John Broadbent, B.A. 2014

Associate, Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, LLP – Denver, Colorado

2014 Major: Classical Civilizations with Distinction; minor in Art History

How has being a Classical Studies graduate from Duke helped shape you personally and/or professionally?

"By way of background, I am currently a transactional attorney in Denver. Prior to attending law school, I served on a small team that ran the corporate development operations of a large, publicly traded technology corporation. In that role, I managed the financial modeling and corporate valuation analysis of the many potential acquisition targets we reviewed each year. I also composed and maintained a large excel spreadsheet which analyzed the financial positions of our company in relation to our competitors. People are often perplexed as to how someone with such a humanities-intensive educational background can compete and succeed in such a hyper-technical, computational finance role when there entire degree programs designed to give one the same skillset. I explain that no career path begins with one knowing everything, that my education gave me the tools to adapt and learn quickly, and that with hard work and a good foundation in research and writing, even the steepest of learning curves can be managed. This is what a Classical Studies education offers to an unparalleled degree. I am still relatively new in my career and thus remain a work in progress. As a lawyer, examples and statistics abound regarding the relatively self-explanatory overlap of an education in Roman and Greek history with a career in the law - from knowing words' respective etymologies to understanding different governmental systems to formulating and applying arguments which someone else might have made thousands of years ago. But, in my opinion, an education in Classical Studies serves as one of the most underratedly foundational courses of study one can take as an undergraduate. Looking back at my course of study, I marvel with how interdisciplinary and multifaceted it was. In the process of learning the substance and facts about different events, it often felt like I was taking overlapping courses in political science/government, sociology, economics, military history, and a host of other subjects just by virtue of being in this single department. These have kindled lifelong passions that I hold to this day. They have made me a more whole, worldly and self-aware individual. And candidly, given the esoteric nature of the material, this knowledge makes it much easier to impress people at social events with how smart I am! More importantly, reading the Classics (especially in the original languages) exposed me to truly great writing at a young age. This in turn has made me a better writer, to such an extent that no matter where I go or with whom I come into contact, I can invariably expect a comment praising how well I communicate. In a career path that effectively prioritizes skills in communication over anything else (save for perhaps substantive legal expertise), my ability to write has taken me to places no one had even conceived were possible for someone in my physical condition. Thus, my Classical education has empowered me in a very real sense to be the trailblazer I am for people with physical disabilities. And my trail is only just at its beginning."

What advice would you give students in Duke's Classical Studies programs? 

"If some particular aspect of what you are reading stands out to you, please do not be afraid to find more on that topic. Nourish that spark of curiosity. Your time in college presents a wonderful opportunity to shape the foundation off of which you will build a career. The time you invest in seeking more knowledge (whatever it is) has a tendency to open doors one would have never thought were possible."

John Broadbent