narrow down some of my research questions at the intersection of mind, epistemology and ethics,” says Wallace. “How should we characterize knowledge of other people? Does literature or science give us better tools for increasing this knowledge?”

From the moment she took a senior honors humanities class in high school, Wallace knew she wanted to be a philosophy major. While at Whitworth, Wallace double-majored in philosophy and English.
“Knowing a fact is a dead practice until we bring it to life with use, application and appreciation,” says Wallace. “The world is a marvelous place of depth, intricacy and ambiguity that always rewards another look. The humanities trained my eye.”

Wallace says she could list a dozen professors at Whitworth who deeply influenced her and the direction of her life and faith. Among these influential figures are professors of philosophy Forrest Baird, Joshue Orozco and Keith Wyma; professors of English Laura Bloxham, Thom Caraway and Laurie Lamon; and Professor of Theology Scott Starbuck.

“The humanities have given me a huge set of lenses to choose from as I look at my ordinary experiences,” says Wallace. “Poetry trained me to notice the meaning incarnate in a turn of the wrist; philosophy made me practice the way I put together a variety of experiences into a picture that hopes to capture reality.”

During her time at Whitworth, Wallace was an assistant editor for Rock&Sling, the literary journal published by the Whitworth English Department, to which she still subscribes. She also competed on the 2010-11 Ethics Bowl team, which placed third at nationals. She was involved not only on campus, but off campus as well, through her leadership of a middle and high school girls’ small group at Knox Presbyterian Church.

After graduating from Duke University, Wallace plans to become a professor at an undergraduate-focused university. She hopes to teach at a school like Whitworth.

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 3,000 students, offers 60 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.