Evan S. Garfein MD, '92


When you first came to Princeton, what did you think your major would be?

When I arrived at Princeton, I thought I would be some sort of science major.  I, initially, wanted to be pre-med.  I took a course with George Kateb my freshman year and was thereafter hooked on political philosophy.  That, and the fact that chemistry met really early in the morning several times each week!

What made you decide to major in philosophy?

The combination of great professors and great material were unbeatable in my eyes.

Are there any stories about your experience as a philosophy major that you’d like to share?

I signed up for a course in time travel one semester.  I thought nothing could be cooler than that.  It only took about two lectures for me to realize that I was WAY out of my depth.  It was one of several times I appreciated how intelligent my classmates were.  While I’m sure the course was fascinating (to those who could plumb the depths of that subject), I dropped it like a hot potato for Nicomachean Ethics with Dr. Frankfurt—a much better fit!

What did you do immediately after leaving Princeton?

I worked on Wall Street for about 18 months after graduation before realizing that Medicine was actually the best fit for me.  Back to school!

What do you do now?

I am a reconstructive surgeon in the Bronx, NY.  I work at Montefiore Medical Center and do a wide variety of reconstructive procedures—replacing jaws, tongues, fingers, breasts, etc.  It is an incredibly humbling, rewarding, and exciting profession and I wouldn’t change it for anything in the world. [This interview was conducted in March 2013]

Final words?

A long-overdue review of the Department of Philosophy website evokes some of the same feelings as those produced by my profession.  I am proud and humbled to be associated, however remotely, with such a wonderful group.