Zest for challenge drives Esther Gabriel in philosophy, lacrosse

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet All-SUNYAC Second Team lacrosse midfielder Esther Gabriel, a three-time captain as well as an honors program major in philosophy with a logic minor.

Q. Where are you from?
A. Lancaster. It’s east of Buffalo, a suburb. I went to Lancaster High School.

Q. Why did you choose SUNY Oswego?
A. I knew I wanted to do something in law enforcement, whether it was a criminal justice major or pre-law. I wanted to go away from home, but not too far. Lacrosse got me here, for sure. I applied to SUNY Oswego because that previous summer, Coach (Brandi) Lusk saw me at a summer tournament and she expressed interest. When it came time to make a decision, I thought to myself, “Well, she wants me to play for her team, so that’s where I’m going to go.”

Q. Why did you opt for our honors program?
A. Because I’d always been a part of honors programs in high school, I thought that was the next natural step—to hold myself to that standard in college, too. There’s more accountability. The classes you take throughout the program are more challenging, and I think the material is more in depth. There are people from all walks of life—people I never would have otherwise met—in the honors program.

Q. When did you settle on a philosophy major, and why?
A. I came in as a public justice major. My spring semester of freshman year, I took “Theory of Knowledge,” a philosophy course, as a Gen Ed. Just something about it—being trained to think in a different way, speak in a different way, write in a different way—was challenging, in a good way. I couldn’t wait to go to class that day. It incorporated all the things that I love—reading, writing, thinking out loud, discussions. I thought it was a no-brainer—my parents didn’t—but I thought if I’m going to spend four years here, I’m doing something that I’m in love with.

Q. What do you think of your professors at SUNY Oswego?
A. I look up to a lot of them, especially professor (Craig) Delancey in the philosophy department. All of my professors in philosophy, they specialize in different fields, but they are all so passionate about what they do. I love speaking with them, not only in class, but out of class, about anything. It’s encouraging to see at this stage of my life that they are so interested in what they do. I want to get to that point. I admire them for their academic and their intellectual stature in my life.

Q. What are you thinking about for a post-graduation path?
A. I know for certain that I want to go to law school. I have talked with a few professors about starting that process. It’s a little late in the game, but that doesn’t bother me, because I think I’m going to take another year to get more experience beneath my belt as far as shadowing attorneys in different firms or different organizations.

Q. What is something you’ve learned from philosophy that has stuck with you?
A. Having an open mind and being able to look at different ethical theories, situations, anything that you’re dealing with. Whether in a reading or in a class discussion, you have to be able to look at it from all angles. I really value that. Being able to think like that and to open myself up to other viewpoints, whether I agree or disagree, I think that’s really helped me to deal with friends, family, lacrosse—any type of situation. It’s made me a more, I would say, experienced person and I’ve become more grateful of other people and what they have to say. Sometimes it gets me in trouble—sometimes someone will ask me a question and I’ll give a novel’s worth of an answer. (Laughs.)

Q. How do you balance the demands of lacrosse with honors philosophy?
A. I follow what my Dad told me, and that’s, “One thing at a time. Don’t look too far into the future. Take one task as it comes. You set your plans and you set your priorities, but don’t get too far ahead of yourself and just take it as it comes.” I think that’s really helped me throughout my college career.

Q. What was the single most exciting moment of your lacrosse career?
A. Freshman year, I woke up from a nap and I didn’t see the email: Coach was introducing the captains for the next year, and I was one. Me being a freshman, it wasn’t even a twinkle in my eye. It blew me away—it was the end of my freshman year, I had a pretty good season, and I got this amazing honor from my previous captains, my coaches and my teammates. That was one of my favorite moments, knowing that I had a family behind me that respected me as much as they did. I’ve always tried to remember that moment and tried to give as much back as I could to my teammates.

Q. As one of the captains for the third straight year, what’s the top goal?
A. To make playoffs. We get closer each year, and it’s always within our grasp. I think we have the right chemistry on and off the field, and we all are excited to accomplish that goal. I absolutely think it’s possible for us.

Q. What do you like to do with your free time?
A. I love to run. Whether I’m pushing myself for a time or I’m just going to run along the river, I just love going running—it’s my own thing. I’m a big music person. I love discovering and listening to new music. I went to Lollapalooza, the music festival in Chicago, this summer. That was quite the experience. I would do that again hands down in a heartbeat. Sophomore year, during the fall semester, I was on the Image Step team—my sister and I had watched a movie called “Step Up.” I wasn’t quite so busy in the fall, so I thought, “Why not try it?” I got to perform at the ALANA Fashion Show that fall.

Q. What can you tell us about your family?
A. I have two brothers and one sister. I’m second oldest. My Mom is a baker at Wegmans. My Dad works at GHD (engineering consultants) as a database analyst.