Attorney George Emmons ’12 Reflects on His Time as an Integral Student

The Integral Program is a distinctive signature program at Saint Mary’s College: a modernized version of a traditional Great Books program. Integral students follow a comprehensive liberal arts curriculum for all four years of their time at SMC that integrates courses in literature, philosophy, history, language, science, and music. A close-knit community as well as a mini college within the College, Integral is a unique and profoundly Saint Mary’s liberal arts experience. We interviewed attorney George Emmons ’12 about his time in the Integral Program and how it helped him at SMC and life after college.

How would you describe your experience as an Integral major?

The Integral Program was engaging and thought provoking. I enjoyed coming to class each day to grapple with difficult questions and collaborate with my colleagues to ask questions and learn different viewpoints and opinions on the text we read. I felt that each day I was challenged, and no one day was the same.

What Integral course helped you the most and why?

The Integral Math Tutorial was the most helpful for me because it was the first time I could see myself constructing a logical argument and building upon each step in a logical progression. While I had incidentally developed arguments in the past, the Math Tutorial was the first time I could recognize it. Also, I never enjoyed math before but the Math Tutorial gave me a new insight into the subject and taught me that even subjects or topics that you don’t enjoy can teach you a great deal. 

How did studying liberal arts affect your outlook in your field of work?

The liberal arts taught me to be a lifelong learner and always seek to improve my mind and critical thinking. The liberal arts taught me that sometimes there are no definitive answers to a question, but the pursuit and the process of developing ideas and arguments is a beneficial endeavor. In my work as a lawyer, I constantly develop arguments and constantly seek to improve my litigation and research skills. The liberal arts was the first place I learned this and has helped me in my endeavors as a lawyer.

Why do you think studying liberal arts is important?

The liberal arts teaches you how to think critically and study a wide variety of subjects. The liberal arts helps someone understand both the similarities and differences in a wide range of disciplines and gives students a breadth of knowledge that is important to a well-rounded student and professional.

What’s your favorite memory from Integral?

I remember my Senior Science class, which involved the study of genetics. Science had never been my favorite subject, but I truly enjoyed this class because I got to see science in action and conduct a successful experiment. The experiment involved seeing genetics and dominant and recessive genes in fruit flies. I got to follow this experiment for several weeks, and it was fascinating to see science play out in front of me.

If you could say one thing to an incoming student thinking of becoming an Integral major, what would it be?

The Integral Program is a unique experience where every day is a discussion amongst your peers. If you are looking to develop skills that will last you a lifetime, like the ability to communicate, listen, and be persuasive, the Integral Program is the best way to do that. I cannot imagine a better collegiate experience than the one I had in Integral. I highly recommend the program and believe it has prepared me well for my professional career.