Category Archives: Student News

Department of Politics Diversity Day 2015

Diversity Day 2015The Department of Politics hosted its first annual Diversity Visit Day on October 15th, 2015. Thirteen outstanding undergraduates and recent graduates from underrepresented groups spent the day at UVA, learning about graduate school in general and UVA’s Department of Politics, in particular.

Following breakfast with Dean Baucom, and Politics faculty, and current graduate students, the visiting students attended a panel entitled Political Science Graduate School: An Overview.  The panelists—Murad Idris (Political Theory), Robert Fatton (Comparative Politics), Paul Freedman (American Politics, Political Methodology), and Denise Walsh (Comparative Politics)—described what the future holds for them as political scientists in academia: time to read, time to think. The panel was divided on how much time is actually available.

The second panel, on Applying to and Paying for Graduate School sought to demystify the graduate school application process; the panelists offered strategies and tactics for the application process, and explained how to offset costs with scholarships and grants— including those from the Jefferson Fellowship program at UVA.  The panel included Keisha John, Jen Rubenstein, Lynn Sanders, and Herman Schwartz. Dr. John said her current soapbox is showing how a graduate can complete her or his education without getting into significant debt. The visiting students were definitely paying attention.

Other events included a panel on Finding Mentors, Creating Community, Working Across Disciplines, individual and small group meetings with professors, Jon Kropko’s class in Advanced Topics in Multivariate Analysis, Sid Milkis’ class in American Political Development, a wrap-up session, and a party at Department Chair David Leblang’s house.

This year’s Diversity Day participants hailed from around the country, including Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, New Orleans, Cincinnati, Dallas, Richmond (VA) and New York City, among other places.

Anyone interested in applying for the 2016 Diversity Visit Day should e-mail Dr. Jennifer Rubenstein, Rubenstein@virginia.edu, and ask to be put on the mailing list to receive more information when it becomes available.

Life After Politics: A Near Life Experience

Life After Politics 2015Fifty students had their eyes opened when eight alums showed up to share what actually happens after you get a degree in politics. Professor Paul Freedman’s Life After Politics panel and speed mentoring activities showcased five post-degree alumni now in the worlds of journalism, law enforcement, non-profit advocacy, and the U.S. Senate staff.

Five panel members spoke about their efforts at life/work balance, though only Albert Kim, First Sergeant Arlington Police Department seems successful at this, including marathons and triathlons into his days. The two journalists Margaret Brennan and Katherine Faulders have chosen careers where politics are a major part of their coverage. They both emphasized how necessary it is to be available all the time, carrying several cellphones and other devices. Like the journalists who have to be hyper-responsive, Gabriel Noronha, Staff Assistant U.S. Senate also has a 24/7 workday. He recommends working on a presidential campaign, if you can find a place as an intern and don’t mind sleeping on the floor. Anna Scholl, Executive Director, ProgressVA & ProgressVA Education Fund, had a less stressful early career, but recommends just saying “Yes” to the menial work and smile as you do it—it will set you apart from those who don’t.

Speed mentoring works much like speed dating, except each alum migrates from a circle of students to a circle of students. At this level of interaction the students get close exposure to ask specific questions and get an immediate response at a personal level. Alumni gain by adding potential employees, associates, and peers to their networks, as well as giving back to the University on a fundamental level. In addition to the panel members, Haley Anderson, Speech and Language Pathology, Jennifer Clarke, Special Assistant U.S. Attorney, and Cameron Kilberg, Attorney and Entrepreneur participated in speed mentoring.

Life After Politics was sponsored and hosted by the Career Center in conjunction with the Department of Politics. Follow us on Twitter or Facebook for an announcement of next year’s event and other thought-provoking seminars.