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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 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
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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: 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: Uncategorized

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

Alumni Spotlight: Stephen Osborne ’73

Posted by: andrewst | May 8, 2019 | No Comment |

Interim President Stephen Osborne ‘73, or President Oz as he likes to be called, brought a unique perspective to his role as President as both an alum of the college as well as a former administrator. As he prepared to end his time as president and turn the reins over to incoming President Hsu, he reflected on his time at CofC, both as a political science major and as a long-serving administrator.

Osborne graduated from CofC with a bachelor’s in political science in 1973, a time when the College was a very different place from what it is now. “The College has grown significantly in scope and size since my days as a student,” Osborne explained. “Our enrollment has grown as well as our campus footprint, the number of course offerings and academic programs. Although many of the historic buildings from my time as a student still exist, the changes to today’s College of Charleston are enormous from that of the past – and that’s a good thing.”

After his time at CofC, Osborne went on to receive post-graduate degrees from Western Kentucky University and University of South Carolina. He finally found his way back to the College in 2006 where he became the Executive Vice President for Business Affairs. Despite not having a politically oriented career path, Osborne considers his time as a political science major incredibly formative for his career.

“I would say there were two skills that have been helpful to me: communication and understanding how power operates in society. In any job you do, you have to be able to communicate with people in order to accomplish goals. And in understanding how power operates in society, I learned how to navigate tricky issues and problems. I attribute my ability to successfully deploy these skills throughout my life in part to Professor Bill Moore, a former political science professor here at the College.”

Osborne has been successful – and busy – in his time as interim president. “The toughest challenge has been to try to advance a great number of initiatives in a short period of time,” Osborne noted. “When I was first approached about becoming interim president, I sat down and made a list of things I would like to accomplish in order to sustain the College’s momentum and set the table for the next president. Before I knew it, what I thought would be a list of five to ten items turned into something much longer.” It’s easy to get caught up in all those initiatives and the various duties of the president, but for Osborne time spent with students on campus made it all worth it. “My wife Mary and I have been having various student groups over to the President’s House this past year for refreshments and conversation. I have tried to be very visible to our students and attend as many student events as my schedule would permit. I have learned so much by speaking with these students, and am excited for all they will do in the world with a College of Charleston degree.”

President Osborne has one prominent piece of advice for students: “Meet as many people at the College and in the community as possible and immerse yourself in College life to have a total student experience. Interacting with people you don’t know widens your world view and exposes you to new and exciting thoughts. In addition, you begin to build a network of friends, mentors and people you can call on throughout your life and career.”

Though his time as interim president is ending, Osborne will stay connected to the college. “I love the College very much,” Osborne said. “It is really a special part of me. To be able to give back to an institution that has given me so much, including many wonderful friendships, has been a great privilege and joy.”

under: Uncategorized

Gallery of Senior Spotlights

Posted by: hutchisonch | April 22, 2019 | No Comment |

All year long we’ve been featuring some of our amazing seniors in our weekly senior spotlights. Check out the gallery below to see everyone we’ve highlighted this year. Click on any senior spotlight tile to learn more about the student. Congratulations to all our wonderful seniors on their upcoming graduation!


under: Uncategorized

We Missed You! Faculty Updates from Sabbatical

Posted by: hutchisonch | March 27, 2019 | No Comment |

Did you notice that a few familiar faces were missing around the political science offices this year? Three of our faculty members were on sabbatical during the 2018-2019 academic year and took that time to focus on their research. For this blog post they’ve provided us with some updates of how they spent their time!

Dr. Gibbs Knotts (Fall 2018)

Subfield: American Politics and Processes

My primary project during sabbatical was a book about the South Carolina presidential primary.  The book is co-authored with Jordan Ragusa and will be published this fall by the University of South Carolina Press.  The title is First in the South: Why the South Carolina Presidential Primary Matters.

My only travel was to Columbia to visit the South Carolina Political Collection at USC’s Library.  The Republican Party of South Carolina Papers and Democratic Party of South Carolina Records were particularly helpful.  It was my first time doing archival research, but it was really fun to go back in time and see so much cool material.

I very much appreciated the time to write, but am glad to be back on campus.  I am extremely grateful to work on a college campus and love teaching, doing research, and working with students.

Dr. Chris Day (Fall 2018 & Spring 2019)

Subfield: Global Politics and Spaces

During my sabbatical, when I am not expanding my knowledge of “leisure studies,” I am focused on two new research projects. The first is a collaborative study of civil-military relations in Africa, which seeks to understand the contemporary roles of African armies in African politics despite the steep decline of coups d’état on the continent in the past decade or so.

The second (and more fun) project looks at the politics of wildlife authorities in Africa. In particular, I am examining the militarization of park rangers, the political roles they play beyond conservation, and how they are part of (or not part of) broader strategies of regime security in Africa. I have observed that in some countries like Uganda, park rangers play a conventional role of domestic law enforcement to manage poaching and human-wildlife conflict. Yet in countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), park rangers have taken on a more robust security role, acting as counterinsurgents against armed groups that operate in national parks and use poaching to fund their operations. This second project took me to Uganda in the fall, where I am helping reconstruct the institutional history of the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA). This spring I will continue this research in Uganda, extend it to Rwanda, and with a little luck, also go to DRC and South Sudan.

I love my sabbatical and each time I’ve come to campus for whatever administrative reasons were necessary, I’ve felt like I’m going to burst into flames or at the very least break out in hives. I hope to get over that by the fall.

Dr. Claire Wofford (Fall 2018 & Spring 2019)

Subfield: American Politics and Processes

During my sabbatical, I have worked on several research projects that are, or will become, articles: one on the structure of legal doctrine, one on Southern female political candidates, and one on why people take their cases to the U.S. Supreme Court.

For fun, I have spent tons of time with my children (Reid is almost 2 and Luke is 6). I have heard “baby shark” on Alexa more times than I can count! I’ve also slept a lot and done some coloring and reading. I am looking forward to getting back in the classroom for sure. So much to discuss with students!

under: Uncategorized

Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Annette Watson

Posted by: hutchisonch | March 15, 2019 | No Comment |

If you’re looking for geography professor Dr. Annette Watson, you’ll have to search anywhere from the salmon-filled Yukon River in Alaska to the banks of the marshy Stono River near Charleston. If you’re on campus you might find her in the political science building or over in SSMB where she fulfills her role as the Director of the Master of Environmental Studies (MES) program. She was drawn to the College when she interviewed here in 2008. “When I got here for my interview people were amazing and obviously the campus is just gorgeous, and I liked the kind of working relationships that I could have here,” Watson said.

She was also drawn to the Lowcountry because of the opportunities she had for fieldwork, something that she even incorporates into a course called Reading the Lowcountry Landscape. “Anywhere that I live, I believe in doing local-based fieldwork,” Watson explained. “This place is very interesting in terms of its diversity of people and certainly the Gullah Geechee communities are of absolute interest to me. I didn’t even know about them before I got here.”

Throughout her time at CofC, Watson has done research with various groups of people, both in the Lowcountry and along the Yukon River in Alaska. She says that the initial stages of getting to know people are both the most challenging and most rewarding parts of the process. “You have to spend time talking to people and understanding and learning their perspectives. I’ve done plenty of fishing with people both here in the Lowcountry and in Alaska. I try to work alongside them for a time to try to get that insight or perspective, or at least identify a perspective in which I can communicate what it is they want other people to know.”

Before beginning her research, Watson didn’t even know how to fish. She learned all of her “outdoorsy” skills in the field, including camping and how to build a fire. She always tells students who want to do fieldwork that they should, “always be prepared by knowing how to start a fire. It is a real skill outside of the United States.”

Her new skill of fishing, coupled with being invited to new villages and communities to further her knowledge, have been among her favorite experiences. “I learned how to think about nature in a way that I never did as a person growing up in a suburb. That outsider perspective actually helps to focus and sharpen what it is I’m learning.”

Given her suburban childhood, you may be surprised to learn that Watson built her own house in Alaska, using Google and YouTube.  “I built a cabin by myself with my own hands with help from only a couple of people to lift the walls. That’s what I did during my sabbatical: I built myself a house that I could live in.”

One of her recent projects has been with the Arctic Council, working on an indigenous-led project to develop a fisheries assessment. She originally became involved with the group after spending six seasons with their chief, salmon fishing on the Yukon River.

After those seasons—sixteen hours a day being out on the river, cold and wet—the chief began talking about the Arctic Council and asked Watson to help develop a project. The goal of the project is to design a fisheries assessment from the perspective of indigenous peoples. “We want to think through what it means to be ‘salmon people,’ the people who rely on the salmon, and not just think of the salmon as unrelated to the human communities that it shares the rivers with,” Watson explained.

Her directorship of the MES program here on campus means that often times she finds herself teaching only one undergraduate class per semester. However, she stays involved with students through a variety of independent study projects. “Currently I’m working with an honors student on his bachelor’s essay doing ethnobiology.  He’s working on a project that is hopefully going to create a permanent garden installation over by the Stono River where the College has property. We’re calling it the Hidden Hands Garden, meaning the hidden labors and hidden knowledge of all the former agriculturalists in the area—especially the folks that were enslaved on these plantations brought over from Africa, who used their indigenous traditions and a whole host of knowledge about plants and techniques to do sustainable agriculture.” There will be a groundbreaking for the garden at the end of the month and the goal is that it would become a teaching installation not only for CofC students but for visiting K-12 schools as well.

Though she doesn’t spend as much time in the classroom as she used to, Watson’s philosophy on teaching is: “Let’s just get excited about what the possibilities are to change the world.” She teaches mostly online classes now, including Reading the Lowcountry Landscape in which she teaches students about local fieldwork. “The classroom is literally the Lowcountry, that’s an exciting way to think about teaching,” Watson said.

Her experience at the College of Charleston has been diverse: research, teaching, and administration. Beyond learning how to build a fire, her advice to current undergraduates is simple: “Find the right balance of being kind to yourself, while pushing yourself to do better.”

Interested in learning more about Dr. Watson’s work? Check out the geography minor at CofC, the Master of Environmental Studies program, and the Arctic Council.

under: Uncategorized

Student Spotlight: Zainab Dossaji ’20

Posted by: hutchisonch | February 28, 2019 | No Comment |

For political science major Zainab Dossaji ‘20, a major part of‘ the classroom’ has been the offices of the Department of Justice in Washington, DC, an elephant preserve in Cambodia, the city of Amman, Jordan, and the Harvard Kennedy School’s Public Policy Leadership Conference.  She credits the political science department with helping and encouraging her to participate in these experiential learning opportunities. “One of the great things about being a political science major is that it is flexible enough to allow classes that aren’t taken at CofC to count for major credits. This has been the biggest reason why I have been able to study abroad twice and spend this entire year away from campus. Every experiential learning opportunity I have had, from debating politics in DC to visiting UNICEF in Amman, has influenced my overall goals.”

Dossaji is originally from Spartanburg, SC and came to the College of Charleston unsure about exactly what she wanted to study. Since she already had an interest in politics after the 2016 election, she chose political science as what she described as a ‘preliminary option.’ It didn’t take her long, however, to know that she was on the right path. “I took Dr. Creed’s World Politics honors course and I was hooked,” Dossaji explained. “I was bouncing around between history, philosophy, and international studies as my possible major and his class showed me that political science incorporated all of those subjects. Being a political science major at the College of Charleston specifically has been an incredible experience. I cannot say enough about the department. All of the professors are so helpful and have a real passion for their students as well as their particular areas of interest. I’ve had a lot of meaningful discussions with the faculty and the students within the department.”

The summer after her freshman year, Dossaji joined a study abroad trip to Cambodia and Vietnam led by Dr. Jen Wright from the Department of Psychology and political science professor Dr. Chris Day. “This experience has been one of the most vital and influential of my undergraduate education. Studying genocide and international intervention in Cambodia is the reason I became interested in humanitarian action, human rights, and international NGO work.”

The experience also influenced her decision to travel to Amman, Jordan for a second study abroad. “Fast forward almost two years later and here I am studying refugees, health, and humanitarian action. Everything I learned on that first study abroad experience has helped me transition into this program. Being abroad showed me how to think critically and analytically about international work and demonstrated that it was okay to question the humanitarian institutions and systems that are in place.”

That doesn’t mean that Dossaji hasn’t experienced challenges or bumps in the road. “Spring semester my sophomore year was an incredibly challenging time for me,” Dossaji explained. “I was forced to make a lot of decisions about my future without having a solid plan of what I wanted to do post-grad. At the same time, I had applied to a couple of nationally competitive awards and failed to receive them. This was a hard blow because so much time and effort were put into those applications. A combination of the fear of the unknown as well as rejection made for a stressful semester. Mid-semester I learned that I had to take time to reflect and enjoy the moment, rather than stressing over the past and future. I stopped being daunted by the unknown and began to embrace the opportunities it could hold.”

Those opportunities included spending her fall semester in Washington, DC interning at the Department of Justice in the civil rights division. In her program, students worked full time at their internships and then attended night classes, which Dossaji was able to count toward her political science major. “Working full time is a completely different experience than being a student. It’s definitely more tiring in some ways, particularly with commuting and such, but it’s also nice to have a clear-cut time of when you’re working. In college it feels like the majority of your time is spent in classes and then studying afterward. It was great to come home after work and know that the day was over. I think working in DC is also an incredibly unique experience because you’re surrounded by politics regardless of whether you are working with a political organization or not.”

After a full year off campus, Dossaji is looking forward to returning to CofC this fall and to prepare for (hopefully) attending law school. “For me, personally, all my learning opportunities helped me confirm my dream of going to law school. I was able to realize that I wanted to play a role in changing the legal system to help alleviate social injustices that take place nationally and internationally. If it wasn’t for my experiences outside the classroom, I never would have known how law and policy truly intersect.”

Experience seems to be the keyword of Dossaji’s time at CofC, so it’s no surprise that her recommendation to underclassmen and incoming freshmen is to adapt and enjoy your time at school and to experience everything you can. “Allow your plans for college (and the future in general) to be adapted. You truly don’t know what the future holds and that should be exciting rather than daunting,” Dossaji said. “My best experiences in college have been the ones I never planned for. Join the clubs that spark your interest, engage in discussions that make you feel challenged and empowered, and take advantage of every opportunity–not with your resume in mind, but your passions.”

under: Uncategorized

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