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Political Science

Alumni Profiles

Elias Brockman, Class of 2013 

Since graduating from Lewis and Clark College in 2013, my professional path has been influenced and shaped by my dual majors (Political Science and Philosophy) in ways that I could not have anticipated during my four years of study. A year after graduating, I found myself working at the Department of Justice as a paralegal, assisting federal prosecutors and F.B.I. agents with the investigation of some of our country’s most notorious financial crimes. My Political Science studies helped me in identifying and understanding the complex fact patterns of these cases, and my Philosophy degree was crucial for helping me analytically determine the reliability of evidence and to constantly question my assumptions. Since then, I have moved to Brooklyn, NY, worked as a data analyst at a risk management company, and am now beginning an MBA with an Accounting specialization with the goal of continuing my work as an investigator of financial crimes. On many occasions I have reflected on how my Liberal Arts education, especially my studies in the Humanities, has given me the tools for analytical thinking and reflection that have helped me succeed in the jobs I have held since graduating college. 

Katie Kowal, Class of 2017 — Science Policy Fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute

I am a Science Policy Fellow at the Science and Technology Policy Institute (STPI) in Washington, DC. STPI is a federally funded research and development center that supports the Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and a variety of federal agencies (e.g., NASA, NOAA, DoD, DHS). Projects can take many different shapes, and on any given day I may have to conduct interviews with subject matter experts, complete a technical literature review, or help an agency coordinate a subcommittee. What I love about this job is the variety and challenge of each task. I also get to interact with individuals across the federal government and dive into the inner workings of policy at the federal level.

Lewis & Clark helped me become a competitive applicant for this job by supporting my double major in Physics and Political Science and enabling me to pursue research in a variety of areas. After my sophomore year, the Physics department helped me apply for a research experience for undergraduates at Duke University, where I studied experimental nuclear astrophysics. After my junior year, I co-authored research in campaign finance law enforcement with the Political Science department. I completed my senior honors thesis in Political Science and studied whether  information can be an effective tool to increase participation in local politics.

What I appreciate most about majoring in Political Science is that this department goes beyond cultivating writing and analytic skills. I really had to think about what kind of human I aim to be in the world. Each professor also creates space to meet with students outside of class, and I formed a close cohort of mentors and friends as I progressed through the major.

Rafael Swit, Class of 2018

When I think of my time at LC’s political science department, it’s remarkable how well the curriculum interacted with the College’s general education courses. I was always pushed to dig deeper, work harder, and do better. Professors in the Poli Sci department challenged my preconceptions about political power structures and how they interact with the social fabric around the world; here, I found mentors who gave me the tools I needed to succeed within the department and beyond. The tools I cultivated in Poli Sci courses helped me succeed in classes outside the department. My interest in legislative and electoral affairs eventually led me to shift some of my focus to international relations: I took my experience in political science and applied it to organizing the 2018 International Affairs Symposium as a committee member.

The department also emphasized practical learning and in 2016 I had the opportunity to spend a semester in DC interning with Senator Jeff Merkley’s office. There I had the opportunity to apply what I had learned in a professional setting and make connections that have continuously opened me to new opportunities. One of those connections was with a former Peace Corps Volunteer (PCV) in Merkley’s office who was kind enough to share her career and volunteer story. After spending time on the Symposium committee researching international aid and development, I decided to apply to volunteer myself. In April, I was invited to serve as an English teach in Cambodia and immediately accepted.

In the meantime, before I leave in October, I’ve been interning at Mercy Corps, a Portland-based international humanitarian relief organization. Here, I’ve had the opportunity to exercise my degree right out of college — from survey/interview design and implementation to data analysis and research writing, my degree (perhaps contrary to even my own expectations) has already proved invaluable.

I’m excited for the opportunity to apply the skills I gained at LC to help those in need around the world.

Maya Gold, Class of 2014 - Climate Change and Clean Energy Associate with Environment North Carolina

I’m a campaign organizeror, if I’m feeling pretentious, the Climate Change and Clean Energy Associate—with Environment North Carolina, a grassroots environmental advocacy group. I’m currently working on North Carolina’s efforts to pass the Clean Power Plan, an EPA proposal that would decrease carbon emissions from stationary power plants by 30% by 2030. It’s a job that has a lot of different hats. I work to build up our coalitions, talking with business leaders and local electeds to get them to sign on in support of the bill. I do quite a bit of media work, writing Letters to the Editor, Facebook posts, and op eds. I organize and hold events, up to and including press conferences. And, of course, I train a small fleet of interns to do the same. Lewis & Clark’s Political Science department was invaluable in preparing me for this job. Its diversity of academic offers has taught me to balance a lot of different skills and thought patterns; its rigor has taught me to time manage a seemingly unworkable workload; and its departmental love for debate and sound logic has taught me to argue and reason with the best of them!

 

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