In the following Q&A, academic advisor Derek O’Connell shares some of his experiences in the Department of Philosophy at Illinois State University.

What got you into philosophy?

I started out in college as a pre-dental student, and quickly decided that dentistry wasn’t the path for me. Since my philosophy class was the one I felt like I was getting smarter in, I stuck with that instead.

What are your philosophical interests?

My main interest is in the history of philosophy with a focus on the development of Continental Philosophy, especially phenomenology, existentialism, and philosophical anthropology; my curiosity reaches back to the Greeks, however.

What is your favorite philosophy book?

It’s always dangerous to say that one’s favorite philosophical work is Heidegger’s Being and Time, but it still has a special place in my heart, even after suffering through a dissertation on the thing.

Where are you from originally?

I’m originally from Mass City, Michigan, which has one stoplight, a bank open on Tuesdays and Fridays, and a population of 200-500 people, depending on how far out you count the city limits.

What do you like to do outside of philosophy?

The outdoors is what one has there, and besides philosophy my interest in hiking and exploring remains. In that vein, the only things I miss while I’m here in Illinois are elevation changes and the absurdly gorgeous sunsets on the shores of Lake Superior.