When Galen Donoviel graduated in May 2018, she was already prepared to make a difference in the world on her own terms: “The most important takeaway from my years studying philosophy is to live ethically, and according to my own values, not the values that others tell me to have.”
Donoviel’s training in ethics, as well as her concentration in global philosophies and double major in ethnic studies, has helped her begin to carve a career path in non-profit development and fundraising. She explains, “I wanted to figure out how I could add value to the world through my career choice. I knew I needed to pursue a career that would allow me to be actively involved in protecting the rights of disenfranchised people.”
Donoviel credits philosophy for encouraging her to “open my mind to question the nature of everything.” After considering other majors in the liberal arts, Donoviel chose philosophy because it considers “ideas about how to live the most fulfilling life. And this was fundamentally important to me as a person.” She appreciates how her peers and philosophy professors at CSU “engage openly about complex, abstract ideas and critique the reasoning behind them. Philosophy taught me to question arguments and apply my own ethical principles to situations with confidence.”
For Donoviel, being a philosophy and ethnic studies double major was a natural fit. She explains: “I often found that philosophy and ethnic studies complimented each other in ways that really surprised me. I recall many nights lying awake happily confused about how Ancient Greek philosophy has informed the racial justice movements of the twentieth century.”
Donoviel also appreciates her background in ethnic studies for “challenging me to be extremely self-reflective about the way I take up space in the world and how to take responsibility for the way I live my life and impact others politically, economically and socially.”
One example of this increased accountability is Donoviel’s co-founding of Rams for Refugees, which, after she met her friend Radwan Kalaaji, whose family lives in Aleppo, she originally intended as a vehicle by which to raise money for internally displaced persons in Syria. Donoviel explains the growth of the student organization: “We eventually decided it would be more impactful to create a lasting organization at CSU dedicated to helping refugees around the world. We wanted to focus on both education and fundraising, so we tried to tailor events and meetings to do both.”
In the two years since the founding of Rams for Refugees, the group has raised $5,000 for Doctors without Borders and $2,000 for the International Rescue Committee of Denver. This was accomplished by hosting community dinners, movie nights, art auctions, weekly meetings, and a Refugee Awareness Symposium. Beyond the benefits of supporting these worthy organizations, Donoviel was enriched by her and her colleagues’ new friendships with people of different ages and backgrounds: “Even when we had vast differences of opinion our friendships remained, which was probably the most valuable lesson I learned through this work.”
Beyond Rams for Refugees, during the past five years Donoviel has regularly volunteered at a women’s shelter, worked as a canvasser for Environment Colorado, and interned with the United Nations Association of Northern Colorado. Donoviel’s passion for social justice, along with her skills at communication and relationship-building, have motivated her throughout her time at CSU and will continue to serve her well as she creates her own definition of a fulfilling life as a new CSU Philosophy and Ethnic Studies alumna.