Ian grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, and now lives in Texas and is a student at UT Austin, where he studies Physics and Classics. He is a member of the University’s Jefferson Scholars program, which allows and encourages students with diverse academic interests to study the great books both in and out of the classroom. Ian is currently interested in Greek philosophy, the relation of mathematics to philosophy, and language.
- How did you find out about ISI? What drew you to get involved in ISI's programming?
I was encouraged by a professor who had been an ISI honors student in his undergraduate days to apply for the program, and after I attended the honors conference I was hooked.
- If you had to choose one highlight of your undergraduate experience, what would it be?
The best part of my undergraduate experience has been my exposure to the great books through UT's Jefferson Scholars program. The department's professors are friendly and their seriousness about studying the responses of some of history's greatest minds to life's most looming questions has rubbed off on me, opening me both to studies I am truly passionate about and a loose community of students who feel similarly.
- What have you valued most about your ISI experience?
I have most valued the chance to get to know and talk to intelligent conservative students. ISI conferences are filled with students who love discussing anything from religious belief to economic theory, and even getting to listen to the discussions that take place at them is a treat.
- How have you spent your summers while in college?
During my first summer I attended an ISI honors conference and then spent a month studying Plato, Dante, and a little bit of Hegel in Rome with a small group of UT and St. John's College students.
- Whom do you admire most, and why?
One of the people whom I most admire is St. Augustine. His Confessions show us an incredibly sharp mind with an even more incredible desire for truth, and its pages so drip with devotion that to come away from a paragraph of it without a new sense of inspiration mixed with awe would be difficult. My world would be a little bit darker if I had not been able to read about Augustine's change from a turbulent youth to an inspired bishop and all of the trials he overcame along the way.
- What advice would you give to other students who want to preserve the principles of liberty?
There are two things that I can recommend. The first is to read the great books as if life depended on it and to never stop thinking about the questions found within them and the duties required of good human beings. The second is more difficult but just as, if not more, important: we need to be truly good people. We need to be kind, just, and moderate without betraying our most important beliefs. Involvement in local communities and ISI is certainly important, but we can hardly make the world a better place if our lives are not examples of what that place will be like, and we can hardly make ourselves better without following the examples of teachers, whether they be ancient authors or good friends. Find friends and teachers who will make you better so that you, in turn, can give their gift both back to them and to everyone else you associate with.
- What are your plans after graduation?
My plans at this point are delightfully fuzzy, but it is likely that some type of graduate school is in my future.