Through a love of learning and an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, sophomore Augustus “Gus” Wachbrit has immersed himself academically and socially while attending California Lutheran University.
Wachbrit is a Thousand Oaks, California native double majoring in philosophy and English. Wachbrit is also part of the honors program at Cal Lutheran and works as an English departmental assistant. Additionally, he is a social science communications intern at SAGE Publishing.
Lacey Davidson, an assistant professor of philosophy, said Wachbrit is an essential contributor to the “class culture” in the metaphysics class that she teaches.
“Even though the material is really difficult, they [students] are really supportive of each other and I think Gus really contributes to that feeling in the classroom. He’s willing to explain things to his classmates, he’s willing to like joke when it gets hard,” Davidson said.
Davidson said Wachbrit produces “graduate level philosophy work” that inspired her to encourage him to submit his work to Stance: An International Undergraduate Philosophy Journal.
“Gus is an excellent student. He’s very vigilant,” Davidson said.
Wachbrit’s passion for philosophy runs in the family. Wachbrit’s father previously worked as a philosophy professor for universities including University of California, Los Angeles and California State University, Fullerton. However, Wachbrit said his father’s work had little influence on his decision to pursue philosophy. In fact, Wachbrit said he and his father have many philosophical disagreements.
“It’s weird because I think that I was attracted to [philosophy] of my own volition,” Wachbrit said. “This was kind of a gift and a curse. [My father] was so profoundly indifferent towards whether or not I would achieve or do anything. He didn’t really care, which was freeing.”
Wachbrit said he was attracted to philosophy because of the way it allows him to discover and explore questions regarding issues people go through.
“With philosophy…it seemed like a lot of people were not only talking about really real human issues…but they were trying to address it in a way that I felt I never really got from any other discipline,” Wachbrit said.
Wachbrit received a Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship to study the effects of philosophy education on the critical thinking skills of pre-college students in 2019. For this research he worked with two fellow students, Katie Knapp and Lindy Ortiz. Wachbrit’s faculty adviser for this research was Cynthia DeMartino the director of the Center for Teaching and Learning and Brian Collins, assistant professor in philosophy. He was later selected as one of six students to present his findings at the Student Research Symposium in October 2019.
Katie Knapp, one of the students who worked alongside Wachbrit during the summer fellowship, said working with Wachbrit was fun and full of jokes. She said she recalled many laughs shared with Wachbrit over philosophy memes and other shared memories during their research.
“He’s definitely hardworking and super easy to work with and fun to work with. We all had a good time working together,” Knapp said.
Long-time friend Michael Moss, a Cal Lutheran sophomore, said Wachbrit is a source of inspiration to him because of his academic success. Moss described Wachbrit as incredibly work-oriented, focused and quick-witted.
“One of the things that he emphasizes a lot, because he’s a philosophy major, is the greatest good in his life has pretty consistently been like taking pride in getting substantial things done and working towards goals that he sets for himself. So, even if I don’t put that into practice quite as stringently as he does, it’s something I really respect about him,” Moss said.
Wachbrit said he plans to continue his studies and eventually get his doctorate in philosophy. Until then, he plans to “continue shaping his own expectations” and expanding his knowledge.
“I was brought here into this weird world. I wanna know what’s going on. I really want to be informed about the world. I’m here, so I might as well just try as hard as I can,” Wachbrit said.