Stellar Student: Stephen Wilke

During the spring semester of his freshman year at Missouri State, Stephen Wilke Lay in a hospital bed being treated for heart inflammation.

Junior Stephen Wilke overcame a battle with depression and is the president and founder of the Lyceum. The Lyceum is a Philosophy club open to all students that meets weekly in the Morris University Center. (Photo by Joe Lacdan)

That same year, he endured an ongoing battle with chronic depression because of family problems, Wilke said.

Three years later, Wilk, now an SIUE junior, said he has control of his depression. Next spring, he is scheduled to graduate with a degree in Philosophy and two minors in mass communications and classical studies. In spring 2014, he founded the Lyceum, Philosophy club open to students of all majors. The 22-year old Wilke earned the Stellar Student Award from the College of Arts and Sciences. And he recently became engaged to fellow SIUE student, Heather Counts.

“I know what I want to do now,” Wilke said. “I have a purpose that I am striving to achieve. I have the Lyceum which is awesome because it is flourishing so well since I founded it.”

Originally a music major who entered Missouri State with a full scholarship, Wilke dropped out of the Springfield. Mo., school because of his heart treatments. The Collinsville native returned to his home state and transferred to SIUE.

After changing his major five times, Wilke found his niche in Philosophy. Wilke said philosophy gave him a purpose and helped him overcome his battle with depression. Wilke chose to specialize in metaphysics, or the philosophy of reality. The 22-year old has written research papers on Identity Theory and enjoys studying the work of philosopher Judith Jarvis Thompson.

“Everybody engages in (philosophy) whether they realize it or not,” Wilke said. “They think about why they’re here … You also have to think about ethical decisions every day. So I feel like the philosophy club is a way for us to bring people in who are not philosophy major to talk about philosophy – kind of make a more open subject.”

Now as president of the Lyceum, he uses the club as a meeting ground for students to share ideas. The club meets each week in the Morris University Center for roundtable discussions or reading groups. Wilke has also invited professors to help lead discussions. As many as 30 students have attended meetings.

“I feel like the philosophy club is a way for us to bring people in who are not philosophy majors to talk about philosophy – kind of make a more open subject,” Wilke said.

“In ancient Greece, Socrates used to just walk around in the streets and engage people in philosophy, whether they were politicians or scientists of the time or anything like that. He would just walk up to them and ask them questions. So I want something like that to enhance everybody’s critical thinking skills.”

Wilke said he is currently working with the Philosophy department to organize and “ethics bowl” for high school students before the end of the spring semester. Wilke said he plans to pursue a master’s program in the Chicago area and hopes to one day teach at the undergraduate level.

Wilke said his feelings of depression may still linger, but his career goals keep him focused.

“I feel like I have somewhat overcome it,” Wilke said. “Obviously it’s something that you never really completely overcome. But I feel like it’s something you can conquer.”


Be Sociable, Share!

Filed Under: Philosophy

Tags: , , , , ,

Comments are closed.

Switch to our mobile site