Student Testimonials

Student A

My name is XXXX, and I am a graduate student in philosophy at the University of California, Irvine. Before I was a graduate student in philosophy, I was a physics major at UCSB where I met Sherri.

I took my first philosophy class, as many undergraduates do, on whim. I needed a G.E course that satisfied a culture and writing requirement and that quarter, and Intro to Philosophy fit my schedule. I thought this would be a course in which I could do the minimum amount of work and still get an A. As many undergraduates do, I quickly realized this would not be the case. The questions we faced in that class were tough, abstract, and most frustratingly did not seem to have solid answers. As someone who is generally curious and enjoys problem solving, I became very interested in philosophy.

This interest would not have gone far had it not been for Sherri and other graduate students like her. I met Sherri when I was invited to join a club at UCSB called ethics bowl. Ethics Bowl is a undergraduate debate-style team competition in which we discussed contemporary ethical issues,Sherri was one of the coaches for this team. Although I was interested in broad epistemological problems, it was through Sherri’s leadership that I realized that philosophy also dealt with concrete issues that affect all societies and individuals. Because of ethics bowl, I realized that I could study philosophy full time and consider career options other than engineer, a path that as a first generation hispanic student my parents had pushed me toward my whole life.

When I decided to pursue philosophy in to grad school Sherri was a constant help and resource. She guided me through the stressful application process, helping me figure out letters of recommendation, reading my personal statements, and patiently answering my every question. When I was accepted into a few places, she helped me make my final decision. My parents did not attend university, much less grad school, so Sherri’s help was invaluable to me.

As a graduate student herself, she had a limited time,funding, resources, and an endless amount of work (a reality I now find myself in). Sherri did not have to run Ethics bowl, MAP, or take time out of her schedule to mentor me. In fact, to this day she continues to mentor me about conferences, publishing, time management…etc, even while going through the job application process herself! However, because she did, I now get paid to think about something that I am passionate about and that I think can make an impact in the real world. I am now in a position to do the same for others, and have followed in her footsteps in starting and coaching an ethics bowl team for undergrads, and running my university’s MAP chapter. Sherri showed me firsthand how important mentorship is, and the impact it can have on the field of philosophy as a whole, especially in terms of diversity. I hope to continue to follow in her footsteps and perhaps mentor someone who will follow in mine.

Student B

Sherri Conklin would be an amazing addition to your team.Sherri taught the first college course I ever took, PHIL 4 Introduction to Ethics. I was very nervous on my first day, because it was my first time being introduced to a new field of study. I waited until after the lecture was done to ask her my questions about the material. She encouraged me to ask these questions in class, because they were relevant and many students probably had the same ones I did. She gave me the confidence I needed to start expressing mythoughts in the classroom setting. After PHIL 4, Sherri introduced me to EthicsBowl, which got me even more invested in philosophy. I came to UCSB as abiology student, because all my life all I have known is biology. Sherri openedthe door to a whole new world of studies and turned me into a confidentphilosopher.

 I’m now co-president of Ethics Bowl, and I am double majoring in both biology and philosophy. Sherri, inspired me to look beyond STEM and that there is an importance in the humanities. Now as a third year with numerous philosophy classes under my belt, I can say with confidence she is best philosophy mentor I have ever had. Her approach to teaching is not just to reiterate ideas but to make us think about how these ideas play a bigger role in our lives than we think. She approaches philosophy from a dynamic teaching style ,and includes us on the journey with her through the material. Philosophy is unpopular, because it’s boring and we’re taught about the same old straight white men, who seem to be the only people doing philosophy. As a black gay man Sherri helped me feel included in the material. She introduced me to modern philosophers, like Nomi Arpaly, Pamela Hieronymi, and that there are other people doing philosophy. Her class gave me hope that philosophy is not just for those in power, but rather its a useful tool for all of us. I’m so glad I was lucky enough to have her be a mentor during a crucial part of my college career. I strongly believe if we had more philosophy teachers like Sherri, we’d have a lot more people wanting to learn philosophy. Thank you for your time.

Student C

I have had Ms. Conklin as a Teacher’s Assistant for two upper-division classes at the University: Philosophy 100B Theory of Knowledge in Fall 2017, and Philosophy 100A Ethics in Winter 2018. As a second-year Philosophy major myself, Ms. Conklin has had a significant impact on my interest and experience in learning in these two classes. The course material being rather complex and difficult, Ms. Conklin made a great effort in several ways to assist students in understanding the material. Her discussion sections were extremely clarifying for all in attendance, as she would simplify and explain concepts from both lecture and readings that students struggled with. Any questions she received during section were treated with care, and answered with simplicity. Numerous times, she drafted up handouts or sent out mass e-mails to students with important material to focus on. Attending about a total of twenty discussion sessions run by Ms. Conklin this past school year, the content of the sessions was always enlightening and helpful.

An aspect that I believe Ms. Conklin truly strived to assist students was in her preparation for term papers. At the introduction of a paper prompt, the first thing Ms. Conklin would do was precisely outline the guidelines for the paper, and her expectations of the students. This made the daunting task of writing an upper-division essay more approachable for all. She also organized paper draft reading sessions outside of class, in which she would offer to read student drafts prior to their due date. During these, she would offer feedback, so that students would know her personal thoughts on their papers and could adjust them accordingly. Personally, Ms. Conklin’s paper draft reading sessions helped me immensely in strengthening my writing abilities and solidifying my understanding of the material within the paper.

Additionally, she went above and beyond in terms of making herself available to students outside of class for group midterm and final exam study reviews, often dedicating at least twelve hours of open time to help students right before exam dates. This allowed for students to take advantage of extra assistance and clarification of concepts in preparation for these crucial exams.

Outside of class, I have come to Ms. Conklin as a source of information for opportunities to further pursue my education in Philosophy. She has made me aware of numerous summer programs and helped prepare me for their respective application processes. I am thankful for the opportunities that she has pointed me in the direction of to pursue my studies in a supplemental manner.

Ms. Conklin is an extremely dedicated and caring Teacher’s Assistant that I have been lucky to have twice in my time at the University. Her assistance in helping students navigate through difficult philosophical material exceeds expectations of her role as a TA. I believe that her investment in the success of her students deserves to be acknowledged and recognized.

Student D

As a UCSB undergrad, I have had the pleasure of having Sherri Conklin as an instructor for two separate courses. The first course, Phil 100A, an introductory ethics course, was taught by professor Matthew Hanser and I had Sherri as my section TA. The second course, Phil 145, punishment and responsibility, Sherri was the lead lecturer. I took Phil 100A in the winter of 2018 and I took Phil 145 in the summer (session B) of 2018. Both courses proved to me how outstanding Sherri is as an instructor and how strong of a background she has in philosophy.

In Phil 100A, I more closely experienced Sherri’s teaching since she was my TA and therefore the class size was small and intimate. I realized quickly how clarifying it was to attend her section and how she always helped me gain a better understanding of the material. Specifically, I found it helpful that she would take broad, outlandish material and try to put it in terms of everyday examples. It becomes a lot easier to understand principles of ethics when thinking about them in ways less antiquated than the words of Hume. Whether it was about punching kittens— weird but surprisingly clarifying— or stealing your boyfriend’s money, these examples drove my understanding of the courses I took with her. Her section for Phil 100A was definitely one of the most valuable that I have ever been enrolled in.

As midterms and papers rolled around for both of these courses, I was shocked by how available Sherri made herself for us to seek help on the material outside of class. She had several review session

ns where she would work through the material and let us ask questions in groups, not only helping us gain an understanding of the material as she understood it, but also allowing us to develop perspectives that came from group discussion. She would let us bring in full drafts that she would talk through with each one of us— usually taking at the very minimum thirty minutes per student. Frequently TA’s or lecturers do not want to do this because it simply takes way too much of their time. Sherri seemed to be aware of how important each individual assignment was to not only our grades for those courses, but to our take-away as students, therefore causing her to put extra time into helping us as much as we each needed. One time for a paper I had due in Phil 100A, I was on campus until 10:30pm discussing my paper with Sherri. The fact that she was willing to spend so much of her night sitting in the 5th floor Philosophy Common Room with students who were strangers to her was really impressive to me. I was extremely appreciative of this, as I felt like she really wanted me to the best that I could as a philosophy student.

Student E

My name is XXXXXXXX and I am writing in support of Sherri Lynn Conklin. I am a graduate of UC Santa Barbara where Sherri is completing her PhD. I have known Sherri for four years. My first interactions with Sherri were as a member of the Ethics Bowl debate team that she was a coach of, but over time she also became a academic and personal mentor to me. While I was never a student of hers, I feel I can comment on her teaching ability and her value as faculty member because I learned much of what I know about philosophy from her in these contexts. It is my pleasure to give Sherri my unreserved recommendation. It is my opinion that she would be a valuable addition to any university’s faculty.

I first met Sherri in her capacity as a debate coach. It was my first year on the Ethics Bowl team and her first year coaching. When I first joined Ethics Bowl, I had very little experience with formal debate or philosophy – as was the case for many of the people on our team. Sherri spent hours with us every week teaching us about philosophical theories and approaches, as well as how to structure arguments and how to discuss philosophical ideas in such a way they can be easily understood by someone who is not familiar with philosophical terms and concepts. She catered to different styles of learning by arranging for speakers to come in to assist with our debate preparation and present relevant information in a memorable way. During my third and final year of Ethics Bowl, I became a co-president of the team and took on a more active role in leading discussion and planning our arguments for competition. I was able to perform well in this role due to the time I spent learning from Sherri’s example. Not only did Sherri turn our team of inexperienced debaters into regional champions and national competitors, but she also taught us practical philosophy and debate skills that are useful far beyond the scope of debate competitions. For example, many of the debaters on our team – including I – have seen a significant improvement in our philosophical writing ability and we attribute this to the way she taught us how to structure arguments well.

Sherri’s involvement in my life was also instrumental to my development as a philosophy student. Despite her busy schedule. she was always willing to hear my ideas, read papers, and provide meaningful and constructive criticism. She fostered my interest in philosophy by encouraging me to join philosophy organizations and attend conferences, and connecting me with other enthusiastic philosophy students. In addition to what I learned from Sherri in the formal debate environment, I learned quite a bit through example and experience interacting with her. For example, I learned much about philosophical discussion and practice, as well as many philosophical terms and concepts, through conversations with her where she treated me as if I were an intellectual equal – as opposed to an inexperienced undergraduate. I saw her benefit other students in these ways as well.

In conclusion, I have been greatly enriched by my interactions and experiences with Sherri and I believe that she will be an invaluable asset to the students and faculty at whichever university she will teach at.