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Natalie Baldino

We Are Knox...

Natalie Baldino


Schaumburg, Illinois

Philosophy Major, Religious Studies Minor

In summer 2013, Natalie Baldino completed a philosophy thesis through
the McNair Program about how
trauma survivors remake their sense of identity
through the public retelling of their stories into a narrative and through the help of others. Residing in Galesburg for the summer, she was under the mentorship of Brandon Polite, Knox College visiting assistant professor in philosophy. She researched and wrote a 40-page thesis which she presented at the McNair symposium at University of California-Berkeley, and it will soon be published in the McNair Journal.

What was the process of your research? Is it ongoing?
As a philosophy thesis, my project involved reading several texts on various theories, as well as first-hand accounts of trauma. A significant portion of my summer was dedicated exclusively to reading and analyzing texts, and then later constructing my own original thesis. While this specific thesis has reached its conclusion, I think this research was only a starting point for a hopeful Honors project, as well as my area of concentration in graduate school.

What was it like to present your research at Berkeley this summer? What was that process?
Presenting my research at Berkeley was extremely fulfilling. It was amazing to be in a place with hundreds of other future graduate students as passionate about and dedicated to their research as I am. We had several workshops on applying for graduate schools, and presented our research among a couple of other scholars within similar fields. Afterward, there was a Q&A panel. I made a lot of great contacts, and got the feeling that I was meeting several people who will one day be renowned in their fields.

Can you cite an example of how your in-classroom and/or out-of-the-classroom experiences at Knox have benefited you in the project?
The Philosophy Department has prepared me well for independent research and presenting by teaching me the fundamental skills of argumentation and critically analyzing the world around me. Knox also has provided me the opportunity for an independent study the term before my summer research, which greatly prepared me for writing my thesis. The one-on-one contact I have with the professors of the Philosophy Department really made producing such a difficult work a lot less daunting.

What was the best/coolest part of your project?
Getting to work closely with Professor Brandon Polite was a great experience, and just having a finished project on something my own which I feel passionately about was extremely rewarding. Also, I'd never been to California before, so that was a bonus.

What programs or people have provided any grants, funding, or financial assistance for your project?
The McNair Program provided all financial assistance for my research. All academic assistance and mentorship came through Professor Polite.