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Philosophy student balanced work, school to graduate with Dean’s Medal

Anthony Child-Rinearson

Anthony Child-Rinearson is graduating with his bachelor's degree in philosophy and is the Dean's Medalist for the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies.

December 06, 2021

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable fall 2021 graduates.

Anthony Child-Rinearson grew up with separated parents who lived in different states, and he bounced between California and Pennsylvania during his childhood. He didn’t consider what he wanted to do after high school and left the decision to a future self to figure out. 

“After high school, I still didn’t have a plan for myself, so my mom made me enroll at a nearby community college in California,” Child-Rinearson said. “I took classes there and I enjoyed them and got good grades, but I still didn’t have a plan.”

Pressure from people around him made him think he needed to come up with a strategy, and while trying to come up with one, he changed majors almost every semester. After taking enough classes, he earned his associate degree in social science.

“Shortly before graduating, my grandma passed away from breast cancer,” Child-Rinearson said. “Growing up, I was closer to her than anyone else, but I regretted not spending as much time with her before she passed away. I had elderly family in Pennsylvania, and I didn’t want to make the same mistake.”

He took his father up on an offer to go to school out in Pennsylvania with the intention of studying social work. However, days before starting the program, he questioned his major and decided not to go. 

After discussions with his father and stepmother, he began working various jobs including in fast food and as a courier, bartender and server. 

“I eventually became the assistant manager of the restaurant I served at,” Child-Rinearson said. “I loved that job, and it was the first time I felt like I knew what I was doing with my life. But eventually I became burned out.”

He left his job at the restaurant and decided to take a road trip across the country with the end point being California and reenrolling in a college. Shortly afterwards the COVID-19 pandemic hit and changed his plans.

“I decided to take the pandemic as an opportunity to go back to school online,” Child-Rinearson said. “So, I started looking into online schools and I came across ASU.”

While studying at ASU Online, Child-Rinearson balanced school with working at his job by keeping a calendar on his phone with the due dates of all his assignments. And he said having a set schedule helped, too. 

“I wish I would have had one from the start,” said Child-Rinearson. “There were a couple times I had to reach out to teachers to ask for extensions on assignments simply because I was working too much. I’m thankful for my teachers and boss for how supportive they’ve been. I’ve found that if you approach people genuinely and ask for help when you need it, they’re usually understanding.”

Child-Rinearson earned the Family First Scholarship while at ASU and is graduating with his bachelor’s in philosophy with a concentration in morality, politics and law from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and is also the recipient of the Dean’s Medal from the school. 

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

Answer: Honestly, after changing my mind so many times in my life, I realized I had to just pick something and stick to it. When faced with the decision of what to major in, I thought of one of the classes I enjoyed at my community college, a philosophy course, and I went with it.

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

A: I’ve learned that playing devil’s advocate in philosophical discussions can lead you to surprising conclusions. All too often, I intentionally argued in favor of positions I didn’t agree with only to end up changing my mind in the end. It would always surprise me, and I think it has helped me to understand competing perspectives better. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: I really liked the idea of online school because I have family in different states and I’ve had a tendency to not stay in one place for too long. I was overwhelmed by the choices in front of me; it was mostly by chance that I chose ASU, but I’m glad I did.

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

A: I’d like to thank all my professors. It’s really hard to single out a lesson that helped me the most. However, I suppose if it weren’t for my logic class, I would have struggled more in my other courses. Dr. Thad Botham’s class made me a much better researcher and paper writer, taught me how to better analyze arguments, construct counter-examples more easily and carefully scrutinize text, a lesson I learned all too well after misreading some tricky directions in his class.

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

A: Just keep living life, and don’t forget to appreciate the moment. Don’t worry too much. If you apply yourself, then you will succeed.

Q: What was your favorite spot for power studying?

A: Despite having a desk in the apartment, I usually found myself studying — and snacking — at my high-top kitchen table or in my bed if I was feeling lazy. 

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: You can probably tell I’m not much for plans. But I’ve gotten better about planning while still managing to "wing it." My girlfriend and I plan on going to the Great Smoky Mountains with her family for a destination Christmas. I’m hoping my dad and stepmom will be able to meet us there as well. 

I’ve enjoyed remote schoolwork enough that I’m looking primarily for remote jobs after graduation. I could see myself doing paralegal or sales work or something similar. I’m toying with the idea of continuing my academic education after paying off some student debt, but I’m not sure yet. 

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

A: Honestly, I don’t know. I’d probably use the money selfishly, invest most of it into a diverse portfolio, start my own business(es), hopefully grow the initial amount of money into a bigger amount and then donate it all to charity upon my deathbed, thus passing the burden of the money onto others. Meanwhile I’d be debating the pros and cons of which charities would be the best to donate to. Would it be better to use the money toward curing cancer or other diseases, ending hunger, housing the homeless, conserving the environment, fighting injustice or something else entirely? There are enough competing values that it’s hard to pick just one thing. I’d like to just do good where I can.

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