Joseph Van Zanten Gallagher ’14


From SPU to King’s College London

Grad Student at One of the World’s Top 20 Universities

Most students don’t choose extra homework — especially if that student already has two majors and is a University Scholar. But Joseph Van Zanten Gallagher, who double-majored in Political Science and Philosophy, loved using his free time to study.

Rebekah Rice, assistant professor of philosophy, says that he would make appointments with her to discuss what he was learning outside of class. 

“That’s some of the best stuff when you’re in this occupation,” she says.

Professor Emeritus of English Luke Reinsma encouraged Joseph both to join the University Scholars program and to study abroad for a semester at Oxford University. “I’m pleased Joe took up the challenge,” Reinsma says. “The papers that we ask the honors students to write prepare them for the papers they have to write at Oxford.”  

While in England, Joseph hid away in the same reading room where parts of Harry Potter were filmed, and estimates he spent between 60 and 80 hours per week in a library with a stack of books. “That’s when I decided that I enjoyed delving into old books and discovering things. I also loved the high-pressure atmosphere. Everyone was brilliant, and you had to be brilliant to keep up with them.”

That’s where Joseph first considered King’s College London, one of the top 20 colleges in the world. He is currently working on a master’s in international relations.   

“SPU did a fantastic job preparing me for graduate school,” Joseph says. “Professors helped me expand what I thought was possible.”


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When freshmen join University Scholars, they begin a rigorous liberal-arts learning adventure. Says one student, "UScholars was an incredible learning community that reached outside the classroom."