Graduation year: 2011
Major: Political science
Activities: International Relations Union, Phi Beta Delta, Global Ambassador, faculty assistant to the chair of the Department of Political Science
Post-grad plans: Pursue a Ph.D. in public policy in grad school
Are you where you thought you’d be four years ago?
I never could have guessed four years ago that I would have been a political science major. I came to Augie thinking I would be a German major, but quickly found my passion was elsewhere. As Margaret Farrar, the former chair of the political science department, told me, ‘Political science is the major no one plans for; very few people come in knowing they are going to be political science majors.’
Your peak experience?
My peak experience was going on Vietnam term. I was terrified of going to a developing country, where I didn’t speak the language (not to mention I am an indoors-air-conditioning type of girl, and it is HOT even in the winter, in Vietnam). But this was hands-down the best experience I have had. I learned so much, experienced so much and walked away with some really great lasting friendships. You cannot compare learning in a classroom with lectures in airports, on buses on steep mountain passes or the interaction with people from a different culture. Studying abroad allows you to see the world through a completely different lens.
Who helped you get to where you are now?
First, my family who has been supportive of me every time I changed my mind or took a chance. Second, the professors I have really become close with, including Dr. Mariano Magalhaes and Dr. Paul Weissburg. Dr. Magalhaes practically recruited me to political science, telling me I should try this class or that, and ultimately convincing me to go on Vietnam term. Dr. Weissburg has really helped push me academically by giving me some of the hardest assignments but also some of the most exciting and rewarding classes. When I told both professors that I wanted to go on to graduate school, they immediately helped me draft a plan, including what exam to take, how to prepare, classes I should take, and things to look for when I apply.
Anything you’d like to add?
Some of my best learning experiences have come from the time I spent off campus, including two internships with the Girl Scouts (GSEIWI) and the City Clerk’s Office in Silvis. These experiences allowed me to explore possible career options and areas of interest and boost my resume while making important connections in the community.
Advice to this fall’s incoming class (Class of 2015)?
Take whatever your expectations are, and throw them out the window. You will thank yourself later for taking a variety of classes your first two years so that you find the major that is really calling you.
“Amanda is incredibly bright and hard-working. Her papers and presentations for my classes have always been remarkably well-researched, and she has consistently chosen topics that are difficult but fascinating. She also has given her time to the political science department on numerous occasions; meeting with parents and prospective students, dining with candidates for faculty positions, etc. And she has done all of this while working part-time to help pay her way through school. Despite her young age, Amanda is someone I consider to be a colleague, rather than a student.”