What gives expressions or statements the meaning that they have?
How do we capture what it is to share meaning and to use terms meaningfully?
Jon Keyzer first started to explore these questions during his Masters at Colorado State University much of which he based in response to the work of Professor Alex Miller. It was Alex Miller’s expertise that led Jon to the Department of Philosophy at the University of Otago to complete his PhD in the Philosophy of Language.
“Coming to the University of Otago was such a long shot, I applied to so many United States universities, but when I asked whether Alex would advise me and he said yes, I knew I had to come.”
“The University surpassed my expectations in every possible way, I expected it to be good but what I got was great. It’s like the path to success is paved – all you need to do is commit and be passionate.”
The benefits of being a PhD student at the University are numerous Jon says; the scholarship which is “on par, if not better than anything offered in the States”, the opportunity to travel to international conferences, the support from the international office and the graduate research school, and the ability to tutor are just a few.
“In the States you can be a teaching assistant, helping with marking and advice but the ability to lead discussions and do your own lesson planning – I didn’t have that opportunity before. I have learned so much in terms of what classroom strategies work.”
Jon has been in Dunedin for two and a half years and has fallen in love with the place.
“I’m very proud to be an honourary citizen of Dunedin. It’s a disproportionately cool city in terms of its size. The tramping, the mountain biking, everything is incredible. I remember flying in on the plane, seeing the harbour and peninsula and thinking ‘oh my gosh when can I get on a bike’.”
Biking is something Jon is very passionate about, he volunteers for SPOKES Dunedin (a local cycling advocacy group) and has recently cycled the length of the country. The event involved 300 people riding 3000 kms of back country mountain bike tracks in 30 days.
“It’s one of the best things I’ve done in my life - I got to see parts of New Zealand some of my Kiwi friends hadn’t even seen.”
Cycling the length of the country is a feat in itself but doing it in the middle of a PhD is a whole other challenge.
“I worked really hard to be there for that month and knew it would be straight back into it when I got back – I finished the event on the Saturday and was tutoring on the Monday.”
Jon submits his PhD in October but he hopes this isn’t the end of his time at Otago.
“My time here has shed light on what I can do and what I am capable of, I wouldn’t have known that without my supervisor, without my department and without a community of supporting peers, and I am grateful for that.”
“I don’t think it’s the end for me here, I’d love to stay on indefinitely but I’m keeping my options open, that’s the great thing, my time at Otago can take me anywhere.”