headshot of woman with brown hair Erin Nisly '16 BA in Political Science

JD, '22 University of Kansas Law School

Public Defender, Reno County, Kansas.  Public defender in Reno County, Kansas. I represent people in court who are charged with a crime who can’t afford to hire their own attorney.  A big part of my job is researching and writing, but I also try to connect people to community resources. We call the negative impacts of the criminal system “collateral consequences” and we often engage in connecting clients to housing services, job training, substance abuse treatment, and connecting clients to organizations or faith communities that provide basic necessities like food and clothing.  

How has your degree prepared you for your life today?  It prepared me for life as an attorney because my professors demanded excellence in researching and writing.  The skills I learned in Model U.N., Research Methods, and Senior Thesis were invaluable.  These skills helped me complete law school and now, they are the foundation to every piece of writing I produce in my practice.  My degree also laid the foundation for strong interpersonal skills, which are necessary for interactions with clients and opposing counsel.  Finally, my political science professors taught me negotiation skills and appropriate respect and behavior when dealing with people who do not share my point of view. 

Advice for Political Science majors:  Find a mentor.  Do not be afraid of networking with anyone and everyone you can.  Take difficult classes (even ones outside of the department because policy jobs are far reaching in topic and focus).  Reach out to professors early and often.  Take time to really find out what you want to do with your degree and then don’t talk yourself out of it.  Apply for all the scholarships so you can have the financial freedom to do what you love and what you are passionate about.   

Taben Azad '16 BA in Political Science and BS in Mechanical Engineeringimage of man with beard

MPA '19, Wichita State University

President of the Wichita Asian Association (2022 and 2023). The association is a nonprofit that provides advocacy and education on behalf of the Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) community in the region.  Much of my work revolved around advocacy and community development, working with stakeholders in the area, and engaging with different AAPI communities to help address unique issues to their identity. I led the organization's efforts to promote diversity, equity and inclusivity at the city, state, and federal levels through the White House Initiative on Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders (WHIAANHPI). In previous roles, I have worked at the Wichita Foundation and for the local city and county government in their budget offices. 

How has your degree prepared you for your life today?  It provided me with the knowledge, connections, and opportunities to succeed after graduation. The courses that I took and the professors challenged me to think critically about solving issues in our community, state, and nation. Skills such as critical and creative thinking, communication, and working with those whom you may disagree with were all valuable strengths that I gained.

Advice for Political Science majors: Gain exposure to the different facets of the degree. If you're interested in nonprofit management, don't stray away from learning about city/county management. If running for local office is your aspiration, be sure to take courses in global issues. There is much to learn, skills to garner, and people to connect with in the field and you may not realize what else will spark your interest in a future career. Lastly but certainly not least - take the Model UN course! I have met people and friends all over the world from Model UN and it provides a perspective like no other. 

Image of woman with arms crossed Olivia Sullivan '15 BGS in Political Science, History and Communication

JD '18, Loyola University, Chicago School of Law

Managing Associate, Benesch Friedlander Coplan and Aronoff LLP. I am a commercial litigator specializing in defamation and media law. As part of my job, I draft motions, argue disputes and motions in front of the court, manage case teams, conduct research, and compile evidence to support my cases. As part of my defamation work, I counsel clients on responding to being defamed and send out cease and desist letters and retraction demands on their behalf. 

How has your degree prepared you for your life today?     All of the papers and written finals gave me great writing experience. A large percentage of my job is writing, and I’m grateful that I learned to organize my thoughts, present ideas clearly, and cite sources in my political science classes. All of the simulations, whether in Model U.N. or in Dr. Hall’s courses, were great practical experiences. Learning to negotiate, give speeches, think on your feet, and work as a team, are all essential skills I have utilized in my career. 

Advice for Political Science majors:  Lean into all the opportunities the department provides. Join clubs or do an internship or research assistantship. Not only are these opportunities great for skill building, but they help you connect to your professors and classmates. Some of my favorite college memories are from my political sciences classes, and I wouldn’t have those memories if I hadn’t taken the time to engage with the department and the wonderful people in it. 

Dalton Glasscock '17 BA in Business and Pol Sci (minor)image of man outside by trees

Wichita City Councilman (2024-2028)The City Council provides policy direction for the City of Wichita’s nearly 4,000 employees in developing, implementing, and maintaining services to the 396,000 citizens of Wichita. The Council establishes policy direction for the City by enacting ordinances, laws, policies, adopting the budget, levying taxes, and appointing members to citizen advisory boards and commissions. The seven-member Council is elected to four-year terms on a nonpartisan basis with staggered terms of office.  

How has your degree prepared you for your life today? My real-world experiences, fueled through my time as a Political Science student, have prepared me to defeat imposter syndrome. As a younger elected official, learning the history and systems of our government, as well as how to navigate different jurisdictions and how they intersect, has made the learning curve of service less intense. Through my time as a Political Science intern on Capitol Hill,  I quickly understood that relationships are the currency of politics. Relationships provide institutional knowledge, subject matter expertise, accountability, and a reminder that in our form of government one is not King, nor does one have all the answers.   

Advice for Political Science majors: You are never too young, nor will you ever be fully prepared to enter public service, but at one point you have to take the leap. Whether you choose to run for office, staff for an elected official, work in policy or lobbying – have a purpose and hold to it firmly. Public service is hard. In the times when you are door knocking on your 3000th door, traversing (after hours) the State to staff for a Congressman, navigating big and eclectic personalities, or having your legislation shot down, you’ll need to remember the why – and that why is not, should not, and cannot be ego driven. 

man in a suit Alejandro Arias '19 BA in Political Science

Talent Development Program Manager– Koch Industries  

How has your degree prepared you for your life today? I’ve been able to leverage my degree in a variety of ways, from community engagement to government relations in a corporate environment, all the way to research-led decision making. My degree allowed me to stretch outside of my comfort zone, and tap into skillsets that I wasn’t aware I had.  

Advice for Political Science majors: When it comes to careers with a Political Science degree, think outside the box. This degree extends far out besides non-profit/government work. The communication, writing, and research skills you gain are valuable in other environments. Your perspective is different, and you are able to provide a point of view that may be missing in the room.

young woman in a blue dress

Shelby Rowell '19 BA in Political Science and French

Senior Analyst, Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.  During my time at ASTHO, I have focused my efforts on supporting Community Health Worker Policy, Rural Health, and the Social Determinants of Health. In this role, I have provided technical assistance to state health officials and their staff, as well as managing federal grants awarded to ASTHO from CDC and HHS. I am transitioning to a new role at the Kansas Health Institute where I will be  conducting public health research specifically focused on the state of Kansas. 
How has your degree prepared you for your life today?  I didn’t go into the workforce expecting public health to be my long term area of focus, however, the lessons I learned at WSU have translated really well for me to be successful. My degree strengthened my critical thinking skills, it provided me the context to look at issues through many different lenses, perhaps most importantly, it provided me the building blocks to be a good writer and researcher. I think back to what one of my former bosses, Dr Norman, former Secretary of KDHE used to tell me, public health shouldn’t be partisan, but it is political. My political science degree gave me the tools necessary to understand and navigate a complex political landscape that heavily informs state health policy. 
Advice for Political Science majors: Don’t be scared to just get your foot in the door and explore every single opportunity available to you. I entered the workforce as a Data Manager at KDHE. It put me on a different path than I initially envisioned, but from that one experience that was a little outside my comfort zone, I got the opportunity to work as a Legislative Liaison at one of the biggest state agencies in Kansas, which led to even more opportunities that have changed my life for the better. [Also—take Dr Hall’s midterms and finals seriously! Looking back, there is truly no better exercise for concisely demonstrating what you know, and having that experience has helped me so much as I’ve navigated writing briefs and memos within my professional career. ]

image of man in a suit Darren Beckham '14 BA in Political Science

Chief of Staff, Office of Kansas Senate Vice President Richard WilbornMy responsibilities include preparing for floor action each day of session, coordinating with other leadership offices, overseeing the Senate intern program, and a little bit of everything.

How has your degree prepared you for your life today? My classes helped me to read technically and understand the vocabulary used in the Legislature. Extracurricular programs offered by the department like College Republicans, volunteer requirements for my Campaigns and Elections course, and the DC internship program all helped me build the skills and connections I use every day.

Advice for Political Science majors:  Take an internship in Topeka or DC. Get involved in campaigns as soon as you possibly can, run for student government and learn how to argue effectively, take on reading and writing in policy areas that interest you. 

Dan Flynt '13 BA in Political Sciencebald young man with arms crossed

'16 MPA Baruch College

Direct Response Manager at amfAR (The Foundation for AIDS Research).  I am responsible for overseeing a $2 million fundraising program for the foundation. This involves effectively communicating our research and policy objectives, as well as highlighting our achievements to a broad, national audience. My team uses a number of direct marketing channels to ultimately raise funds for critical HIV cure research.
How has your political science degree prepared you for your life today? It equipped me with the ability to synthesize complex data and philosophies into concise, compelling narratives. That skill is essential to my work today. The program also laid a strong foundation for my graduate studies. While pursuing my MPA, I was often complimented on the quality and style of my research papers, a skill I honed while completing my Political Science senior project.

If you had any advice for future political science majors, what would it be? Lean in! The value I got out of my Political Science degree came in large part from active participation in class discussions, gaining insights from classmates, participating in simulations, collaborating on group projects, and joining  extracurriculars (shoutout to Model UN!) I'm still in touch with a number of my classmates and, considering the impressive and diverse paths they all took, I'm glad I had the opportunity to learn from them.

DJ Gering '17 BA in Political Science head shot of man in suit coat

MA '18 Global Security, Arizona State University

Public Health Analyst at Center for Disease Control (CDC) Foundation. I work under the Overdose Response Strategy to create partnerships between public health and public safety to reduce overdoses. I specialize in using geospatial information systems (GIS) to link social determinants of health to overdose prevention action plans and promote health equity for disadvantaged populations. I travel across the country to national conferences to present and share my work with other industry professionals.

How has your degree prepared you for your life today? It prepared me to think strategically about complex systems that affect the health of communities. During my time spent working on the COVID-19 pandemic, I used the skills I learned while at Wichita State to handle policy challenges associated with novel infectious diseases and to provide recommendations to keep the community safe. 

Advice for Political Science majors: Internships and volunteering were key components to help me figure out what my interests were and what I wanted to do for a career. Model UN helped me build confidence in myself and my public speaking capabilities. Take as many opportunities as you can because they will prepare you to be successful after graduation. 

Jaiden Soupene '20 BA in Political Science

young man in a blue suit

Legislative Director for Senate Minority Leader in the Kansas Senate. I track legislation, help formulate draft bills and amendments, and create talking points for floor debates. I also am in charge of our campaign finances and raising money for the caucus. 

How has your degree prepared you for your life today? My time at Wichita State has helped immensely in my career, specifically the internship program. Because of the generous support from the political science department, I was able to live and work in Topeka full-time. The internship led directly to the position I have today. The department does a fantastic job at not only encouraging internships, but ensuring you are placed in the right setting to maximize this opportunity. 

Advice for Political Science majors: Getting involved in the political sphere is crucial to maximizing your political science degree. Whether that be interning in DC, working part-time for a local government organization, or volunteering on a campaign, these real-life experiences help make connections, teach valuable skills, and build relationships that greatly benefit you later in life.