Jacqueline de Armas, '05

Jacqueline de Armas '05
When you first came to Princeton what did you think your major would be?

I had no idea. I came to Princeton not knowing who Plato was.

What made you decide to major in Philosophy?

I’ve always been attracted to things that make my brain itch. Philosophy made it itch the most.

Are there any stories about your experiences as a Philosophy major at Princeton that you'd like to share?

I have yet to meet a Philosophy major I didn’t find at least interesting. Philosophy requires you to think deeply and rigorously about a singular issue. It requires you to follow your conclusion, no matter the conventional trend. I have found this type of focus applied to all areas of my life has brought about the most rewarding experiences, and I think Philosophy majors as a whole take pride in this type of living. I often find a kinship whenever I come across a Philosophy major. 

What did you do immediately after leaving Princeton?

I became a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines. I was torn between the desire to travel and the desire to be near my family. Being a flight attendant allowed me to explore new lands and still have a home base.

What do you do now?

I’m a lawyer. After flying I went to work at the National Congress of American Indians in their think tank the Policy Research Center. I then attended Stanford Law School. I clerked for the Alaska Supreme Court, for Justice Dana Fabe. I am now finishing a second clerkship for the Honorable William H. Walls in the Federal District Court of New Jersey. In the coming months I’ll be starting at WilmerHale, a litigation firm in Washington DC. I am a founding board member of the Native Amicus Briefing Project, a non-profit started with some of my law school friends. We provide amicus brief support for cases relating to Native American law. [This interview was conducted in August 2013]

Final words?

I remember when I told my parents I was going to be a Philosophy major my Dad was baffled, and disappointed I didn’t choose a major like Economics. To him, Philosophy sounded obscure, misguided, and indulgent. But being a Philosophy major was the best choice I made at Princeton. Philosophy opened my eyes to an honest kind of thinking – no fluff, just analytics. I wasn’t the best student, or the most disciplined, but I have always appreciated my time spent grappling with meta-ethics. This deep thinking gives me confidence to try unorthodox paths, and gives me an assurance of authenticity when I choose common paths. My Dad has since come around to my kind of thinking, and I have found that Philosophy has opened more doors professionally than I could have imagined. Plus, it just sounds really cool at dinner parties.