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Senior Story 2021: Philosophy Major to Put Principles into Practice in Ireland
May 18, 2021

Name: Maureen Elizabeth Shumay

Hometown: Cleveland, Ohio

Major: Philosophy with Biopsychology Concentration

Notable UD Memories/Achievements: For memories, an infamous thrift store party her freshman year; she pulled off a glamorous ’80s look while her randomly assigned partner, John Flaherty, BA ’21, sported her choice of women’s biking attire: “Although we barely knew each other then, we’ve become close friends since. But this still remains one of my favorite memories from freshman year.” Academically: “I have to say, one of the best feelings as a student is doing well in a very difficult class with a professor who knows you and pushes you. There’s nothing like seeing a solid grade for a class that you really worked hard for and knowing that the professor gave it to you because they saw that you were learning the material.”

Future Plans: Spending a year as an assistant for the L’Arche Kilkenny Community in Kilkenny, Ireland.

This is the fourth in a series of 10 stories that will be published to highlight the achievements of some of our seniors in the Class of 2021.

Like many UD students, Maureen (Mo) Shumay, BA ’21, first heard of UD through one of her older siblings, a sister who graduated in 2013. Initially, Shumay wasn’t keen on attending UD because she wanted to avoid following in her sister’s footsteps and being compared to her once again. She also had a somewhat subpar campus visit the Monday after Groundhog, though she now appreciates why everyone on campus looked so exhausted!

When it came down to the decision deadline, Shumay couldn’t get all the lively, unpretentious and well-rounded alumni she had met over the years out of her mind. She appreciated how UD was a solid Catholic school but would also provide her with the freedom to develop her own habits and opinions.

On a whim, she made a deposit to UD even though she still wasn’t sold on the school. She asked the Lord to send her a clear sign if she shouldn’t be there. On the contrary, by her second week on campus, Shumay had received so many positive signs that she knew she was exactly where she was supposed to be.

Throughout her time at UD, Shumay became a very well-rounded Crusader, not unlike the alumni who had originally drawn her to the school, balancing a fulfilling social life with serious academic pursuits. Her favorite social memories include frolicking at Groundhogs, traveling through Europe, singing at Caphouses, watching the sun set over Dallas from SB Hill with a dear friend, and having Super Dave and UD Police Chief Russ Greene learn her name. 

Shumay participated in the UD Chorale, Lyric Theater, Senior Studios, intramurals and UD Schola. This past year, she was also a UD Admissions Campus Visit intern, an officer for the Ozanam Project and a Senior Committee member. 

“UD’s education, from the Core to my major classes and all the other random classes I decided to take in between, has shaped me not only as a student, but also most profoundly as a person,” said Shumay. “At the heart of UD’s unique approach is the recognition that its students aren’t only potential future workers or future members of society, but also that each is a developing person and potential future saint.”

Shumay had attended a classical high school and suspected she would enjoy studying philosophy more, but when she came to UD, she was torn between majoring in psychology or philosophy. After her first semester, she felt a stronger passion for philosophy and was hooked.

Her favorite academic memories include having teachers such as Associate Professor of Philosophy Lance Simmons, Ph.D., in Symbolic Logic and St. John Paul II Teaching Fellow in Social Thought Ryan Anderson, Ph.D., in New Natural Law Theory, who set high standards and inspired her to work harder.

There have been many naysayers who’ve asked Shumay what she could do with an impractical philosophy degree. However, she maintains that learning to think more critically has been very practical indeed, in addition to sharpening her writing and speaking skills. 

She’s also thankful for all of her professors, most recently Associate Professor of Philosophy Matt Walz, Ph.D., and adjunct instructor William Stigall, M.D., MA ’09, who have guided her with classes, future career plans, and how to live joyfully and well.

“Maureen is the model UD student,” said Stigall. “She is bright and curious and articulates things clearly and rationally with charity. She lives her principles and applies what she has learned to make the world a better place.”

Shumay credits the example of her professors: “One of the most unique things about being a student at UD is getting to form relationships with these amazing professors and being able to witness how they live out their philosophies and morals through their actions. It’s extremely inspiring!”

Starting in August, Shumay will spend a year as an assistant for the  L’Arche Kilkenny community in Kilkenny, Ireland. The L’Arche is a private organization where people with and without intellectual disabilities live in community, fostering friendships and sharing in life together. When she returns to the U.S., she plans to further her education in the realm of psychology or biopsychology.

“In my own experience, I’ve seen how my education in philosophy and biopsychology has shaped how I see human persons and their being in the world, including the person as an embodied soul — the two deeply interconnected in both physiological and metaphysical ways — and men as beings in the world to which the intelligibility of the world is opened up,” concluded Shumay. “It’s amazing! This formation, again, has not only influenced me as a student, but has also influenced my daily life and potential future career path.”

 
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