Austin Hakes ('08)
Lawyer and military officer, US Marine Corps
When did you graduate, what was your major and minor, and what are you doing now?
I graduated in December of 2008. I was a triple-major in history, philosophy, and classical studies. I had no minors. I am a newly commissioned officer in the United States Marine Corps. Currently, I'm working as a judicial clerk on the Michigan Supreme Court. When I finish this position, I will return to active-duty military service to work as a judge advocate for the Marines.
Why did you choose to major in history at Calvin?
I chose to major in history at Calvin because I found the discipline too interesting to resist. I had essentially no interest in history until I took a required introductory history course. After that, I took an interim course on the history of genocide. At that point, I was hooked.
I also thought that a history major would work well with my majors in philosophy and classical studies. I found these disciplines to be mutually reinforcing. Without fail, progress in one of these disciplines would lead me to new insights in another.
How did your time at Calvin prepare you for what you are doing now?
Calvin provided me with an intellectually tested Christian worldview. This has been a constant source of comfort, guidance, and resilience during overseas military service, law school, and legal work.
Calvin also helped develop my skills as a reader and a writer. When I began law school, some of my classmates felt overwhelmed by the volume of reading. I did not. My professors at Calvin required me to constantly read, summarize, and analyze a high volume of scholarly work across a broad range of subjects. This was excellent preparation for legal study and legal practice. The skills I now employ as a lawyer are simply a refined version of the research, reading, and writing skills that my professors at Calvin helped me to develop.
What are your plans for the future?
I will be clerking at the Michigan Supreme Court through the summer of 2014. After that, I will return to active duty with the Marine Corps. Once I graduate from Naval Justice School, I'll begin work as a judge advocate. I hope to work in criminal litigation, both as trial counsel (i.e. military prosecution) and defense counsel.
What are some of your memories of the Calvin History department?
"Great discussion" is overriding theme of my memories of the Calvin history department. Calvin history classes were both engaging and instructive. Outside of class, all of my Calvin history professors were very generous with their time. Really. All of them. I honestly spent hours talking to professors after class and during office visits. I remain indebted to my history professors for their guidance, advice, and instruction. My classmates were also fantastic people to learn with. They were fun and interesting people that made me want to be a better history student and to put my degree to good use.
Do you have any advice for current students or those thinking of majoring in history at Calvin?
If you're thinking about studying history at Calvin my advice is simple: you should definitely study history at Calvin! A history major is a wonderful complement to pretty much any other major. Standing alone, a history major can prepare you well for graduate work in the humanities or for a legal career. If your experience is anything like mine, you'll look back on your classes in the Calvin history department as some of the best you've ever taken.