During his Hamilton days, Teddy Altman '15, far right, leads a tour of the Wellin Museum.

On the first day of the civil procedures course, students examined a case in which a judge spoke of the “sword of Damocles,” a reference that was perfectly clear to Teddy Altman ’15 but not, it seems, to the rest of his Boston College Law School class.

“I knew what the sword of Damocles was because I’d studied it in art history. And I was the only one in the room who knew what that was and who understood the reference,” Altman recalls. (The sword of Damocles comes from an ancient Greek parable.) The content Altman studied at Hamilton can come in handy, but even more fundamental are the critical thinking skills he acquired.

He makes a case for students to study what appeals to them in college, as he did. He remembers an architectural history course about utopian societies, with sociology, economics, and history majors, that produced some of the best conversations he’s ever had. Any course of study at Hamilton will lay the foundation a student needs to do well, so why shouldn’t students study what they really want to? Altman posits.

“I think really that’s what college is all about. You shouldn’t be thinking about, ‘What’s going to set me up the best to be most the most successful and make the most money?’” he says. “Because it’s all going to set you up to do well — as long as you’re smart and self-motivated, which I think every Hamilton student is.”

Post college, Altman took a job in the Bronx District Attorney’s Office, working in its Bureau of Child Abuse and Sex Crimes. “I decided I wanted to go to law school mainly because I like the idea of using critical thinking skills every day at the job. Essentially what lawyers do all day every day is analyze problems, make arguments, read documents, gather information, and that’s exactly what I wanted to do,” he says.

This summer, Altman is a summer associate at Alston & Bird in New York City.

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