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Lauren Keegan

Lauren Keegan BA ’20
Lauren Keegan (she/her)

Class Year: 2020
Hometown: Rohnert Park, California
Major: Philosophy
Minor: Computer Science
Extracurriculars: Track and Field high jumper, Pioneer Log, Admissions Ambassador (lunch host)

What three words would you use to describe L&C?

Quality, individualized, abundant

What’s your favorite class? How has it expanded your knowledge?

I wouldn’t say this class is my favorite, but it definitely taught me the most. Philosophical Methods with Professor Becko Copenhaver taught me what it’s like doing real philosophy and the sheer vastness of philosophy. The research project that we completed over the course of the semester was the most academically challenging task I’ve ever accomplished. The topic of my research project was biomedical implantation ethics and implant recipients’ autonomy, which was so cool to learn about and sold me on technology ethics. This class deepened my love for philosophy through extreme rigor, and I can never thank Becko enough for that experience.

“Lewis & Clark is nothing I expected, but everything I needed.”
Who is your mentor on campus? Why do you consider this person your mentor?

Hands down, Joel Martinez of the philosophy department is my mentor. He was the first professor I met on my tour of L&C. I took Logic with him in the spring of 2018, and we became fast friends. I became a lot more involved in the philosophy department this year, and I always find myself going to Joel for advice on some philosophical quandary or just to chat. He concentrates on virtue ethics and moral psychology, and I’m looking to go into applied ethics, so I definitely look up to him. Joel does so much for the students and for the department, and he’s constantly looking for ways to do more philosophy and help everyone out. He’s recently started a weekly meetup where we can do philosophy in a more casual setting and with less pressure, which has been super fun and productive so far. I owe a lot to Joel, and I’m excited to work with him more and keep learning from him.

What made you want to come to Lewis & Clark?

I wanted a quintessential liberal arts experience with professors that knew me well and classmates I could smile at in passing. I also wanted a school that would challenge my way of thinking and foster important skills to change me for the better. I try to think that it’s not how you got here that matters, but what you do and experience while you’re here, and what you take with you/how you come out the other side. Lewis & Clark is nothing I expected, but everything I needed.

Why did you choose to transfer to Lewis & Clark? How is Lewis & Clark supporting you as a transfer student?

I was waitlisted and then rejected from L&C when I was a senior in high school. I ended up attending a large STEM-focused research university as a bioengineering major for my freshman year. I was overwhelmed by its size and intensity of STEM (even though I loved science), because my talents are in the humanities. I started transfer applications almost immediately, and L&C was near the top of my list. I remember running out of my 500-person music lecture to call my mom when I found out I had been admitted. When I visited campus, my tour guide ended up becoming one of my closest friends and track and field teammate. There were also a lot of serendipitous coincidences that drew me to L&C, one of them being the college mascot, Seaman the Newfoundland—my family has had Newfoundlands for my entire life. In addition to this, I was born about 15 minutes from campus. I knew I’d find a home at L&C, and that’s exactly what I did.

There are sometimes transfer student events, but they’re usually when I have track practice so I haven’t been able to go to many. However, the transfers from my year have a group chat on Facebook, and sometimes we’ll all meet up at Maggie’s Cafe and talk about how we’re doing, what we’re up to, and share our experiences.

What advice do you have for prospective students?

It’s going to be hard no matter what, but it’s so worth it.

What’s your favorite thing about living in Portland?

Coffee shops and comedy clubs. I love taking the Pioneer Express downtown on Sundays, planting myself at some trendy Portland coffee shop, and getting caffeinated out of my mind to power through a philosophy essay or a computer science lab. As for comedy, I’m the editor of the Backdoor, which is the satire section of our student-run paper, The Pioneer Log. I’m trying to explore the comedy scene more to get ideas for articles to pitch to my writers. I recently saw my favorite comedian, Chris Fleming, at the Hawthorne Theater, and it was an absolute riot.

How did you decide on a major?

I went into college as a bioengineering major and took bioethics at my old university, which got me hooked on philosophy. When I came to L&C, I took Philosophy of the Environment with Professor Jay Odenbaugh, which sold me on the major, and he became my advisor. I was always better at humanities than STEM but I love science, and philosophy has a foot in both camps—it’s known as the queen of the sciences for a reason. I want to go into the field of applied technology ethics, which is why I’m minoring in computer science. The feeling of running a program you wrote yourself or fixing a bug is almost addictive, and I’m having a wonderful time with the CS minor.

Have you had the opportunity to do research with a professor? If so, please describe the project and the experience.

I am researching computer ethics with Joel Martinez this summer. We received a 10-week grant to research how artificial intelligence can use ethical decision-making procedures to improve their actions. As of right now, Joel is working on contractualism as part of a specific decision-making procedure, and I’m branching into data ethics research to pinpoint a question for my philosophy honors thesis. Research has positively shaped my work habits a lot more than I thought it would, and it’s been such a cool experience working with Joel outside of the usual classroom dynamic. I feel much more confident in my researching abilities after working with Joel.

What have been the biggest challenges you have faced at Lewis & Clark

Balancing rigorous classes, athletics, and high-commitment extracurriculars while getting enough sleep. It is a challenge I face every day… and night.

What’s your best Lewis & Clark memory so far?

I went to a cross country meet on my birthday back in October. It was so fun to see all my friends compete and to participate on their warm-up and cool-down runs. Our home course at McIver Park in Estacada, Oregon, is beautiful, and I got to see cows on the bus ride there.

How do you manage stress?

I lay on my dorm room floor and listen to music like the angsty main character of an early 2000s teen movie. My favorite artists are The Strokes and The Talking Heads.

Where do you find community on campus?

The track team is my family, and we do absolutely everything together. Even though I’m a jumper, my close friends are on the distance crew. They are all absurdly smart, talented, and kind, and I would be so lost without them. The philosophy department is a very tight-knit community, both students and faculty. We constantly have impromptu discussions in the department, and we’ve started philosophy movie nights and an existentialist reading group. I also spend a lot of time in the Symbolic and Quantitative Resource Center (SQRC)—it’s a great place to hang out with my friends and get help on computer science labs.

How has Lewis & Clark changed you?

L&C has made me more analytic and thorough with everything I do. It’s shown me that I can handle a lot more than I thought I was capable of, and to not be afraid to ask for help. Also that smiling at people goes a long way.

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