Where They Were Before: Rachel Fredericks' 'curious' journey
Editor's Note: Where They Were Before is a Ball State Daily News series profiling various professors and their lives before teaching.
As a little girl growing up in a small town in Iowa, Rachel Fredericks had no idea she would one day end up being an assistant professor of philosophy at Ball State University.
Fredericks is easily bored, but describes herself as "curious." Things are interesting at first, but eventually they lose their luster, that "wow" factor, and she goes searching for something else.
"I didn't really even know that [being a professor] was a thing," Fredericks said. "I knew things I didn't want to be. I thought when I was younger that I wanted to be an artist, but once I got serious, that was a no."
What she did know, however, was cultural tension. Fredericks' hometown was split between different viewpoints in a way she describes as "unusual."
One-half of her community was made up of third-generation conservative farmers, but the rest of the town was a variety of followers that stood behind an Indian guru, or spiritual guide.
"There was a lot of tension between the communities and I didn't quite fit into either one," she said.
While trying to fit in with her community and searching for something new and fresh, Fredericks was given a writing assignment that led her to discover her interest in philosophy.
"I'd heard about philosophy, but I didn't know anything about it," she said. "It was hard, but it wasn't boring and that was huge for me."
Fredericks went on to study philosophy at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. While the college also fostered a small community, Fredericks was able to thoroughly enjoy herself.
"I loved it," she said. "It was the best decision I ever made. It was small and it drew some crazy people, but I loved that. There was always something new and exciting going on. Weirdos are my people."
Since then, Fredericks has published philosophical works in journals, created her own website and traveled across four continents.
"I like going places that will be different," she said. I think it's good to get out of your comfort zone."
While traveling, however, Fredericks prefers to enjoy her trip without taking pictures.
"I'm not a photo-taking person," she said. "I'm there for the experience, not to prove to other people that I was there."
In 2015, Fredericks traveled to Muncie and began working at Ball State.
"It's hard to say only one thing about Rachel," said Annmarie Adams, administrative coordinator for the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies. "She's always very pleasant to be around. You can count on her to get the job done. She's great."
Fredericks has a hard time choosing just one thing to love about Ball State. Through all the different aspects of the university, she hopes to continue to learn and grow every day and avoid being bored.