Emily Gaertner is a senior majoring in philosophy/pre-law and criminology. She is from Canton, Ohio. She said that, “once I toured IUP, there was no other option. The school had all the benefits of a large university, yet campus felt intimate and comfortable.” We are incredibly proud of Gaertner because she has been very successful on the IUP Mock Trial team, winning All-Region Attorney with a near perfect score at the American Mock Trial Association meeting on February 14–15, 2015, at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.
Gaertner comments that, “Serving as president of IUP Mock Trial has been an invaluable academic exercise, as well as an incredible personal experience.”
Mock Trial is a rigorous extracurricular activity. The 10-member team makes up both plaintiff/prosecution and defense teams, who compete against other school’s teams. The competitive season ends with a regional tournament. In order to prepare for these competitions, the team works through hundreds of pages of material, including federal rules of evidence, relevant case law, pretrial proceedings, stipulations, affidavits, and exhibits. At the regional event, other schools participating include Carnegie Mellon University, Case Western, and Washington and Jefferson.
Gaertner noted that her philosophy major has been especially significant in helping her prepare for her successful experience with mock trial: “Philosophy has been crucial in my mock trial career. The tools I’ve acquired and strengthened due to studying philosophy and with the help of the outstanding members of our philosophy department have done wonders throughout my experience with mock trial, and I know will be just as essential when I go to law school. Studying philosophy has opened my mind to new perspectives, challenged me to analyze theories and arguments from a neutral viewpoint, strengthened my problem-solving skills, and helped me communicate more effectively and efficiently. I strongly believe philosophy is one of the most practical majors one could possibly pursue.
“One of the things I love most about philosophy, besides reading the works of some of the greatest thinkers to ever live, is that it emphasizes, ultimately, very universal job and life skills. Instead of memorizing and regurgitating, philosophy teaches one the skills necessary to handle higher level, abstract, complex thinking. Every skill listed above is a skill necessary to succeed in any field. When someone sees philosophy on a resume, they label you a ‘thinker’ right off the bat, and who doesn’t want a ‘thinker’ working for them?!”
At the Mock Trial Association meeting in February 2015, in addition to Gaertner’s award, the team itself won the Spirit of AMTA Award, which is “an award voted upon by the competing teams themselves as to which team they feel ‘best exemplifies civility, justice, and fair play…[in addition to being] outgoing, friendly, and demonstrate a willingness to go beyond the call of duty.’”
Majoring in philosophy has a proven track record in preparing students for standardized exams like the GRE, GMAT, and LSAT. Philosophy majors outperform all other majors on both the Verbal Reasoning and Analytical Writing sections of the GRE. In addition, of all the pre-law majors, philosophy majors have the highest average score on the LSAT. According to the American Bar Association, “Solid grades in courses such as logic, philosophy, and abstract mathematics are generally considered a plus [in applications to law school]….Contrary to popular belief, law schools do not favor political science, criminal justice, and government majors over others.” The IUP Philosophy Department website has information on how a major in Philosophy can help prepare you for many different careers.
Gaertner has been accepted to several master’s programs and is considering a dual-degree program where she can get her JD and her master’s in philosophy. Her goal is to pursue criminal law.