From performer to philosopher, undergraduate makes moves to better the world


December 8, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Logan Mitchell didn’t want to go to college when he was a teenager in Albuquerque, New Mexico. After graduating high school, he moved to New York to pursue a career on the stage and found much success as a dancer, singer and actor. He even got to travel to Europe, Asia and the Middle East with the international tour of the musical “West Side Story.” Logan Mitchell Logan Mitchell is graduating this semester with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, a minor in nonprofit leadership and management, a certificate in ethics and a nonprofit professional certification. Download Full Image

“While I was on tour, I realized that I really aspired to have a skill set beyond performing that would allow me to give back to my community that was also intellectually stimulating,” said Mitchell. “So I decided that after I was done touring I would get my bachelor’s at ASU.”

During his time as an undergraduate student, Mitchell worked as the resident writing and logic tutor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

“I've been able to work with a really diverse group of students from around the country on their philosophy papers, as well as logic assignments,” said Mitchell. “It's confirmed that I really enjoy teaching, and I hope to do more of it in the future.”

He was also a research assistant for assistant professor of philosophy Maura Priest during his semester in the Undergraduate Research Experience program through the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. Not only did he help restart the Applied Philosophy Blog, he organized and moderated several debates on topics in applied philosophy like voting, smartphones and COVID-19.

Mitchell was the recipient of the Christine Sato Memorial scholarship in 2019 and is a Phoenix Pride Scholar. He hopes that by earning his degree he will be able to make a positive impact in the world and gain skills he can use to help contribute to positive social change. 

“I am planning on pursuing my PhD in philosophy actually, because I really feel as though philosophy provides me with a way of leveraging my intellect to work towards a more just and compassionate society through work in ethics and social and political philosophy,” said Mitchell.

He is graduating this semester with a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, a minor in nonprofit leadership and management, a certificate in ethics and a nonprofit professional certification. We caught up with him to ask about his time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: I was in an introductory ethics class at Scottsdale Community College, and I discovered that same-sex marriage had been a topic of debate just a few years prior. As a queer person, it was incredibly sobering to remember that my own rights were up for discussion just a few years before taking that class. It showed me how powerful and relevant ethics can be. I imagine a lot of prejudiced and ignorant students were able to really examine their own ethical beliefs through courses like that, and I imagine many students ultimately changed their mind when forced to defend their beliefs with rational arguments.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective?

A: I had no intentions on pursuing graduate studies before attending ASU. I had no idea I would love philosophy so much that I was willing to devote an entire career to it!

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I knew ASU had an excellent program in nonprofit leadership and management and I really just lucked out that they also have an amazing philosophy department. I also knew that ASU provided so many flexible and affordable options, allowing me time to work and build a schedule that fit with my needs without sacrificing the quality of my education.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: Cheshire Calhoun, 100%. She is one of my favorite people and philosophers, but she's taught me so many important lessons that I can't pick just one! One really important lesson; every sentence you write needs to serve a purpose.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?

A: Ask for help. Often. Go to office hours. Often. Don't be afraid to use the resources provided to you like the SHPRS Writing Studio and other tutoring centers. And ask for help before you get too far behind in your coursework!

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life?

A: Being on campus seems like a lifetime ago! One of my favorite spots is the little meditation room in Hayden Library in the basement. I used to go there to meditate in the mornings when I had a 9 a.m. class. I attribute a lot of my academic success to my daily mindfulness meditation practice, which has allowed me to stay calm and gain a deeper understanding of my mind  — and all the ways my mind tries to psych me out.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: Next semester, I will be teaching mindfulness to elementary school teachers, online, through the local nonprofit Mindfulness First. I am currently in the process of applying to PhD programs in philosophy, and if accepted I will begin pursuing my doctorate in fall 2021!

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle?

A: Oh, no; I don't want to pick just one! Philosophers love to choose controversial things, so I'll say we should spend the $40 million to lobby for higher taxes on the rich, maybe even an income cap, so that we can then get billions to help fix our education system, health care, criminal justice system, etc. Is that too much like wishing for more wishes?

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies

Active-duty Army officer among first to graduate with master’s degree in WWII studies


December 8, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2020 graduates.

Kelly Jones grew up in a small town in western New York and has always been interested in pursuing a higher education. After receiving a bachelor’s degree from the Clarion University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in global and international studies from the University of Kansas, he wanted to return to school for an additional master’s degree. Kelly Jones Kelly Jones is among the first group of students in the country to graduate with a master’s in World War II studies. Download Full Image

He is among the first group of students in the country to graduate with a master’s degree in World War II studies, a degree program from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies in partnership with the National World War II Museum that began in January 2019. 

“My experience in the program has been a good one,” said Jones. “It has helped me understand World War II from a broad context, how it is portrayed in film, literature and other perspectives outside of the U.S. The program has also helped me understand the long-term global effects of the war that are still felt to this day.”

Jones is an active-duty Army officer stationed in Fort Leavenworth who used the Post-9/11 GI Bill to attend the program. We caught up with him to ask about his time at Arizona State University and the WWII studies program.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? 

Answer: My aha moment came as a kid growing up in western New York; I have always loved World War II history. I was a history major as an undergraduate and jumped on the opportunity for a master’s in history.

Q: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you or changed your perspective? 

A: Something I learned as part of the World War II studies program that changed my perspective was in the Decision Points I class taught by Dr. Citino. I have studied German operations in Russia from a military standpoint; the work by Geoffrey P. Megargee, “War of Annihilation: Combat and Genocide on the Eastern Front, 1941,” (read) as part of the class showed me the broader perspective of the Wehrmacht’s involvement in the "Final Solution." Before reading the book for the course, I only had a cursory knowledge of the events laid out in it. If Dr. Citino hadn’t assigned the book as part of the class, I never would have read it on my own.

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I chose ASU for the World War II studies program and its partnership with the National World War II Museum.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU? 

A: The professor that taught me the most important lesson while at ASU was Dr. Huxen (from the National World War II Museum). Part of the World War II studies 598 class, Leadership and Diplomacy, was to produce a reflection video for the final assignment. I chose to have dinner with General George Marshall for the task of exploring how he overcame a life-changing incident later in life. The task taught me that no matter what life throws at you, you can still persevere and be successful.

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school? 

A: I would say two things for those still in school. Prioritize what’s essential for school, work and your personal life and focus on them. Having that focus will also help you with the second piece of advice, time management. Backwards plan off when your assignments are due and allot your time accordingly.

Q: What are your plans after graduation? 

A: My plan for after graduation is to attend Baylor University’s doctorate program for education and organizational change. So immediately following my graduation from ASU in December of 2020, I start at Baylor University in 2021.

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: If I had $40 million to solve one problem, I would solve literacy.

Rachel Bunning

Communications program coordinator, School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies