Department of Political Science

Career Paths of our Graduates

 

 


 

James Patriquin (2014)

The 2013-14 Honours program is where I learned to master my curiosity with discipline. Upon completing my thesis, there were still many lingering questions that I wanted answers for, and this drove me to continue my academic journey. For a year I studied as a part-time student in computer science (14-15) at Saint Mary’s, and now I have returned to political science as a graduate student at Carleton University.

One thing I will never forget is Dr. Dobrowolsky’s honours theme of “Ideas Into Action”. While studying part-time, this theme became a key motive for my involvement in student politics, at first as President of Students Nova Scotia, and then again as President of the Saint Mary’s University Students’ Association. I credit this program for helping me to discover a twin passion for justice, and for transforming good ideas into a better future. For this reason I would highly recommend Political Science at Saint Mary’s to anyone thinking about a future in government, law or the public sector.

 

Rumbi Chimhanda (2013)

"It takes a village to raise a child” goes the African proverb. Being from Zimbabwe, I can vouch for the truth of these words. In many respects, the faculty in the Political Science department at Saint Mary’s has “raised” me intellectually and personally, equipping me with the tools I need to thrive and flourish long after leaving the comfort of the department’s hallways.

As an undergraduate Political Science student, I had the privilege of being part of a tight and close-knit department that eventually became my home away from home. I had the opportunity to learn from professors who are not only academics par excellence, but also great mentors. Some of my highlights include: working as a Teaching Assistant, Departmental Assistant to the Chair and Research Assistant, volunteering at the annual Halifax International Security Forum, as well as travelling to New York for the Model United Nations Conference in 2013.

Dr. Edna Keeble was my undergraduate supervisor for my Honors thesis “The Inescapable Lure of Beauty’s Paradox” which explored the arguments around the oppressive nature of beauty, looking specifically at how it is grounded in sexism, racism and classism. As an incredible supervisor, compassionate mentor and phenomenal professor, she no doubt inspired and prepared me to continue pursuing my dreams.

As such, since graduating from Saint Mary's with an Honors degree in Political Science, I went on to do my Master’s degree in Political Science at Carleton University in Ottawa. Currently, I am now pursuing my PhD in Political Science, with the opportunity to work for the Federal government on projects and policies in line with my own research focused on women in the workplace.

The Political Science department at Saint Mary's provided me with a strong foundation that has enabled me to take on various challenges and opportunities; whether working on a provincial campaign or completing my doctoral studies. Indeed, there is never a dull moment with a degree in Political Science because the possibilities are diverse and endless!

 

Jamie Wilkinson (2013)

At Saint Mary's University, my passion for social justice issues, such as human trafficking and gender inequality, were fostered as I was challenged to think about why our world is the way it is. Studying Political Science helped me to develop a richer understanding of global issues and what it means to live in an increasingly interdependent world where both individual and greater political decisions have a global impact.

In my fourth year, I wrote my honors thesis entitled: “Human Trafficking in Cambodia: Assessing the Vulnerabilities” with Dr. Keeble as my supervisor. The project inspired me to seek out volunteer opportunities with overseas organization responding to this ever increasing human rights issue.

In 2013, I graduated from Saint Mary's University with an Honors Major in Political Science and a minor in International Development Studies. I then spent four months volunteering in Cambodia at an aftercare organization for rescued victims of child sex trafficking in the country's capital city of Phnom Penh.  One of my responsibilities was to teach English; the experience provided me with a completely different outlook on life in addition to a deeper understanding and appreciation for the power of education. I saw first-hand how it changed the lives of the girls in recovery. It decreased their vulnerabilities to be re-trafficked through the opportunities it awarded them in terms of employment, and it increased their confidence and self-esteem after such traumatic events. It was during this experience I realized that becoming a teacher would enable me to develop specific skills to have a capable response to social justice issues both globally and at home.

In May of 2016, I will graduate from Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax, Nova Scotia with a Bachelor of Education degree. My subject areas of teaching are Social Studies and French. Social justice, people, and traveling are what I am passionate about. I hope to bring my knowledge and interests into the classroom to engage students, and encourage them to be open-minded to the world around them. 

In September of 2016, I will begin my teaching career in London, England as a Geography teacher for grades 7-9. My Political Science degree has served as a foundation with which I discovered not only so much about the world I live in, but also about myself, what I am capable of, and what is important to me.

 

Casey Babb (2011)

Since graduating from Saint Mary's, I went on to York University where I earned an MA in Political Science, and even before I had completed that degree, I had moved to Ottawa to work for Minister MacKay at the Department of National Defence (DND). I ended up staying on and working for Minister Nicholson during his entire stay at defence, and following the last Cabinet shuffle, I left DND for a position in the public service at Natural Resources Canada. I'm now primarily responsible for working on geo-political files, and files related to Canadian energy security and market access.  During my MA, I was determined to enter into York's PhD programme, but I was given an opportunity at defence that I couldn't turn down. That said, as I've settled into Ottawa and gained greater job security in the public service, I've decided it's time to take the plunge and do my PhD. In September 2016 I'll begin my doctoral studies at the Norman Paterson School of International Affairs (NPSIA), and I can say with certainty, I would not have been accepted into NPSIA, nor would I be where I am today, if it wasn't for my time at Saint Mary's. 

 

Randall Crossman (2011)

I've been teaching English in Japan since 2011 on the Japanese Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET), which I highly recommend to anyone remotely interested. They have me teaching at four elementary schools and two junior high schools, and the students are mostly angels. JET surely cannot be beat in terms of learning about Japanese culture -- you're right there on the front lines, getting to see the education process in public schools. I especially recommend it to people who still aren't really sure what they want to do next and want to do something cool for a couple of years as they try to figure it out.

 

Ana Zbona (2011)

When the department asked me to write down my short biography as an example of a success story of a SMU graduate, the first question that popped into my head was: what is success and how do I define it? For me, success is not following a linearly defined path of collecting ever-more prestigious job titles, but rather always feeling like I’m acting in line with my values and sharing my personal and professional life with people that have similar ones. After I graduated as Valedictorian at Saint Mary's in 2011, I returned to my home country of Slovenia, where the economic crisis just started showing its teeth and the political establishment was leaning towards implementing austerity measures. For a year, I focused almost completely on political activism, becoming a very active member of a new political party/movement on the left. I was their regional coordinator, a member of the activists’ team and was responsible for the official communication on social media during the 2011 election campaign. Though I am not as active in the movement anymore because of living abroad, it is exciting to know I was a part of a birth of a party that is now the main opposition party in my country, which has pushed through a number of progressive laws in the past years. During the same year, I was working part time as an English teacher and part time as a strategist/project manager for an Association of trade unions in Slovenia. In 2012, I undertook a European Master’s course in Human Rights and Democratization. This practice-oriented course helped me get a fellowship at the European Union Delegation to the United Nations in Geneva, where I worked during two Human Rights Council Sessions. I participated in meetings at the UN, drafted resolutions, wrote speeches and represented EU stance in events. During the same year, I did research for the Slovenian Human Rights Ombudswoman, designing and helping carry out the first-ever evaluation of the first 20 years of the functioning of the institution. With the expertise that I developed regarding the functioning of the European Union, the United Nations, the human rights practice and especially the topics of Business and Human Rights and Women's rights, I moved to a new position as the Advocacy Assistant at Human Rights Watch's EU advocacy section in Brussels, where I assisted the Senior EU Advocate with advocacy, helped with strategy making, created advocacy material and did research on the effects of EU policies. My love for Latin America and the drive to be working more closely with direct beneficiaries of human rights and development initiatives, led to me recently accepting a position of a program manager with a Canadian-Peruvian NGO, Mosqoy, in Cusco, Peru. I’m now leading a fair-trade and community development program which is working with remote indigenous communities in the Sacred Valley near Cusco.  

 

Emma Fineblit (2010)

I graduated from SMU in 2010 with a B.A. Honours in Political Science and a major in International Development Studies (IDS). For my honours research I looked at Indigenous peoples' rights to self-determination in the Canadian context. As part of my IDS studies, I completed a semester at Uganda Martyrs University in Nkozi, Uganda. Both of these experiences carried forward to my life after graduation. I returned to my hometown of Winnipeg and worked for 2.5 years as the Assistant Director of a small inner-city youth-serving organization, where my focus turned to local community development. I then returned to East Africa and spent 4 months volunteering with local NGOs in Burundi. From 2013-15 I completed an M.A. in Planning, with a focus on Indigenous Community Planning, at the University of British Columbia. Most recently, I started working as Senior Lands Analyst with the Tsleil-Waututh Nation. My experience at SMU helped me develop a foundation in values and critical thinking, and my interest in community development and in Indigenous rights/ decolonization. I am grateful for some wonderful faculty members in the Department of Political Science who have continued to support me in my endeavours years after my graduation from SMU.

 

 Tim Anderson (2009)

 Since earning my BA Hons in Political Science at Saint Mary's University in 2009, I attended the University of Calgary to do a Master's degree under the supervision of Dr. Thomas Flanagan. During my MA, I received both the Queen Elizabeth II Scholarship as well as Master's SSHRC grant. I completed the MA in 2011 and began a PhD at the University of Calgary also under Dr. Flanagan's supervision. During the degree, I was awarded a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship. From my doctoral research on Sir John A Macdonald's political thought, I published a solo-authored piece in the National Post and I have papers under review at Political Science journals focussing on Macdonald and theories of terrorism. I hope to have my doctorate in political science completed by the Spring of 2016. There is no question that the skills I learned at Saint Mary's---close reading, critical thought, and writing skills---have been essential to my academic success after leaving.

 

Yulduz Kutlieva (2009)

After completing my honours degree in Political Science at Saint Mary's University I enrolled in masters program at Carleton University in Ottawa, where I continued to study migration and human trafficking issues. In order to improve my knowledge of French I moved to Quebec city after the graduation from the masters program. Afterwords, I moved to Western Canada in search of employment. I now work for the Alberta Immigrant Nominee Program as a Program Officer. I believe my bachelor's program has been a great help in achieving my goal of attaining a job in an area that I am passionate about.

 

Kalina McCaul (2009)

I completed my B.A. Honours Degree in Political Science with distinction (Magna Cum Laude) in 2009 under the supervision of Dr. Edna Keeble.  While at Saint Mary’s, I earned the Edmund Morris Memorial Scholarship, the William J. Dalton Memorial Scholarship, and the APV/ SMUSA International Mobility Award.  I also participated in the Study Abroad program, the Northern Ireland Peaceful Schools Initiative, and the Model United Nations Program. Since 2009, I have have worked with the Canadian Red Cross and was temporarily dispatched to Fort McMurray in the summer of 2016.  I also worked with Mines Action Canada in Nepal in 2013. I was awarded the Rotary International Peace Fellowship in March 2016 and will be taking residence at the Uppsala Rotary Peace Centre in Sweden to complete a Master of Social Science in Peace and Conflict Studies starting in September. During my time at Saint Mary’s, I gained a breadth of knowledge in the topics I was most passionate about as professors allowed me to direct my research accordingly, regardless of what class I took. 

 

 Phoebe Rai (2009)

 I completed my honours undergraduate degree in Political Science at Saint Mary's University in 2009. My experiences there inspired me to continue my education through the Conflict Analysis and Conflict Resolution stream of the Master of Arts in International Affairs program at Carleton University’s Norman Paterson School of International Affairs. I was selected for an internship with CANADEM, an Ottawa-based NGO, where I ultimately worked as a Program Officer throughout and after completing my degree in 2011. During this time, I had the privilege to contribute to a variety of programs including the Rapid-Onset Humanitarian Emergency Experts Fund, the Afghanistan Technical Assistance Program, and the International Election Observation Program. My biggest highlight was travelling to Ukraine for three separate elections between 2012 and 2014 where I both coordinated the logistics of the Canadian observer delegations and acted as Short Term Observer. I’ve since returned home to Halifax and am thrilled to be engaged in municipal politics as a Legislative Assistant for the Office of the Municipal Clerk, where I provide legislative support to Halifax Regional Council and various boards and committees including the Environment and Sustainability Standing Committee and Executive Standing Committee.

 

April Bateman (2008)

I graduated from Saint Mary's in May 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts, double majoring in Political Science and French. Following graduation I received a Canadian International Development Agency internship at UNDP Viet Nam, which was administered through SMU's International Activities Office. While at SMU I took the Model United Nations course and attended national and international Model United Nations conferences. Being a delegate at these conferences and Secretary of the Model UN Society helped me to gain experience in administration and negotiation— valuable assets in my new role at UNDP Viet Nam. Working in the Governance Cluster, I dealt with issues such as anti-corruption, human rights and corporate social responsibility. Inspired by my experience at UNDP Viet Nam, I decided to apply for graduate studies and was accepted at the University of Ottawa to the Masters program in Public and International Affairs.

During my time at the University of Ottawa, I worked with the International Development Research Centre as a summer student for the Policy and Planning Group. I conducted research on issues such as child and maternal health during the time Canada was developing its vision for the Child and Maternal Health Initiative. Studying Public and International Affairs intensified my desire to work abroad. As part of my Masters program, I spent four months living in Nairobi, working at the Canadian High Commission to Kenya. During this period I represented Canada at the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme. My time working as a liaison to UNEP led me to apply for a position in Montreal with the Secretariat to the Convention on Biological Diversity; I joined the Secretariat as a Programme Assistant in April 2011 during the second year of my graduate studies. I completed my Masters degree in December 2011 and have been employed with the Secretariat since. In starting out as a student at SMU, I was unsure of what career path I would take; however, with the support of the department’s professors and the International Activities office, I was afforded opportunities that have enriched my life tremendously, both personally and professionally. 

 

Alex Colgan (2008)

After graduating magna cum laude from SMU with a dual undergraduate degree in Political Science (Honors) and English (Major), I was awarded a Joseph-Armand Bombardier Master’s Scholarship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). In 2013, I earned a Master's degree in Social and Political Thought at the University of Regina, with my thesis on tentativeness and permeability in Hannah Arendt's political thought. Afterwards, I was hired as a remote part-time copywriter for Leap Motion, a San Francisco-based tech startup. Fast forward a couple of years, and I'm now their head writer and VR community lead. In essence, this means that I'm responsible for nearly all of the company's written content, along with whitepapers and stories on virtual reality design. (There's an example of one here.) Every day, I work with engineers, developers, and designers who are building the next big technological shift, one that's going to transform "the digital" from an abstracted experience behind glass, to a physical substance that will be on par with wood or glass or metal. As a side project, I also do some consulting for Thync, another California tech startup that's developed a mood-altering headset. All from my house in Yarmouth, where I Iive with my wife and daughter.

 

Sonia Gilroy (2008)

After graduating from Saint Mary's University in 2008 with a major in Political Science, I wanted to further develop my research skills, which led me to the University of Ottawa in pursuit of a Master of Arts at the School of Political Studies. Following this, I first put my studies to use in the CIDA International Youth Internship Programme (now DFATD), working as a researcher and educator for the Ministry of Health in the Commonwealth of Dominica. In 2011, I moved to St. John’s where I was employed as the Director of Resource Development for the AIDS Committee of Newfoundland and Labrador. In January 2013, I travelled to Sierra Leone to work for a research consultancy specialising in monitoring and evaluation of development projects. While I enjoyed working as a researcher, my goal was to gain employment with the United Nations, so in April 2014, I accepted a position as a United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) programme coordinator focusing on interventions aiming to improve reproductive, maternal, newborn and child health. Within a few weeks of working for UNFPA, Sierra Leone experienced its first cases of Ebola, which meant that regular programming and interventions came to an abrupt stop. All efforts were focused on the response to what grew to be the biggest outbreak of Ebola ever. My position shifted to coordination of the Ebola contact tracing efforts in support of the Ministry of Health and Sanitation. Currently, my role is two-fold; balancing my time between support to women’s reproductive health projects and to the Ebola response efforts. I hope to continue working for the UN until I eventually return to Canada. I am very grateful to Saint Mary's University for providing me with essential theoretical knowledge and practical skills which in turn have helped me to achieve my career objectives.

 

Michael Hughes (2008)

The Saint Mary's University Political Science Department offers a challenging and enriching learning environment. In particular, the department's diverse course offerings, small class sizes, and accessible faculty provided a space in which I could develop my critical thinking, communication, and writing skills while studying topics relevant to the changing political realities in Canada and the world. The honours programme, which includes a thesis and one-on-one supervision by a supervisor, provided invaluable training and preparation for graduate school. My experiences in the honours programme allowed me to feel prepared and confident to transition to graduate school, and the skills developed have helped me to successfully complete a Master's degree and pursue a PhD in political science. These skills have also assisted me in my work as a research fellow, and the high standard of teaching provided by the department has been an inspiration and example for me in my own classes.

 

Nicholas Kunysz (2008)

After graduating from SMU with an honours degree in Political Science I enrolled in an MA program in Political Science at Carleton University with a focus on international comparative politics and modern continental political theory. While there I published research on Central Asian authoritarianism in a major peer-reviewed academic journal. I also presented a pre-publication version of that project at the annual conference of the Central Eurasian Studies Society at Michigan State University. I also presented a version of my master's dissertation, which was on Russian government control of ''loyal'' opposition parties at another conference in Ottawa.

 After graduation I moved to Quebec City for a year to improve my French, where I worked a variety of odd jobs including English teacher. Following my year in Quebec I enrolled in a PhD program in political science at the University of British Columbia, where I was awarded a fellowship. While at UBC I chaired a panel of the British Columbia Political Studies Association's annual conference. After completing my coursework I withdrew from the PhD program to enroll in the University of Alberta's JD (law) program, where I have since been awarded two scholarships. The skills I developed in my political theory courses while at SMU played a critical role in my academic and publishing accomplishments thus far and I am thankful for the education I received there.

 

Brian LeBlanc (2008)

I graduated from Saint Mary's University in 2008 with a double major in Political Science and International Development Studies. While at Saint Mary's I developed a keen interest in local government politics and it became the topic of my honors thesis.  After graduating in 2008, influenced by my interest in local government politics, I ran for public office at the municipal level for a seat on Halifax Regional Council.  While I was ultimately unsuccessful in this contest it was a fantastic experience and one that I would recommend for anyone considering it.  This experience confirmed for me that I wanted to work in the public service.  This led me to my choice in graduate studies which was the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program at Dalhousie University.  After graduating in 2012 from the MPA I accepted a position with the government of Alberta in Alberta Treasury Board and Finance.  I have been in Alberta for three amazing years now and am currently with Alberta Municipal Affairs where I support an Executive Director’s office in the area of property assessment and taxation policy.

 

JD Bridges (2007)

The Political Science programme at Saint Mary’s University provided an invaluable experience to develop the necessary practical skills to be successful throughout my professional career.

As part of the programme, I participated on two trips to Model United Nations conferences in Ottawa and New York City. These were tremendous experiences that allowed me to develop an advanced understanding of international institutions and to challenge my ideas and world view in a hands-on setting.

While at Saint Mary’s, I also took advantage of opportunities offered through the International Office. I participated on a Holocaust study trip to Germany and the Czech Republic, I attended a French language exchange program in France, and I was selected for an internship placement at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in the Czech Republic. I credit Saint Mary’s for offering programs to travel abroad and to extend learning outside the classroom.

In 2007, I undertook a Master of Science degree in International and European Politics at the University of Edinburgh. While at Edinburgh, I drew on the critical thinking and analysis skills I developed at Saint Mary’s while writing my master’s dissertation that analyzed the politicization of Russian energy resources as an instrument of foreign policy.

After graduation, I began an internship at the Bank of New York Mellon, in London, England. It was an interesting experience as my first day was September 15th, 2008 - the day financial markets collapsed. While a great learning experience to be at the epicentre of British banking during the financial crisis, I decided to return to Canada and pursue a career in public policy.

From 2010 to 2015, I served in various roles in the Canadian federal government. Most recently as Director of Policy and Acting Chief of Staff in the Office of Canada’s Minister of National Revenue. Working at the highest level of Canadian public policy was a rewarding and challenging experience.

I attribute the success that I achieved over the past decade directly to my undergraduate studies in the Department of Political Science at Saint Mary’s University. I credit the professors at Saint Mary’s for encouraging critical thought, an open exchange of ideas, and a strong emphasis on fact-based research. The education that I received in the Political Science program gave me a solid foundation of practical skills on which I have been able to pursue rewarding and challenging professional experiences.

 

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