By: Emily Summers, Practicum Reporter
Beginning in kindergarten, Becky Vartabedian attended 59 consecutive semesters of schooling, culminating in a Ph.D. from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh. This was no easy feat, and stands as an accomplishment not shared with many others. Among Vartabedian’s many schools and universities is Regis University, where she is currently an assistant professor.
Vartabedian teaches in the Philosophy department, the Honors Program, and the Integrative and Foundational Cores. In both attending school and teaching at Regis, Vartabedian has been well respected, according to students and colleagues.
Vartabedian found her love for philosophy while attending Regis. In high school, it hadn’t been a subject she particularly enjoyed, but during her time at Regis, things unexpectedly changed.
As a first-year student, Vartabedian took a philosophy class from Professor Karen Atkins, Ph.D., also her adviser.
Vartabedian recalls it was in Atkins’ classroom that “it just started to make sense.”
After graduating from Regis, Vartabedian attended Denver Seminary and the University of Colorado Denver before earning her Ph.D. at Duquesne University. She then taught at several universities as an adjunct faculty member before coming to Regis in 2012.
For four years, Vartabedian served as a term instructor before becoming an assistant professor, the title she currently holds. She teaches many subjects, such as philosophy and peace and justice, saying she has no particular favorite. As a professor, Vartabedian enjoys learning with her students versus merely lecturing in front of a class.
“As a teacher, I want to learn with my students and a lot of what we’re able to teach here at Regis gives us that opportunity,” Vartabedian says.
Vartabedian is well liked among her students, who used the following words to describe her: “engaging, intelligent and inspiring.” She focuses her classes on a more dialogic approach, rather than lecture-based, which has proven to be an effective and engaging method.
“I feel as though Dr. Vartabedian’s class opened my eyes to other perspectives and worldviews. Her class really showed me what Regis is all about,” says Paul Lenz, a third-year Regis student.
Although Vartabedian’s class was requirement for the third-year business major, Lenz explains that he would take the, Writing for Social Justice, class again. Despite the fact that the class had nothing to do with his major, Lenz found Vartabedian engaging.
Vartabedian’s colleagues also speak highly of her. Professor Eric Fretz, Ph.D., department chair of the Peace and Justice Studies, has taught alongside Vartabedian for several years and describes her as “brilliant, yet humble.” He explains that despite her exceptional intelligence, she carries herself with a deep level of humility, which he called rare.
“Every time I talk to Becky, I learn something I didn’t know. In addition, she just makes me feel good as a friend; I never feel talked down to,” says Fretz.
Vartabedian’s reputation extends beyond Regis’ Northwest Denver campus. She belongs to several professional organizations, including the American Philosophical Association and the Society for Philosophy in the Contemporary World. Through these and other organizations, she speaks at conferences and contributes to literary journals.
Vartabedian enjoys writing; her first book was released last year. The book, “Multiplicity and Ontology in Deleuze and Badiou,” is about “a dispute in contemporary French philosophy about the nature of being.”
She explains that the book developed from her dissertation and took about 18 months to complete. Following the release of her book, the American Philosophical Association featured her work in their “Early Career Scholar Spotlight.”
Beyond Vartabedian’s professional life, she enjoys weight lifting, baseball, and spending time with her husband, Andrew, whom she met when they were students at Regis. She met her husband while visiting a classroom for a school project. He was student teaching in that classroom.
Her husband is her greatest inspiration, Vartabedian says. He’s an artist – working in photography and ceramics – as well as an art teacher at Northglenn High School. Their relationship is full of curiosity and excitement, she says.
“He is the most interesting person and also the most curious person,” Vartabedian said. “That’s what really inspires me – curiosity.”
Another of Vartabedian’s inspirations is French philosopher Maurice Merleau-Ponty, whose work is the basis of her master’s thesis. Merleau-Ponty’s work focuses on the meaning of human experience. Vartabedian explains that her philosophical thought, along with her worldview, closely aligns with Merleau-Ponty’s philosophy. In a similar way, Vartabedian provides inspiration to her own students.