Wint Huskey (SFGI10) on Great Books and Justice
July 29, 2020 | By Eve Tolpa
When Wintfred Huskey (SFGI10) was studying literature as an undergraduate at Evergreen State College in Washington, “I kept running into these allusions that I might be able to identify but not do anything with,” he recalls. For example, “The Sound and the Fury got its title from a line in Macbeth, but I couldn’t elaborate on what that might signify because I never read it in school.”
Somewhat ironically, that disconnect helped lead him to St. John’s. Describing himself as “a self-motivated reader from an early age [who] had an enormous blind spot in my education when it came to ‘classics,’” Huskey found that the St. John’s Masters of Liberal Arts program provided the missing piece within a familiar pedagogical structure (his classes at Evergreen were also discussion-based).
“My original priority at St. John’s was to actually read the texts that it was assumed I’d already read,” he says. “My goals were met right away, and I was highly satisfied.”
After completing the Graduate Institute program, Huskey spent about five years in Philadelphia’s school system working with students from kindergarten age through high school. During that time he also wrote on a freelance basis, with pieces appearing in the Oxford American, Rust Belt Rising Almanac, and Asteroid Belt Almanac. His novel, Blowin’ It—which follows a protagonist in the midst of a quarter-life crisis on a road trip from Pennsylvania to New Mexico—was published in 2014.
Shortly after, he moved to Northern California and secured a paralegal position at the Justice & Diversity Center (JDC) of the Bar Association of San Francisco, which administers programs relating to immigration, tenants’ rights, domestic violence, and medical-legal assistance, to name a few. Huskey was involved in JDC’s Community Organization Representation Project (CORP), which gave pro bono assistance to small nonprofits helping underserved communities with legal transactions.
“It was a really inspiring environment to work in every day,” he says. As his first foray into the legal field, CORP was “an ideal program, because it touched several different areas of law and allowed me to work with nonprofit clients fighting against injustice on every front imaginable.”
Not surprisingly, Huskey increasingly looks back at his time at the St. John’s Graduate Institute through the lens of justice. He would like to see the college “face head-on the tangled relationship between so many of the works on the reading list and their relationship to systemic racism,” he says. “A huge part of that has to be making faculty and student diversity a priority, otherwise these discussions won’t get too far.”
Huskey also relates his St. John’s education—both its message and its medium, so to speak—to other aspects of his job: “There’s a lot of overlap between Euclidean geometry and the law, at least just in the sense of starting with basic definitions and rules to create something more and more complex.”
“Beyond serving as a helpful analogue when I’m studying something, I also think the [St. John’s] experience of explaining and defending your thoughts to a room of a dozen or so people—who are all very intelligent and referencing the same text—helps me to avoid stress or anxiety around having my work reviewed, or participating in meetings or presentations,” he adds.
Huskey currently works as a paralegal at a small Bay Area firm that specializes in representing pension plans. He spends a lot of time reviewing documents and drafting responses—relying “quite a bit on my experience from St. John’s when I come across something that seems totally incomprehensible after my first scan through it,” he says.
In such circumstances, Huskey often finds himself invoking a personal mantra that might sound familiar to many Johnnies, regardless of career path: “If you can work your way through Vico and Hegel, you can manage this.”