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Junior to Participate in Exclusive Predoctoral Summer Institute

Katherine Stohlman

Alexander Allen

For junior Alexander Allen, acceptance to an elite political science summer program is a matter of both pragmatism and passion. While he looks forward to networking—and a resume boost—after attending Georgetown University’s Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute, the prospect is “also just really exciting,” he noted. Applying for the summer program was surprisingly easy, but he knows he has his work cut out for him with graduate school applications and is eager to prepare as much as possible, with the help of Georgetown and Mount faculty.

The Georgetown University Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute is an annual, week-long program to help students studying political science connect and learn more about their postgraduate options. The program is selective; only students attending schools in the greater Washington, D.C. metro area may apply, and only 20 of those students are selected every year. Acceptance also includes funding for travel, lodging, and a $1,000 stipend.

The program is not merely academic. As per the program’s webpage, the Summer Institute gives participants the opportunity to research different political science Ph.D. programs, workshop the materials and process for applying to these programs, and discuss areas of interest with fellow students. It’s “preparation for the process and preparation for the work [of graduate school],” Alexander surmised. Even after the week is over, participants can reach out to Georgetown faculty for guidance.

While predoctoral may be the name, political science is certainly the game, so to speak. Alexander, who is minoring in international relations and history, credits his love of the subject to growing up in a family that fostered political awareness and conversation, and a keen interest in a high school government class that he took during the 2016 presidential election. He realized that he was literally taking part in history, and that this was bona fide career field, not just a dinner table discussion. These days, his specialty lies in international and comparative politics more than American politics. He’s planning to pursue a Ph.D. in political science with a focus in one of those areas.

Although an advanced degree and a career in academia have been Alexander’s goals for several years now, he emphasizes that it wasn’t until he came to the Mount that this goal flourished. After briefly attending a community college near home and a four-year school in Tennessee, he finally landed at the Mount—and has been blown away by the relationships he’s developed with his professors. When asked about the best part of studying at the Mount, he doesn’t hesitate before replying, “unquestionably, the faculty…that answer is so clear it’s almost hard to elaborate on.”

 He notes that being in an environment where he could have meaningful interactions with professors led to countless learning experiences, moments of encouragement, and opportunities. The other colleges he attended were so large, he felt as if he had to hunt down instructors. But at the Mount, they were eager to help from day one. He particularly appreciates the guidance of Assistant Professor of Political Science William Christiansen, Ph.D., who wrote his recommendation for the Summer Institute, and Allison Berland, Ph.D., a lecturer in the Political Science Department. “I owe a lot to the political science department here.”

Katherine Stohlman