header image

Alumni Spotlight: Caroline Fowler Allen

Posted by: andrewst | November 11, 2020 | No Comment |

Caroline Fowler Allen graduated in 2008 with minors in African studies and geography.  In her first year at CofC, Caroline took a class with Dr. Chris Day, which inspired her to become a political science major.  The topic of the Rwandan genocide grabbed her interest that year and held her focus as she completed her undergraduate degree and went on to receive her master’s. While finishing her master’s in International Development from Tulane University, Caroline accepted an internship with the U.S. Department of State, in the Bureau of African Affairs.  Shortly after, she began interning with EcoVentures International, a Washington, DC-based non-profit that focuses on economic development.  Within six months, Caroline was hired, and several short months later was off on her first trip to Kenya to support an ongoing project.

Caroline is now the International Program Director for EcoVentures and lives in Mexico.  She attributes her growth in the company to the fact that it is a small organization where, “with fewer people to do the work, you have to get your hands dirty” and take on tasks where you may not feel initially comfortable.  This environment forced this self-described “shy” young woman to stretch in ways she could not have previously imagined, particularly when tasked with facilitating large group trainings – an element of the job she has grown to love.  Caroline loves the variety of her position and finds it “hard to get bored!”

Caroline’s work sounds fascinating and rewarding.  EcoVentures supports local project teams for a number of donor-funded projects globally, mostly within agriculture. They apply “systems thinking lenses” to international development challenges, aiming to avoid “quick fixes,” but rather supporting the “development and sustainability of local market systems.” The one negative of the job is when “politics gets involved” – when a decision is made just to meet reporting requirements or to please the donors, but overall she is very happy in her work.

Despite being quite busy with her career, Caroline still makes times to volunteer as a mentor in our department’s mentorship program.  As an alum who has navigated her own path toward a rewarding career, she has much to share with our juniors and seniors who may be struggling to find their niche or just need a little support or guidance as graduation draws near.  Her number one piece of advice for students is “don’t undervalue your full range of experience and skills.”  She explains: “In today’s world, experience outside of the classroom is important, including extracurricular activities and even hospitality jobs (which show that you can multitask and stay calm under pressure!).” Equally important is experience with online software and tools: “when the world shut down due to COVID-19, we had to quickly adapt to taking all of our usually in-person activities to an online space, so these kinds of skills are highly valued.”

Additional advice from Caroline, especially geared toward freshmen and sophomores:

  • Take some classes with Dr. Mark Long and Dr. John Creed, two of her favorite professors!
  • Fine-tune a foreign language – “it would have been more useful, in hindsight, to be fluent (or close to fluent) in one language, rather than dabbling in many”
  • And “remain open to whatever opportunities come your way”
under: Alumni, Mentorship Program

Alumni Spotlight: Carmen Conley

Posted by: andrewst | November 9, 2020 | No Comment |

Carmen Conley (’88) may not have been the top student in her first two years at CofC, but once she discovered her passion for political science, things started to click.  Dr. Jack Parsons (emeritus professor) had a lot to do with that.  He piqued Carmen’s interest in Africa and got her involved with the Model Organization of African Unity program, a conference that took place annually at Howard University.

Carmen began her career domestically, working four years as a staff member to a U.S. Senator. Carmen then pursued her master’s degree in Africa Regional Studies, with a concentration in Peace and Conflict Resolution at American University School of International Service in Washington, D.C.

As a huge proponent of internships “to get your foot in the door at organizations you (think) you want to work with,” Carmen targeted the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs as a grad student, worked as an intern and upon graduation secured a long-term job.  She also worked as a consultant for the United Nations Development Program.  “Seeing that (organization) up close,” Carmen admits, “made me realize that I did not want a career in the UN system.”  She also worked for two years in public relations for the private sector, which confirmed that her “heart was really in the development field.”  Glad for these “comparative experiences,” and using them to evaluate her own aspirations, needs and desires, Carmen eventually landed at Development Alternatives Global (DAI), a large, for-profit, development organization based in Bethesda, Maryland, with project offices in 60 countries.  The organization’s focus is on political and economic development in developing countries, and includes climate mitigation.

Obviously, the work agrees with Carmen; she has been employed there for 17 years, all within the realm of Democracy and Governance, which at times has been combined with a focus on “rapid response in post-conflict environments.”  Her work is very fulfilling and Carmen loves the “highly collaborative environment” modeled within the company and around the globe. Though it can be very deadline driven and at times challenging when responding to clients (like the US government and other European Donor agencies), Carmen has learned how to “walk the tightrope” and “manage expectations.”

Though her position typically requires a lot of travel, COVID-19 has put a temporary halt to that and Carmen misses the interaction that she typically has “in the field” or at the home office in Maryland.  Though she works from her home in Charleston, and has for the last seven years, the company is now managing now remote staff in countries that span the globe during this pandemic.

Carmen volunteers as a mentor in our mentoring program here at CofC and happily shares her support and guidance to juniors and seniors who seek her input.  Her main piece of advice for everyone to take in is to “have a little humility” and do whatever it takes to get your foot in the door – she once applied to be a receptionist for a Senator, making a “barely livable” wage in D.C.  Though she did not get that job, they did call her several months later to offer her a temporary position answering constituent mail.  She accepted the position, lived with relatives and waitressed to make ends meet, and was offered full-time employment when the temp job ended.  When she left (four years later), her title was Director of Constituency Relations, which definitely enhanced her resume.  So, although you may not find exactly what you want initially, having those experiences – both positive and negative – will give you insights that will either confirm your path or cause a change in course, and only good can come from that.

under: Alumni, Mentorship Program

Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Ali

Posted by: andrewst | November 5, 2020 | No Comment |

Sarah Ali graduated from the Honors College in 2008, sold her car and moved to Palestine with the “hope of finding a job!”  Though her first adventure was short-lived and she returned to the U.S. for a few months, she has “no regrets” about the choices she made in that “rocky first year.”  “Sometimes, and especially in your twenties,” she writes, “you really need to make risky moves and follow your passions.” Though offered a position – in many ways her “dream job” – in a congressional office on Capitol Hill (after a short temporary position) Sarah declined the offer and flew to Beirut, Lebanon, where she found a job paying $10 an hour.  Though living “paycheck to paycheck” Sarah was living on her own terms.  Two years later, she accepted a position to teach at an international school in Erbil, Iraq, where she met her husband.  She then pursued her master’s degree in Arab Studies at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service; she graduated in 2014.

Sarah’s education and experience eventually landed her a position as a Business Development Specialist for the East Asia Pacific sub region at Catholic Relief Services, a position she loves.  Her job entails working together with country teams in the Philippines, Indonesia, Timor Leste and the Pacific Islands to “design projects that support the most poor and vulnerable people in society in ways that are sustainable and dignified.”  Sarah helps to design the projects and translate them into “winning proposals” so that they can win funding for implementation.

Unfortunately, Sarah transitioned to this position just as COVID-19 hit, which delayed her move to the Philippines.  She and her family had already vacated their apartment and put all their belongings on a ship to Manila when they received word of the delay.  Somehow, Sarah (along with her husband and two young children) have been able to take this all in stride.  They are riding out the pandemic in an Air B&B in Baltimore, Maryland and are focused on the “silver linings: living in a familiar area with a big backyard and lots of grass, and (hopefully) spending the upcoming holidays with the grandparents.”  Still working from “home” in Maryland does have its challenges: “As much as I love having calls with the teams,” she says, “I don’t love doing it late into the night!” (There is at least a 12-hour time difference!) In addition, she really misses that feeling of teamwork and the collaborative problem solving that is intrinsic to the job and easier to accomplish in-person. That being said, Sarah knows she is blessed and feels quite lucky that her kids and husband “have been able to thrive” through the pandemic thus far.  They do hope to get to Manila eventually, pull their things out of storage and “resume the expat life” they love so much.

Sarah’s bold spirit is warm and welcoming.  Her take-charge, positive attitude is a tonic in a world that is often fear-based and negative, which is, no doubt, one of the reasons why she has landed in this fabulous career with Catholic Relief Services, and why she makes a great mentor to our juniors and seniors through our mentorship program.

Sarah volunteers as one of our mentors to give homage to some of the many influential mentors she has had in her own life, including the “infamous John Creed,” who supervised her bachelor’s essay and made “a huge difference in where (she) ended up.”  In addition to Dr. Creed, other favorite political science professors include Dr. Lynne Ford and Dr. Claire Curtis.

Sarah is the first to admit that much of her career progression has been a function of privilege; she comes from a white, middle-class family with two working parents.  She acknowledges this with humility and is ever so conscious of the fact that not everyone will have the advantages she has had in life, nor will everyone have a safety net around them that allows as much freedom as she has been granted, but her best advice for all undergrads remains:

  • “If you are able to take some risks during and after college, take them!” And, Sarah would add, extracurricular activities should be among those risks! One of Sarah’s favorite places while at CofC was the South Carolina Student Legislature, where she made “lifelong friends” both from CofC and other colleges.
  • “If you can, give yourself some time to be (a little bit) more sure of what you want in your career” and, don’t rush to grad school: “Be careful – very careful – about taking on more student debt.” See how far your undergraduate degree can take you first and then build on that if/when needed.
  • “Although it is very important to respect your parents’ hopes and advice, at the end of the day you need to own your path…don’t suppress your own passions in order to please anyone else!”
under: Alumni, Mentorship Program

Beyond George Street

Posted by: andrewst | November 5, 2020 | No Comment |

Madi Methvin, Caroline Reece and Erika Golden are not only busy introducing the class of 2024 to the College and beyond, they are three majors who are actively participating and giving back to projects they love. Click here to learn more: BeyondGeorgeStreet

under: FYE, Student

Meet one of our newest faculty: Dr. Douglas Rivet

Posted by: andrewst | November 3, 2020 | No Comment |

The Department of Political Science welcomed Dr. Douglas Rivet to our program in Fall 2019.  With a specialization in geography, the addition of Dr. Rivet to our program brings focus to our geography minor and the myriad of ways these two disciplines complement each other in today’s world.

According to Oxford Languages, “geography is the study of the physical features of the earth and its atmosphere, and of human activity as it affects and is affected by these, including the distribution of populations and resources, land use, and industries.” The first half of that definition is where Rivet’s love of geography began, but it is that second half that shows where his love has taken him.

While pursuing his undergraduate degree, Dr. Rivet became quite interested in GIS – Geographic Information Systems – and truly came to appreciate its vast capabilities. His first job out of college was as a property tax assessor in Brighton, Michigan (a suburb of Detroit), where he refined his skills in GIS and gained valuable experience on suburban development and local government practices.

Rivet then pursued a master’s in geography at Western Michigan University and worked with GIS systems to analyze and assess the risks of agricultural disease on potatoes in the Great Lakes region.  While pursuing his master’s, he reconnected with his love of the classroom and decided to pursue a Ph.D. in order to become a professor.  He was accepted to a doctoral program at Western University in London, Ontario, and fell in love with life in Canada and its people.  Rivet was particularly fascinated by the Canadian universal healthcare system and its political processes, which are vastly different from the U.S.  Rivet worked for eight years as a transportation policy advisor for the first bus rapid-transit system in the region, which is now under construction.  He consulted on everything from where the structure should go, to how the region would pay for it, using – you guessed it – GIS!  He left Canada only because he received his “dream offer” to teach at the College of Charleston.

Dr. Rivet’s hobbies include golf and darts (a game he became fond of in Canada, where darts is practically a national “sport”).  He lives with his wife, Heather, and their two dogs, Dexter and Theodore, in Goose Creek, SC.

under: Faculty, Geography

Student Spotlight: Abigail Martuscello

Posted by: andrewst | November 1, 2020 | No Comment |

Certainly nobody expected to be packing their bags to go home for the semester at the beginning of March, 2020. But for some students, the journey home when campuses closed was a little longer than most. One of our very own Political Science majors, Abigail Martuscello, was studying abroad in Haifa, Israel when things began shutting down around the globe. Abigail was spending her semester abroad, funded by the prestigious Gilman Scholarship, a nationally competitive award open to college students who are receiving Pell Grant funding. 

    Though her time in Israel was unexpectedly cut short, Abigail says the situation “made the experiences I did have even more special.” She explains that some of the conversations and experiences she did get to enjoy before leaving might have been overlooked if she’d stayed the whole semester, but because it was so brief, it allowed her to really reflect on what she did get to experience. And now that she’s returned to the US to finish her studies, she wants to encourage other students to experience study abroad as well, especially in non-traditional locations. 

    One piece of advice Abigail couldn’t stress enough was the importance of not letting fear hold you back. She struggled with safety concerns about her destination from friends and family before leaving, but she said, “safety wasn’t a concern once I got there, and research can sometimes confirm biases when they may not be true.” So, she suggests trying to find the sweet spot of researching your host country: you want to know what you’re walking into, but don’t obsess over every single thing that could possibly go wrong. 

She also emphasizes that the best way to learn about the politics of a region is simply to study there; you can read books and take classes, but nothing compares to experiencing local politics firsthand. In fact, Abigail became interested in Israeli politics after taking Dr. Creed’s World Politics class, where she learned about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. She says, “when you see a huge issue that seems unsolvable, it just makes you want to tackle it and be part of the solution.” In order to dive into this problem, she decided to spend a semester immersed in it. 

    Abigail wants to encourage more students to apply for the Gilman award; last year, she was the only CofC student to apply. Because part of the Gilman Scholarship includes completing a service project following your time abroad, Abigail is currently collaborating with the Center for International Education to help her peers learn how to make study abroad possible when it may not seem to be at first. 

Congratulations to Abigail for identifying a passion, squelching her fears, and embarking on a life-changing adventure!

 

under: Scholarships and Awards, Student

Student Spotlight: Camryn Snell

Posted by: andrewst | March 26, 2020 | No Comment |

For 2018 Moore scholarship recipient Camryn Snell, the College of Charleston’s political science department is a home away from home. Camryn knew she wanted to be a political science major before she even enrolled at the College, but her decision was solidified when she attended the majors and minors fair. There she met former department chair Dr. Gibbs Knotts, whose excitement about the program inspired her to officially declare her major. Dr. Knotts is just one of the many faculty members who have motivated Camryn to succeed; she credits former visiting professor Shyam Sriram with helping her to find her true passion–immigration and refugee policy. In Professor Sriram’s World Politics class, she found it refreshing to look at politics outside of America, and subsequently took two more classes with him the following semester (International Relations in Immigration & Religion and Politics) to gain an even better global perspective. Camryn also lists Professors Hinton, Amira, McGinnis, and Ragusa as influential in her undergraduate career. “I can go to graduate school and feel completely prepared”, she says, “thanks to what they’ve taught me and how supported I’ve felt.”
Camryn couldn’t say enough about how influential the political science department has been during her time at CofC. During high school she never felt very supported by her teachers, but that all changed the moment she began taking political science courses. Every professor she’s had here, she asserts, has been “unbelievably passionate about their students.”
Camryn credits her professors with teaching her more than just how to pass a class – through her coursework, she feels she’s become a well-rounded and open-minded student, a team player, and an informed global citizen. The political science curriculum, she says, has also taught her how to be adaptable – “Math always stays the same, but political science is always changing. Sometimes we’ve had to change our entire syllabus to cover a new world event!”
Last year, Camryn had the opportunity to meet the Moore family, who funds her scholarship and felt right at home with them. “You would have thought that I was a part of their family at the reception.” Camryn stressed that the Moore scholarship has been invaluable for her education. Not having to choose between studying for her classes or trying to make ends meet has allowed her to save up for an internship experience in Washington, D.C. this summer. The Moore Scholarship is given to a rising sophomore who demonstrates the potential to promote understanding among diverse groups of people and to improve the state of South Carolina. It is named after former professor William V. Moore. The political science department hosts an annual conference named after Professor Moore, which allows students to present their own research on a variety of topics.
Looking forward, Camryn plans to continue her work on immigration and refugee policy. Her goal is to work for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to help improve global policies, which haven’t been updated since the 1951 Refugee Convention. She believes these changes are essential, because “old rules can’t apply to a new environment.”
When asked if she feels her undergraduate experience has prepared her for the future, Camryn replied, “How could I not be prepared?!” Her advice to underclassmen is to engage and find opportunities that fit their interests. But, she does caution against creating too much of a workload, suggesting that students apply only for the experiences that truly match their interests and goals.
Camryn encourages underclassmen to explore while they have the time. Her advice: “Go to the majors and minors fairs, go to every opportunity, get to know what you like because there’s going to be a lot of people who try to put you in a box. Don’t pursue a career yet, start slowly and pursue what makes you happy and what you’re passionate about!” She says even general education requirements can help students find their true passion. Further advice would include networking (especially with professors) and making sure to stay engaged both in and out of class. She believes there is so much to gain from taking an active approach to your own learning, which includes “going to office hours, participating in class and taking advantage of experiential learning opportunities as often as possible.”

under: Scholarships and Awards, Student
Tags:

Alumni Spotlight: Rhodes Bailey ‘03

Posted by: andrewst | October 9, 2019 | No Comment |

“I would not trade my experience at the College of Charleston for ten Ivy League degrees,” says Rhodes Bailey, who graduated from the College in 2003. Bailey came to the College knowing he wanted to study political science, having been interested since a young age. “I’ve always been a nerd for politics,” he happily admits, “and I took way more classes in political science than I needed for my degree!” 

Now a practicing lawyer, Bailey recently began his campaign for a seat in the South Carolina House of Representatives. “I think the best days in South Carolina are ahead of us, if we’re not afraid to try something new,” he explains, adding, “this is the most important election of our lives.” After feeling frustrated for some time with the lack of change and increasing corruption of the state legislature, Bailey decided now was the time to run. He wants to shake things up a bit in the House, because he feels incumbents are getting too comfortable in their positions and are losing touch with their constituents, citing the failure of the legislature to give raises to South Carolina educators as a prime example. He says, “there’s no change unless people are willing to take risks.” 

Bailey is excited at the prospect of making a difference in the state he calls home, especially because he’s lived here all his life. He has always been involved in politics, from being elected student body president as a junior during his time at the College to working on election protections as a lawyer years later. He is confident in his chances of winning the election, calling his Columbia home a “purple district” that can absolutely be flipped in the next election. He stresses the importance of this election cycle, adding, “I believe that we have to compete in every viable race we can to make the biggest impact.” Bailey believes his background in political science and law makes him a great candidate for the job.

During his time at the College, Bailey made sure to pursue all of his passions, both in and out of the classroom. He became involved in the Student Government Association immediately upon arriving on campus, serving as a freshman senator. He served as student body vice president his sophomore year and then as president his junior year, which, he says, was an interesting time (Bailey’s first SGA meeting as president was on September 11, 2001). Bailey was also an avid guitar player; his high school summer music program at CofC was actually one of the main reasons he came here. “He played a pretty mean Beatles cover back in the day,” recalls Dr. Mark Long, professor of geography and political science. 

Bailey loved not only the political science department but the College’s liberal arts education in general. “You don’t realize how special a liberal arts school is until you meet people who went to other programs,” he explains, stressing the importance of learning “something about everything.” He certainly took this idea to heart, taking theatre and songwriting classes “just for fun.” He says one of his favorite classes, aside from those in political science, of course, was theatre script analysis. 

Bailey also took advantage of all the courses the political science department offered, taking as many as would fit in his schedule. He especially loved the classes he took with Dr. Curtis and Dr. Moore, though he made sure to emphasize his appreciation for the entire department; “I never had a class or a professor I didn’t like.” He often tells people how life-changing the political science department was for him. He adds, “when you’re in a place and at a college you love, there seems to be no limit to what you can do!” 

When asked about his time in law school, Bailey admits that it was challenging and demanding, but he stresses how well the College prepared him for that challenge. He has been practicing law for twelve years now, beginning as a public defender and moving to civil defense, before taking a short break to teach criminal justice at Keystone College. He has since returned to public defense in Columbia, where he is now Chief Litigator. Though he loves his job and his problem-solving role, he wants to become a state representative because, “sometimes I see the bigger problems we’re facing, and I want to take steps toward bigger solutions.”    

Bailey has lots of advice for political science students today, but he emphasizes the importance of stepping out of one’s comfort zone. “Don’t be afraid to try something new. Don’t just stick to what’s safe. Don’t be afraid to challenge yourself and try something different.” He also encourages students not to take these few years for granted, saying, “take the time to enjoy learning for the sake of learning. You’ll miss school when you’re older.” Bailey regrets not taking as many international relations classes as he could have, and encourages students to take as many courses as possible in the fields they are interested in. On the subject of law school, he says, “law school is not for everyone, but it’s a life changing experience. It molds minds.” To students interested in government and campaigns, he stresses, “just show up. Adventure will find you.” Bailey took some time off after he graduated before continuing his education, and he wants students to know that they don’t have to go straight into graduate school. Overall, Bailey encourages students to get involved and cherish the time they have in college. He says, “there’s something so exciting and magical that happens in a college classroom.”    

 

under: Alumni, Running for Office

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Maren Trochmann

Posted by: andrewst | September 30, 2019 | No Comment |

Assistant professor Maren Trochmann joined the CofC Political Science department this fall, transitioning from her position in the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Denver, where she focused on affordable housing at the state and local level for nearly ten years. Trochmann is currently teaching courses in public service and human resources for the Master of Public Administration program.

Dr. Trochmann was drawn to the College of Charleston not only for its beauty, but for its heavy involvement with the surrounding community. “I love the College’s focus on sustainability, equity, and inclusion,” she says. Coming from the landlocked state of Colorado, she appreciates being near the beach as well.

One of her favorite parts of teaching is being able to share the concepts of public service and scholarship with students. She is especially looking forward to taking on some undergraduate courses in the spring, such as Ethics and Politics, where she will introduce students to the philosophical concepts that intersect with political science.

Trochmann recently had two pieces accepted for publication, which were derived from her interest in fair housing. The first, “How administrative rulemaking can advance social equity,” has been accepted into the book, “Social Equity: New Dimensions and Challenges.” The second, “Identities, Intersectionality, and Otherness: The Social Constructions of Deservedness in American Housing Policy” will soon be published in the journal, Administrative Theory and Praxis.

Dr. Trochmann encourages political science students to “grab hold of the things that interest you.” The best advice she ever got as an undergraduate student was to focus on what you enjoy rather than on what you think will get you a job; she says, “studying what you’re into leads to a career and excitement for each day!”

under: Faculty

Dr. Jordan Ragusa, researcher on the U.S. Congress and member of the political science faculty at the College of Charleston, spent his recent time on sabbatical exploring repeals in the American Congress, studying the process from the Reconstruction Era to the present day.

Though relatively untouched in the literature, the idea of repealing existing legislation has frequented news headlines in recent months and years with the change in party power in Washington, and has therefore become a popular topic in discussions about American politics. In his upcoming book, Congress in Reverse: Legislative Repeals from Reconstruction to the Present, Dr. Ragusa and his co-author, Dr. Nate Birkhead, explore the uniqueness of the repeal as a category of American legislation, as well as the potential causes of repeals, which they refer to as the “three P’s:” problem solving, parties, and preferences.

Dr. Ragusa explained during his August 21 sabbatical lecture that repeals are a distinct and intriguing category of American legislation because they pass into law so infrequently. His preliminary analysis showed the low probability of repeals passing both chambers, as compared to other categories of bills, such as amendments or reauthorizations. He then went on to explain the factors that account for such a low volume of repeals being enacted, finding that out of the “three P’s,” parties play the most important role. Specifically, party cohesiveness and former minority status are the most predictive factors that explain when and why repeals occur.

Dr. Ragusa has also published work specifically on the recent Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, as well as on voting behavior in presidential and congressional elections, and public opinion on policy. He is a co-founder and co-director of the American Politics Research Team, which partners students with faculty to conduct research on a variety of topics in American politics.

 

 

under: Events, Faculty

Older Posts »

Categories

Skip to toolbar