Miami 2005 graduate and Harrison Scholar, Michael Seifried, and 2006 graduate, Melissa (Schwind) Seifried were high school and college sweethearts who became a Miami Merger in 2010. Both found participating in the Honors Program at Miami University to be one of many positive steps in their lives.
Michael, a Philosophy major and German minor, spent a year after he graduated in Vienna Austria as a Joanna Jackson Goldman Memorial Prize winner. During this time, he studied the moral and political relevance of Arnold Schoenberg’s music. He is currently working on his dissertation – an exploration of the moral contributions of the arts and humanities to democracy through a theory of political education – as a doctoral student in Columbia University’s highly regarded Philosophy program. Aside from teaching philosophy in underserved schools in Harlem, Detroit, and Cleveland, Michael has co-founded the Columbia University Philosophy Outreach program which integrates philosophy into grade schools in seven different New York schools.
Melissa’s path has been very similar to Michael’s continued passion for learning. As a Botany major with a Pre-Medicine focus and a side interest in Sociology, Melissa pursued her own research opportunities in Dr. John Kiss’s lab as part of her Undergraduate Summer Scholars research at Miami. She later presented her findings at a conference in New York City. She also took part in the MEDStart program at University of Toledo, where she went to medical school. She is currently pursuing her residency at William Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan, with a focus in pediatrics.
Both residents of the Tappan and Bishop residence halls, Michael and Melissa trace their success after graduation back to their experiences at Miami and their participating in the Honors Program. Together, they applied for funding and created a program at Miami called the University Lyceum, which organized lectures for faculty to discuss their academic fields and research, and also brought in artists, speakers, and a variety of cultural opportunities to Miami. The Lyceum gave the pair the opportunity to interact closely with a wide variety of academic and cultural intellectuals followed by a traditional after-party visit to Steinkellers to continue their discussions. The program helped build critical skills in applying for funding, leading and coordinating an organization, and helped Michael and Melissa positively affect the institution that helped them.
The Seifrieds agree that Miami’s Honors Program allowed them to pursue powerful learning opportunities beyond the requirements of the major alone. In fact, they cite this learning as particularly important in their current pursuits. Melissa says her Botany degree and interests in Sociology are what set her apart during her interviews for residency programs with most of her competition being all Zoology or Microbiology majors. In contrast, Melissa drew from her diverse interests saying that “[s]ome of my honors classes were my most memorable,” including honors courses that explored Faust, the phenomenon of forgetting, and the question, “What is Freedom?”
According to Michael, “[a]nytime you apply for anything in life, it’s the seemingly useless fluff that is essential to your success in future applications.” Whether it was working directly with faculty throughout the university on independent studies, his efforts with the Lyceum, or just the rigor of his Philosophy education, Michael feels that Miami allowed him to stand out as an individual. Additionally, being an Honors Program member and Harrison Scholar helped opened doors from him throughout his education. Michael credits the valuable process of reflection and the structure of the Honors Program for helping to create a foundation for self-discipline that allowed him to succeed in the sink-or-swim atmosphere of New York as a doctoral student.
What’s next for this illustrious couple? From a career standpoint, once Michael finishes his PhD program at Columbia, he plans to apply for academic positions. You can follow what Michael is up to on his website ( http://michael-seifried.com/ ). In the meantime, Melissa plans to finish her residency and begin looking for a position somewhere near Michael.
We’re also happy to announce that Michael and Melissa have welcomed a new addition to their family: their son Maximilian Matthias Anton Seifried, born April 21, 2011. Congratulations! Given his parents’ success, we know baby Maximilian will no doubt accomplish great things once he grows. We can only hope to include him in one of our future Miami University’s Honors Program classes!