Sandra Avitia completes triple major

Congratulations to Sandra Avitia, who graduated with a triple major in Philosophy, French, and International Studies this past FA20. (Yes, you read that right—a triple major!)

Sandra’s interest in Philosophy began in high school when she joined a program that incorporated Philosophically-based English classes into the curriculum. She started off reading classics by Plato, studying his ideas on metaphysics and ethics. She also studied philosophical theology with Dante’s Inferno. This program later included readings on more controversial topics such as female circumcision and its role in medical ethics. Sandra planned to become an international lawyer with a concentration in human rights, as she realized philosophy was the perfect major to prepare her for this career. Not only did philosophy challenge her to form well-written arguments for topics such as existentialism, altruism, and ethics, but it also challenged her to analyze cultural norms around the globe and different ways of thinking.

As she embarked on her academic journey at Cal State Long Beach, she studied philosophies such as Taoism and Confucianism, exploring the Eastern views on time and consciousness. She continued her studies in medical ethics with Professor Dieveney, learning about different perspectives on topics such as embryonic stem cell research and euthanasia. She took a Foucault class with Professor Rosenkrantz, and enjoyed the distinct perspectives Foucault takes on sexuality and his ideas of power and its relation to knowledge.

Sandra originally started off as a Philosophy major but later realized the subject complemented her other academic interests. She thus went on to add majors in International Studies and French. Philosophy came up in her International Studies classes as well. This included Karl Marx’s theory of alienation of labor as well as renowned French philosophers Simone de Beauvoir’s work The Second Sex and Frantz Fanon’s Wretched of The Earth. In addition to her philosophy coursework, Sandra took classes on international migration and its relation to Benedict Anderson’s Theory of Imagined Borders. Her coursework followed a class on international development that focused on understanding the benefits and limitations of UN agencies in poorer countries.

Sandra left North America for the first time in the FA19 to start a year abroad at the Universities of Paris in France, where she took the majority of her French classes and immersed herself in the rich culture of the country. These classes included some focused on French culture and history, a class on the most popular comic books in France, two others analyzing the differences between American and French culture and classic French film and novels. Sandra also had the opportunity to study the plethora of highly esteemed French philosophers. She studied the revolutionary works of Voltaire and Montesquieu, and her coursework also included those of Rousseau and Diderot. In addition to the famous philosophers of the Enlightenment, she had the opportunity to study sociolinguistic philosophy in a course on the role of French in post-colonial French territories.

Unfortunately, back in March, the looming COVID-19 pandemic brought Sandra’s study abroad experience to an abrupt halt. Countries started to close their borders and she was left with a very difficult decision to either stay in France or return home. Ultimately, Sandra decided to remain in France until July 2020, where she experienced one of the strictest lockdowns in Europe. However, it was an opportunity to compare the different cultural responses to the pandemic.

Sandra is extremely grateful for her study abroad experience as well as for her newfound community at Cal State Long Beach. She started off her first semester at Cal State Long Beach in a new city full of ambition, and is happy to have found a multitude of teachers and faculty to help guide her academic decisions toward triple majoring and studying abroad. It was her community at Long Beach that has helped shape the determined critical thinker she is today. She has excelled in her academic fields, and ended her semester with a 3.62 GPA.

Sandra plans to attend grad school in the upcoming years. She wants to earn a Master’s in public policy and pursue a career in human rights activism. Sandra currently speaks three languages: French and Spanish, in addition to her native English. She hopes to one day work with a United Nations specialized agency to continue her passion for human rights.