Ivel Posada Martinez '14

Ivel Posada Martinez profile photoLegislative Fellow, United States Senate; McMaster Carr

Thesis Title: Our Divine Charter: The Sacred Dimensions of the American Constitution

Whenever we are asked to identify the highlight of our Social Studies experience, the thesis or works from major theorists like Marx and Nietzsche likely rank highly. All of that was also important to me, but my highlight came unexpectedly, in the middle of the night, when I sat alone in my dorm room reading The Elementary Forms of Religious Life by Emile Durkheim. The cover and synopsis of that book were deceptively boring, so I was completely caught off guard by the content that followed – thoughts that eventually came to powerfully reshape my views on religion, morals, and law. The profundity of Durkheim’s thinking on the social origins of the sacred, along with his literary verve, captivated me the whole of that evening, and never really loosened their hold. The feelings of that moment can best be conveyed by Caspar Friederich’s famed 19th century Romantic painting, Wanderer Above the Sea of Fog. Something in that painting captures, for me, so much of what makes scholarship, and my own reading of Durkheim, so terribly exciting: its occasional solitude, the physical and emotional labors that attend even the most cursory perusal of foundational theoretic texts, and, perhaps most importantly, the unique satisfaction that comes from reaching some new height of understanding which, forever after, allows us to see the world as it truly is, rather than as we would imagine it to be.    

Social Studies nurtured a confidence that my penchant for interdisciplinary thinking (in short, the very essence of curiosity) was not some burden that needed discarding in favor of hyper-specialization. Rather, I grew in the understanding that passion for diverse fields of inquiry is an indispensable ingredient for success in life, whether it be in one’s career, hobbies, or relationships.     

I have done four wildly different things these last four years: I’ve served as the Science Department Chair for the Henderson Inclusion School through Teach for America in Boston, received a Master’s of History in China Studies as a Yenching Scholar at Peking University in Beijing, served as a Legislative Fellow to Senator Ben Sasse in D.C., and, most recently, accepted a position with McMaster-Carr as part of their management trainee program in Chicago where I hope to complete a part-time MBA program while learning more about MRO enterprises. Social Studies helped me understand that career trajectories, like academic inquiry in general, is not always a neatly linear process – exploring disparate fields helps us develop unique insights and deliberative postures that only arise from diverse academic and professional backgrounds.