Zaire Armstrong

Kresge '20, philosophy and language studies

Zaire Armstrong, 22, is this year’s winner of the David A. Kadish Humanities Scholarship Award, which recognizes deserving students with a strong interest in the study of humanities.

This scholarship is generously funded through gift funds from Cowell alumnus David Kadish (history '73).

Armstrong’s study of philosophy—and, in particular, existentialism—helped ground and focus her studies, moving her toward a greater sense of purpose and clarity.

“As with many of my freshman peers, I suppose the idea that I should be at school was a lot clearer than why,” she said, referring to her early experience at UC Santa Cruz.

“Eventually philosophy came to not only captivate my attention, but contextualize my purpose for learning,” Armstrong said. “I could even go so far as to say the vastness and diversity of philosophical theories (collectively) provided me with the comfort that no one, not even the philosophers who make it their job, can really understand the ‘fundamental nature’ of existence."

Delving deeply into philosophy was a kind of awakening for her.

“In the infinite possibility of self-determined existentialist realities, I not only found an enthusiasm for philosophy, but also a confidence and passion for learning in general,” she said.

Armstrong hopes that her courses on ethics in government can be put to use when she attends law school.

“I'm keen on learning about how these theories apply and/or contradict the law, and though my goal beyond that isn't fleshed out yet, I'm sure that I'll continue to consult reflections and lessons of my time in undergrad to guide me,” she said.