By: Stephen Viz ’21
In my favorite movie, the submarine thriller “Crimson Tide,” Denzel Washington plays a popular lieutenant commander of the submarine, who along with a degree from The Naval Academy, earned a master’s degree in philosophy from Harvard. Throughout the film and an ensuing nuclear standoff that occurs, he is routinely antagonized by the old school captain of the sub (played by Gene Hackman), who views the world and the situation at hand in a strictly black and white mindset. Hackman teases him during a conversation about nuclear war, stating; “Me they wanted simple, I was given my command, a target, and a button to push, all I had to know was how to push it, and the Navy would tell me when. They seem to want you to know why”.
Denzel simply responds,
“I would hope they would all want us to know why, sir”.
This response, fitting of his character’s character and credibility, speaks to Denzel’s demeanor as a critical thinker and leader, both of which may be directly linked to his liberal arts background.
Why Holy Cross College?
While my day job doesn’t necessarily liken me to sailors arguing over the philosophy of war, I can proudly say that I am an evolving critical thinker thanks to my academic pursuits and mentorship that I began at Holy Cross College. I am a current one-year MBA (Master of Business Administration) candidate at the University of Notre Dame and graduated from the Mendoza College of Business’s Master of Science in Management program this past May, a program reserved exclusively for non-business majors. Upon completion of my MBA next summer, I plan on building a career in the corporate strategy space while remaining heavily involved in entrepreneurial and non-for-profit pursuits. But none of these achievements would be possible without my three-year enrollment and graduation from Holy Cross College’s Program of Liberal Studies, which I can attest to being one of the best decisions of my life.
The best of English, history, and philosophy classes, the Liberal Studies program challenges students to grow into themselves and the world around them in intimate yet refreshing small classroom environments. Like in “Crimson Tide,” the “why”, not “what” is stressed in the discussion, regardless of if these encompass the War in Ukraine, the Wells Fargo Scandal, “On the Road,” or anything in between. And while there is nowhere to hide in a classroom full of eight people, professors understand the unique perspective each student brings to the table. This diverse track, which many students like myself pair a business/or other subject minor, has helped me to become both a swift decision-maker and confident speaker, as the urgency to stand and deliver provoking thoughts in concise periods of time was universal throughout my liberal studies classes. This universality of a needed skill set jumpstarted the next stage of my career, and my past year in business school has been greatly enhanced thanks to my liberal arts education.
Thanks to my intellectual development at Holy Cross College, I have been blessed with experiences here at Notre Dame and at companies like Boeing. But some of my most fulfilling experiences have come through the way I have marketed myself as a critical thinker. In the last year, I have been tasked to develop a curriculum and strategy at the non-for-profit organization in Chicago, named Advice Beyond the Classroom. This charity, which was founded at my high school, St. Rita of Cascia, directly focuses on the professional development of high school students. I have also been recruited as a contributing sports money writer for Forbes magazine and other confidential programs focused on humanitarian relief for those in need in the Middle East. With a lot to balance, critical thinking and my liberal arts education help propel me to understand why my projects matter to those they benefit.
In my time in the tri-campus community, real-time tangible and reflective success has erupted for dozens of students who have chosen to match liberal arts educational pursuits with careers in business and other fields. I am blessed to be included in this grouping as a Holy Cross graduate last year and hope that many other students at Holy Cross College and beyond can find this for themselves as well.