What do you do?
I’m currently an assistant professor of political science at Whitworth University in Spokane WA where I teach courses on African politics, comparative politics, and development.
How do you see the connection between the time you spent as a Politics/IR major and what you’ve been able to do since?
My research is focused on east Africa where I study civil society and youth citizenship. My time as a student in the politics department at Ursinus directly prepared me to pursue this career. Through demanding courses with encouraging professors, I learned how to think and write critically and carefully. Yet, even more importantly, my faculty and fellow students challenged me to pursue my interests in democratization, African politics, and development issues. I not only learned about comparative politics and international relations theory in class, but I was pushed to connect it to real life, to develop and maintain a deep curiosity about the world around me. These are the skills and characteristics that helped me persist through the long years of graduate school and the challenges of teaching my own courses.
What advice do you have for students currently majoring in, or considering to major in Politics or IR?
If you are majoring in IR, or thinking about it, my best advice is to
- study widely by seeking out courses that go beyond your initial interests. For example, the Chinese politics course I took at Ursinus helped me to become a better African politics scholar and I reference content from that course in my teaching today.
- Apply for everything. Remember that nothing ventured means nothing gained and apply for grants, fellowships, internships, and other learning experiences at every opportunity. You won’t get everything you try for, but you’ll learn a great deal about yourself and develop valuable skills during the process.
- Develop a habit now of following a high-quality news source every day (read or listen > watching). Take responsibility for knowing what’s going on in the world and bring that knowledge into the classroom with you.