Michael Joyce, B.A. 2003

Partner, Oranswell Realty Partners – Ashburn, VA

2003 Major: Classical Languages and Classical Civilizations; minor in Economics

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

"My training in the Classics has helped me immensely. There are a number of productive avenues down which I could fruitfully answer this question; I'll pursue two. The benefit of having studied the Classics that comes most immediately to mind has to do with the Critical Thinking skills that the Classics develops. In my career, I have faced many dilemmas where there seemed no good options but I was being forced to make a decision. I have found that the critical thinking skills developed in the Classics classroom have helped me to analyze a given situation and, more often than not, recognize that a certain path was superior to the rest. The analysis of such situations begins with finding the "right question" to ask; I think I learned this in particular in one-on-one dialogue with professors outside of class. (As an undergrad, I really valued the amount of time that world-class Classics professors were willing to spend with me in dialogue; I was aware at the time of just how beneficial that was to my learning.) Stepping back, and thinking of your Duke education more as "life training" than preparation for a specific career, I value the way that the Classics encouraged me to pursue my Curiosity. I've always been a curious guy; in the Classics classroom, I learned how to follow my curiosity and really dive into something all the way. This skill/habit, in my opinion, is a critical component of a happy life."

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

"Go for it. Dive into the deep end of the pool. The Classics are one of the most interesting fields out there, and there are numerous ways to benefit from them. With the Duke diploma, you'll be able to find a good job. Once there, the skills and traits that you learned while studying the Classics will come to the fore and will separate you from your peers. You'll have a slightly different perspective than the crowd - which is a *great* thing."

Michael Joyce