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Philosophy graduate to pursue career in law, human rights

Photo of Isabella Conti

Isabella Conti will be graduating this semester with concurrent degrees in philosophy and justice studies, as well as certificates in human rights and socio-legal studies.

April 20, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

Isabella Conti was born and raised in Scottsdale, Arizona, but considers herself a New York City girl at heart. She is part of a close-knit Italian family from the East Coast and grew up knowing the value of education. 

“I was taught from a very young age to always put forth my best effort when it comes to my academics,” Conti said. “I have always planned on attending a university and earning a degree because as a woman, I feel extremely fortunate to have access to an education and I recognize that this privilege is not given to every woman.”

She wanted to attend an out-of-state university but after being accepted into Barrett, The Honors College at Arizona State University, she knew she would regret turning down the opportunity.

“I am beyond happy with my decision to attend ASU because it has opened so many doors for me and I couldn’t imagine my college experience anywhere else,” Conti said.

She will be graduating this semester with concurrent degrees in philosophy from the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies and justice studies from the School of Social Transformation, as well as certificates in human rights and socio-legal studies. 

While attending ASU, Conti became a member of the Undergraduate Law Association, the vice president of the Junior Purple Society and president of the Undergraduate Philosophy Club

“(The Undergraduate Philosophy Club) was one of my favorite experiences at ASU, as this opportunity opened many doors for me in the philosophy world,” Conti said. “During my time as president, I coordinated and hosted multiple webinars and panel discussions with philosophy professors on various philosophical topics, such as the ‘Amplification of Disinformation' and ‘Disability Rights.’”

Conti also helped coordinate the Undergraduate Philosophy Conference where undergraduate students from various discourses presented their papers to an audience.

“Philosopher Tyler Burge also joined us for the keynote address, and I was honored to speak alongside such an influential person and philosopher,” Conti said. “If there are any students who are interested in getting more involved with philosophy, I would definitely recommend joining the club and considering a leadership position.”

As Conti prepares for graduation, she reflects on her time at ASU.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in? (Might be while you were at ASU or earlier.)

Answer: Ever since high school I knew I wanted to go down the path of law, which is why I chose to major in philosophy. Because there are so many different types of law that one could pursue a career in, my freshman year was filled with a lot of questions pertaining to the type of law I would ultimately work with. It wasn’t until my second year at ASU, when I added the justice studies major, that I had the “aha” moment of studying human rights. I had the opportunity to work alongside Professor LaDawn Haglund during my internship with the ASU Human Rights Film Festival. From using film to expand my knowledge of human rights issues to working alongside the most influential human rights advocates all over the country, this internship presented me with invaluable experiences that solidified my passion for human rights.

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

A: The most impactful lesson that I learned at ASU was during a meeting I had with my adviser during my freshman year. He encouraged me to add the double major and the two certificates because of how well my first semester at ASU went. I was extremely hesitant to take on such a workload, but he pushed me to do it because he knew I was capable of succeeding with these degrees and certificates. The situation taught me to believe in myself and the things I am capable of. Oh, and Marcos Enriquez, if you are reading this, thank you for pushing me to challenge myself and follow my passions.

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

A: The professor that taught me the most important lesson during my time at ASU was Professor LaDawn Haglund. Although I only took one class with her and only worked alongside her during one semester of my college experience, I consider her to be a really important mentor in my life. Not only did she open my eyes to the human rights violations that occur throughout the world, but her dedication to human rights taught me to use my privilege to help those who are less fortunate than I am. She also taught me to use my voice to help the oppressed, whose voices are too often silenced.

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

A: The best piece of advice I could give those who are still in school is that college is all about finding yourself. People put a lot of pressure on themselves during their freshman year and feel as though they need to stick with the original path they choose, whether that be their initial major or initial career goal. But one of the best parts of college, in my opinion, is that you have the opportunity to move freely and make the choices that benefit you. Some of my most interesting classes that really solidified my passions were because I took the plunge and added the justice studies major and human rights certificate during my second year at ASU. So, if you are feeling as if your initial path is not making you happy, prioritize yourself and change directions.

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

A: My favorite spot on campus for studying has always been the patio area outside of Biodesign. It was always so peaceful, and the bakery inside Biodesign has the best muffins which makes studying much easier.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: After graduation I am taking a gap year before moving on to law school. I plan on pursuing a career as a lawyer for international human rights.

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

A: If I was given $40 million I would tackle the climate refugee crisis. Climate refugees are referred to as the “forgotten victims” because they are so often not given the attention, support and protection that they deserve. As the climate crisis contributes to progress at an alarming rate, the issue of widespread displacements as a result of natural disasters is becoming a more pressing issue that needs to be addressed immediately.

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