Kris Matsykiela

Where do you work?

I am a full-time employee at WV Northern Community College.

What is your job title?

This week? (smile) I am the Program Coordinator for Academic Support. I also teach Biology and Philosophy.

How long have you had this position?

I have been at Northern since January 2002, but have only been in my current position since July 2005.

What are your key duties at work?

I supervise academic support programs, such as tutoring and supplemental instruction. I am also in charge of hiring and firing of tutors. I review and analyze our department budget on a monthly basis, I provide tutoring services and supplemental instruction for microbiology, anatomy, and biology students (I LOVE philosophy of science, so this works out great for me!), I assist in maintaining our international certification through CRLA, I advise new and returning students, and I teach and do research!

What kind of additional training does this job require besides your degree?

I have been doing graduate work, but having my B.A. in Philosophy has really helped me in my career.

What is a typical day like?

A mess. No, really, it is actually very busy during the semesters. I spend very little time in my office because I am in and out of classrooms, biology lab, and tutoring center. When I am in my office, I am prepping for classes, grading, and doing research. Oh, plus I get a briefing of how our tutors are doing and how things are going in our Center (when I am not there of course) from our Center assistant. And, there are days that I am summoned to those horrible meetings. We all know how non-philosophers love to have philosophers at the meeting table!

Does your job involve travel?

We are a tri-campus community college with campuses in Wheeling, New Martinsville, and Weirton, so yes; there are times when I must travel to other campuses. I taught Microbiology this past spring both here in Wheeling and New Martinsville. I actually enjoyed the drive.

What do you like most about your job?

Research and dedicated students!

What do you like least?

Advising. I am too organized and linear (logic does that to a person) to deal with chaos. I have little tolerance for lack of preparation.

How do you feel Philosophy has prepared you for this job?

It has trained me to think critically and to think beyond the information given. Rather than just doing my job, I carefully analyze the details of work given to me. It has allowed me to analyze our department’s strategic plans and goals in order to follow or revise those plans and meet those goals. Most importantly, it has helped me to pass on critical thinking skills to my students and to show them how to apply these invaluable skills to academics, professional and personal situations.

Do you think philosophy has prepared you better than other majors might have?

I can remember when a local University required that all students had a philosophy minor. This practice is no longer in effect, and I believe it to be a huge loss to the academic community. Philosophy teaches one HOW to think, not WHAT to think. It trains one to think clearly and critically, not impulsively. Philosophy training makes one accountable for their thinking, i.e. opinions and beliefs meaning nothing without evidence to back these up. Philosophy has held me accountable for my own thinking and I hold others accountable for their thinking.

When did you graduate WVU and with what Degrees (if more than one, or minors)?

I graduated 12/2004 with a B.A. in Philosophy. I was also a Daniel B. Purinton, Jr. Scholarship recipient.

What attracted you to Philosopy/Why did you choose to major in Philosophy?

LOGIC, LOGIC, and more LOGIC!! I chose this major after taking a logic course-my very first philosophy class ever. I realized what I had been missing. I have always been curious and I love to analyze. Philosophy not only allowed me to do this but it helped to strengthen my critical thinking skills.

What advice would you give to an up and coming student considering majoring in Philosophy?

Do it! This will truly give you the upper hand in other classes and better prepare you for your professional career. Philosophy trains one to think. With this major, you will be a trained thinker. How many people can say that? Anybody can talk and sound good, but appearance is not reality. Philosophy will train you first to think, and then talk.

What would you say to someone who was worried about the job prospects of Philosophy majors?

A degree in Philosophy will open many doors for you. I know people with business degrees who are waitresses, people with journalism degrees working in flower shops, etc. I am not concluding that these degree choices led to an unsuccessful life, it is not the degree that determines success. I have had people laugh at me or roll their eyes when I told them that I was majoring in philosophy. They told me that I had better practice saying, “Do you want fries with that?” Since graduating, I have done well. I apply philosophy daily in my responsibilities. I am successful. I have taught at West Liberty State College. I did not apply, I was asked. I was asked if I was interested in a full-time position at Northern. My degree has given me specialized training in thinking and I have applied that training. I am currently using my training in a part-time design business that I am building. You do not just “do” ‘X’, you have to first know “how” to do ‘X’. Philosophy trains one in the ‘how’. It is truly an invaluable degree.

Do you consider yourself a philosopher?

I consider a true philosopher one that is able to spend time to do their own research in their specialized fields. I have done little research so far. A person with a biology degree is not a scientist until they have worked and conducted their own research in a specialized area. I believe I am an “amateur” philosopher. Now, Aristotle was a philosopher!

What is the number one thing you learned from your experiences as an undergraduate Philosophy major at WVU?

To think things through beyond the information given. Hey, I believe that there is a book actually called “Beyond the Information Given” and I remember it was terrible! It definitely does not stand up to Popper, Rescher, or Klenk.

What are your current hobbies/interests?

I love the outdoors!! I love hiking, boating, and camping. But I prefer snow over summer. I try to get out as much as I can in the winter. I love to draw and am currently designing two works and trying to get some of my work in “Art Works” here is Wheeling. I love to read! Logic books, Aristotle, design/art books and World War 2 history are by far my favorite. Last November, I began violin lessons and now play violin, viola, and cello. Most importantly, I love being a wife!

Anything else you would like to say?

I am honored to have been asked to complete this interview. I am so happy to have become acquainted with so many wonderful people at WVU, especially the faculty and staff in the Department of Philosophy. My experiences at WVU and in the Department of Philosophy have truly been wonderful. The education I received was great and I apply it everyday.

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