Sarah DiMaggio ’17 to Pursue Ph.D. in Philosophy at Vanderbilt University 

Sarah DiMaggio presents a poster at Inquiry

Recent Lebanon Valley College graduate Sarah DiMaggio '17 spent her four years at LVC as a hardworking student-athlete. While playing field hockey and delegating her time between athletics and academics, she realized that her chosen major of biochemistry was not the career path she wished to follow. 

When fulfilling a general education requirement class in ethics with Dr. Bob Valgenti, associate professor of philosophy, DiMaggio awakened an interest in philosophy. She began to explore this further, taking additional classes in the Religion and Philosophy department, including Gastrophilosophy: Reflections on Time, Place, and Identity during a three week study-abroad session in Perugia, Italy. 

DiMaggio says that the philosophy courses helped to expand her general understanding of the subject and sparked her initial interest, saying: “I think most people think of Plato and Aristotle when they think of philosophy and don’t see how it relates to their lives today, but these classes really challenge that idea and prove otherwise.” 

DiMaggio decided to switch majors in the spring semester of her junior year. “Transitioning went smoother than one might expect. I definitely credit this to the liberal arts curriculum at LVC, as well as my amazing advisors” she said. She was able to graduate on time with a philosophy major and a minor in German. 

As a junior, Dr. Valgenti also encouraged DiMaggio to participate in his nationally recognized E.A.T. (Engage, Analyze, Transform) Research Group. E.A.T. helped to bridge DiMaggio’s scientific background with her interests in philosophy, and she was able to present research on student-athlete nutrition at the Association for the Study of Food and Society conference at the University of Toronto in 2016. 

After working with her academic advisors and professors, DiMaggio began looking into graduate schools in order to follow a research interest in environmental philosophy. After narrowing the search down to eight schools, DiMaggio was offered a full fellowship to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy at Vanderbilt University. 

“When I found out that I had received a full fellowship from Vanderbilt, it was an easy decision because the department’s strengths aligned well with my interests and the program has a great reputation,” DiMaggio said. “After graduate school, I hope I can get a tenure-track teaching position at a small liberal arts college, like LVC.”