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Alumni Profiles

Graduates of Saint Louis University's Department of Political Science go on to study law, international affairs, urban planning, and many other subjects.

Graduates work in government, business and non-profit organizations both in the United States and abroad. Read more about what graduates are doing with their political science degrees. 

Government

Chad Kreikemeier '03
Chad Kreikemeier (honors B.A. 2003, summa cum laude) received the Mario Ross Leadership Award for his outstanding leadership and service contributions during his years at Saint Louis University.  Kreikemeier was elected to Student Government Executive Board as Administrative Vice President (academic year 2000-2001) and then elected as Financial Vice President for the academic year 2002-2003. After graduating from SLU, Kreikemeier earned his M.A. in Security Policy Studies at George Washington University' Elliott School of International Affairs.  

Working in Washington D.C., Kreikemeier appreciates the lessons he learned at Saint Louis University.  He explains, "From my very first days at SLU, we were taught stewardship and to be men and women for others--concepts which have stuck with me throughout my professional career."  SLU's focus on learning and understanding the differences and the value of diversity of opinions has been a valuable lesson for Kreikemeier as he has worked on both sides of the aisle in Washington D.C.'s partisan political atmosphere.  He particularly attributes the political science department's emphasis on public service and their efforts on teaching students "how to think, not simply what to think" to the success in his professional career.  During his time at SLU, Kreikemeier took advantage of the undergraduate honors thesis option in the political science department, which allowed him to pursue his own interests and gave him the opportunity to discover his own method of learning.  According to Kreikemeier, the honor's thesis "truly prepared me well for a world in which self-motivation, independent drive, and personal reflections can serve you well.  Nearly a decade later, I continue to engage those principles in my professional practice."

Kreikemeier's work as Defense and Foreign Policy Advisor to Senator Shaheen, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, took him around the globe.  His work on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranged from briefings, hearing preparations and advising to involvement with the Senate's ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia.  Kreikemeier reflects on his passion for foreign affairs and international politics and concludes that SLU's political science Department gave him his first look into the dynamic world of international relations.  Although the classes engaged him immensely, it wasn't until his junior year and the events of 9/11 that he recognized the real threat of national security and the delicate balance of the international system.  It was on that day, Kreikemeier says, that he knew he wanted to work in the areas of foreign policy and national security issues. 

Law

Theresa Chalhoub '06
Theresa Chalhoub graduated from SLU in 2006, summa cum laude with an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Psychology. While at SLU, she was active both on and off campus. She was a legislative intern and staff assistant for U.S. Congressman Russ Carnahan and a victim's advocate for the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney in St. Louis. Chalhoub received a Presidential Scholarship from SLU, served as Panhellenic Vice President of Recruitment and was active in Oriflamme, the new student welcome association. Chalhoub received a number of awards both for her academic achievements and for her involvement in student activities.

Since graduating from SLU, Chalhoub's work has taken her around the world and across the United States. She taught English to grade school and high school students in Changsha, China, under the auspices of the WorldTeach program. After that, she was a field organizer and then out of state volunteer coordinator for Hillary Clinton's campaign for president. In this work, Theresa implemented grassroots programs and voter contact plans, coordinated volunteers from across the country, and worked on primary campaigns in New Hampshire, Missouri, Nebraska, Texas, and Pennsylvania. In Fall 2008, she began work on a joint degree: J.D. from New York University and M.P.A. from the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton.

Chaloub says, "During my time at SLU I learned the value of public service, both to the people I serve and to my own personal growth and understanding of the world. The Jesuit tradition and culture of SLU really instilled this lesson in me and gave me a clear understanding of the way people across the world are connected and how we must do all we can to help every person, not just those near us. In my political science classes, I learned about the history, culture, and traditions of places around the globe, which gave me a desire to see the places I was reading about. I was lucky to study abroad at SLU's campus in Madrid, traveling to many countries around Europe and broadening my understanding of international culture and politics."

Chaloub adds that the smaller size of the SLU political science department allowed her to get to know her professors and work closely with them. She has relied on their help and advice even after leaving SLU.

Michael Harris '11
Michael Harriss (B.A. in Political Science and History, magna cum laude, 2011) was president of the Student Government Association during the 2009-2010 academic year. As such, he served on the President's Coordinating Council, the Board of Trustees' Student Development committee, the Servant Leadership Vision Team, and the Search Committee for the Vice President of the main campus.

Issues of race and racism on campus provided Harris with some particular challenges as SGA president. Harris reflects, "That was one of the most complex, real-life issues that SGA has had to face in recent memory, and it wasn't an easy task for myself or the organization, but I'm really proud of the way the organization handled the situation and tirelessly worked to listen to the student concerns and try to formulate practical solutions to a complex problem that the entire country has to face."

Harris considers his most fulfilling accomplishment as SGA president to be winning final approval for the Outdoor Recreation Complex at the medical center. Harris says, "The new field is going to be a great addition for students playing intramurals or club sports, and it will open space on the North campus for drop-in recreation. This was a huge project, and it's always rewarding to get a positive response from the administration when presenting something of this scope."

Harris thinks that the study of political science contributed to his success as SGA president. His classes helped him understand how to work within the university structure, analyze policy issues, and formulate responses to issues as they came up. In particular, his study of political science helped him to see the difference between the hard power to force things to happen and the soft power of persuasion. Harris explains, "All too often, SGA presidents see the organization as having ample amounts of hard power and attempt to challenge the university on those grounds, but the truly effective presidents are the ones who recognize the nature of power and use the influence of soft power, which I would argue is unmatched in any other position, to effectively challenge the system and promote student concerns."

Harris also worked hard over the summers, studying at Harvard one summer and the London School of Economics another. He worked on the Kilteasheen Archeological Project in Ireland, excavating a 14th century religious site as part of a team of students and archeologists. He credits his Jesuit education for making him "an individual committed to finding true solidarity with others, respecting the human dignity of all persons, having the knowledge to be cognizant of obvious injustices and, most importantly, the courage to stand up for those values."

Harris wrote an honors thesis in the history department, drawing on his study of constitutional law with Hall. The thesis, "District of Columbia v. Hetter: Elucidating the Debate through History," took an historical approach to understanding the principal disagreements between Justice Scalia and Justice Stevens by exploring eighteenth-century sources related to the Second Amendment. 

Daniel McGinnis '09
Daniel McGinnis is a Chicago native and a double major in Political Science and History. He is interested in American and world politics, has worked on political campaigns, and became a leader in the Saint Louis University community. He is a member of Pi Sigma Alpha (the national Political Science honor society), Phi Alpha Theta (the national History honor society), and Omicron Delta Kappa (the national leadership honor society). After graduation in 2009, he joined Teach for America.

McGinnis was active with the Great Issues Committee, including service as chair for the 2007-2008 academic year. The Great Issues Committee brings many speakers to campus, and McGinnis was involved in all aspects of their visits, from planning security to organizing receptions. McGinnis was also a part of the Student Conduct Board, serving as Chief Justice during the 2008-2009 academic year.

McGinnis worked on two political campaigns: as a field staffer in Iowa for the John Edwards for President campaign and as a staff assistant for Steve Rauschenberger's bid for Lieutenant Governor of Illinois. He has also had internships in the DuPage County State Attorney's Office and in the Institute on Philanthropy and Voluntary Service at Georgetown University.

During summers, McGinnis participated in foreign travel programs with the International Scholar Laureate Program. In 2007, he spent three weeks in China; in 2008, he spent three in South Africa.

McGinnis says, "The Department of Political Science has educated and challenged me both inside and outside the classroom. They offered a number of excellent internships that allowed me the opportunity to apply the skills I learned in the classroom in the real world."

International Careers

Katherine Krueger '10
Kate Krueger, originally from a small farming community in central Illinois, was drawn to Saint Louis University from the start. Though her original image of a Catholic university was of "some sort of ivy-shrouded paradise where everyone sat around discussing philosophy in suits and ties, drinking their coffee black," she found that she was particularly attracted by SLU's commitment to social justice and to finding ways to improve the lives of some of society's most marginalized people. Awarded a Martin Luther King Jr. scholarship, Krueger went on to earn a triple major in political science, tnternational studies and Italian studies, with a certificate in Foreign Service. As part of her undergraduate work, Krueger wrote an honors thesis on "Regionalism, Populism, and the Rise of the Europe's New Right: A Case Study of Italy's Lega Nord," and presented her findings at the Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting in Chicago. She was selected outstanding student in the political science department in 2010.

Krueger says that what made her experience at SLU so remarkable was "the outstanding quality and character of the professors I had over four years. I cherish the relationships I've formed with those professors that I have gotten to know and even more, the ability I've had to draw and synthesize resources and guidance from multiple departments to tailor my education to my exact interests." She adds, "The experiences I've had at this university have snowballed into a set of opportunities and achievements that I never could have imagined on my own."

Krueger spent a semester abroad studying in Rome and volunteering at a refugee center. She followed that up with a State Department internship in the political section of the US Embassy in Rome. During that internship, Krueger assisted with logistical planning for a G8 conference, compiled press briefings, conducted original research, and attended a variety of meetings with Italian and American government officials. Back in St. Louis, she volunteered at the Center for Survivors of Torture and War Trauma. The political science department sent her to the Student Conference on United States Affairs at West Point. She served as president of the Italian club and Awareness Director of the SLU chapter of Keep a Child Alive, which she also helped found.


Xinzhe "Quang" Zhang ' '09
Xinzhe "Quang" Zhang chose political science as a major because it combines many of his interests: law, history, government, economics, and international relations. His strong interest in international relations led him to study in Beijing for a semester during his junior year.

Zhang was challenged to "excavate China" and to fully immerse himself in the culture. After studying Asian politics at SLU--Quang cites Asian Miracles as his favorite class--it was especially rewarding to be able to make connections between his studies and real world situations. Zhang describes his time in China as the most most exciting experience of his life.

After completing his undergraduate studies in political science, economics and international studies, Zhang attended law school where he focused on international law and human rights issues.

Why is Zhang glad that he chose to study political science? He says, "My political science background has prepared me to think critically about the world around me and my place in it; even better, it has opened up a broad range of opportunities for my future."

Joshua Bickl '10
Joshua Bickl was an Honors political science, French, and international studies major. He also pursued minors in Russian and Italian and certificates in Foreign Service and Russian and East European Studies. Bickl's interest in Political Science stems from a desire to understand foreign cultures better.

In the summer of 2009, Bickl made some progress in that regard. He worked as an intern with Art Child in Paris, where his proficiency in French was very handy. Bickl frequently visited UNESCO, presenting proposals and describing Art Child's plans. He also served as a liaison between the French headquarters of Art Child and the new American branch. Bickl says that the internship was exciting because he had lots of contact with diplomats and was able to observe cultural differences in the way diplomats from various parts of the world went about their jobs.

At Saint Louis University, Bickl tutored in French, Italian, Russian and Political Science. He also helped adult refugees and immigrants learn English at the International Institute in St. Louis. Bickl was a member of Pi Delta Phi (the national French honor society) and Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honor society). As far as activities at SLU go, Bickl says that he especially enjoyed movie nights in the foreign language department.

Public Opinion Research

Courtney Anvender '11
Courtney Anvender (honors B.A. 2011, magna cum laude), was selected the outstanding political science student for 2011.  During the 2010-2011 academic year, she served as president of the Student Government Association. She was also active in Phi Alpha Delta pre-law fraternity, Alpha Delta Pi sorority, and College Republicans. In the spring semester of 2009 and summer 2010, she studied in London. Anvender is also a published poet, with a poem in the Anthology of Poetry by Young Americans. After graduation, she was hired as a research associate doing international market research and polling at Ipsos Public Affairs in Washington D.C.

Courtney chose to major in political science because she was intrigued by the diversity of course offerings. She says, "This array of classes appeals to and complements my varied interests in history, domestic politics, and foreign affairs. Also, many political science classes are small in size and are discussion oriented. You develop great relationships with your peers and teachers so you become easily engaged in the material."

During the 2008 elections, Courtney worked as an assistant to Kenneth Warren, Ph.D., who heads the Warren Poll in addition to teaching at Saint Louis University. She worked primarily on a poll that  Warren conducted for the St. Louis Beacon, an online newspaper. Anvender recruited workers to conduct polls at 28 polling sites around the city of St. Louis, St. Louis county, St. Charles county, and Jefferson county. She worked with Warren to prepare materials and was herself out on the ground asking questions on election day.

Courtney says work on the Beacon poll "gave me insight into the massive organizational hurdles associated with conducting a successful poll." She adds, "The lessons I learned have helped me in my political science classes, and I know they will continue to benefit me in the future."

Courtney completed an undergraduate honors thesis on the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland, "Peace with Justice: the Political Development of the Catholic Church in Northern Ireland between the Civil Rights Movement in 1968 and the IRA Hunger Strikes in 1981." While she was working on the thesis, Courtney was able to visit Belfast and see how tensions between Catholics and Protestants had impacted the city. This first-hand knowledge helped strengthen her analysis in the thesis itself. She presented her findings at the Southern Political Science Conference in New Orleans.

The thing that Courtney particularly values about her SLU education is the university's commitment to the Jesuit mission. Courtney says, "All of my classes seek to develop our critical thinking ability. We are encouraged to ask questions and consider different points of view. It is clear that SLU's ultimate goal for us is to be 'men and women for others' by using our education to better our society and the world."

Mary Slosar '03
Mary Slosar graduated from Saint Louis University in 2003, summa cum laude with an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. She earned her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Texas at Austin in 2011, with a dissertation on "The Politics of Personality: Candidate-centered Voting in New and Established Democracies." She has presented a number of conference papers, mostly on voter behavior. She was awarded the Malcom MacDonald Dissertation Fellowship, among many other grants. She has also worked as the Director of Research and Evaluation for an anti-poverty non-profit in Washington, DC.

While at SLU, Mary participated in many community and social justice activities, including a SLU-CAP spring break trip to volunteer at a Mexican refugee/immigrant center in southern Texas and a lobbying excursion to Washington, DC to meet with members of Congress about the School of the Americas. She had two internships during her undergraduate years at Congressman Lacy Clay's St. Louis office and with the local chapter of the United Nations Association. Slosar honed her Spanish language skills at the SLU Madrid campus. Immediately after graduation, she spent nine months in El Salvador, teaching English and helping to coordinate an international electoral observation mission for the 2004 presidential elections. Her interest in El Salvador had been sparked by her research for her undergraduate honors thesis, "Leftist Political Parties and Popular Civil Society in El Salvador and Guatemala."

Mary feels that her undergraduate degree in political science provided great preparation for her graduate work. She says, "The best preparation I had for graduate school was being challenged to think critically about real world problems, practicing to propose and evaluate arguments, and learning how to express ideas well in writing and speaking."

Mary adds, "If I had to choose one aspect of my education at SLU that I value most, it would have to be the quantity and quality of opportunities that I had to interact with professors and students. At SLU, you are not just one of many students going in and out of the classrooms; you are an individual who matters both inside and outside the classroom. Many of my friends experienced a similar sense of belonging and community in their undergraduate experiences at other universities, but for most, it was limited to the social sphere and only among other students. At SLU, this sense of community penetrates the academic halls and classrooms as well, which is due primarily to the faculty's commitment to get to know their students and provide opportunities for meaningful interaction and learning."

Non-Profit Organizations

Molly Berendt '09
When she arrived at Saint Louis University her freshmen year with a Presidential Scholarship, Molly Berendt already knew that she wanted to major in political science. She began taking political science courses right away and became an active member of the Political Science Club. However, it was not until she returned from a year studying abroad in Lyon, France, that the political science department really became her home at SLU. Berendt left as a freshman and returned as a junior, and the political science department was the one place on campus that provided her with some consistency: the professors, the students, and the Political Science Club were still there, and she fit in without feeling that she missed a full year.

Berendt quickly stepped up as the president of the Political Science Club. The recurring "Coffee with a Professor" event was her favorite club activity as she appreciated having the opportunity to meet with professors outside of the academic setting. Berendt says, "finding out about their lives, families, and passions gives us a more holistic view of the people we see every day in the classroom and in the hallways." She also participated in recruiting and selecting new faculty members for the political science department.

In addition to her political science major, Berendt majored in French and international studies, and she was a Pre-Law Scholar. She participated in a number of organization on SLU's campus over the years - mock trial, intramural soccer - and was inducted into several honor societies including the Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, and Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society. During the fall 2008 semester, Molly worked as a Teach for America Campus Campaign Coordinator. She has also worked as a teacher's aide at the International Institute. 

Berendt would recommend political science as a major to others who are interested in learning about and questioning the world around them. She says, "My political science classes have been tougher than any others I've taken at Saint Louis University. They have challenged me to engage the material, study hard, formulate concepts and theories and apply them to big picture problems and situations."

Emergency Management

Alfredo Lagos '99
Alfredo Lagos graduated from Saint Louis University in 1999, with two B.A. degrees, one in political science and philosophy, and the other in international studies and Spanish. Immediately after graduation, he worked as an AmeriCorps volunteer, responding to natural disasters throughout the United States. He worked with the U.S. Forest Service and state public land managers to respond to wildfires, and he trained AmeriCorps members in emergency preparedness. In 2004, he earned a Master of Science of Engineering Management, with a concentration in Crisis, Emergency, and Risk Management at George Washington University. Since then, Lagos has worked in a number of positions in the field of emergency management.

Lagos has worked as an emergency management response specialist at the Computer Sciences Corporation in Alexandria, Virginia, working in support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Water Security Division. Lagos' work supports efforts by drinking water and wastewater utilities throughout the country to be better prepared for emergencies and disasters. Lagos also contributes his expertise to emergency planning for the Department of the Army, and he is an instructor for the D.C. Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency.

Lagos considers that what he learned at SLU has helped him in his professional life. He says, "First, I use the general background in U.S. government structure and political theory learned as a poli sci major to develop practical solutions that have to work across and in support of local, state, and federal governments. Second, I use the comparative analysis approaches learned as a poli sci major to evaluate alternatives and propose recommendations to private sector and government clients. Third, I rely on investigative research and communication skills that I developed while at SLU." Lagos notes that what he learned in his political science methods class has proven much more useful than he thought it would at the time.

While at Saint Louis University, Lagos was a Saint Ignatius Service Scholar. In that capacity, he served the St. Louis community through a variety of volunteer assignments over a four year period. Lagos was also an active member of the SLU Outdoor Club and the Classical Fencing Society at SLU. Lagos studied abroad at the SLU Madrid campus and at the Boston University London campus.

Lagos has always sought to embody the concept of a Renaissance man, and he found that the broad base of knowledge integral to a Jesuit education helped him toward that goal. He says that SLU "fosters a dynamic learning environment that encourages collaboration, creativity, and the value of learning from one's mistakes." He adds that a SLU education "encourages the use of all our skills and talents, grit, compassion, and love, to confront and solve tough problems facing our community, our country, and our world."

Further Study

Sarika Gupta 
Sarika Gupta came to Saint Louis University as a Presidential Scholar from O'Fallon, Illinois. She participated in student government, serving among other positions as Chair of the Diversity Leadership Cabinet. She was particularly active in the Indian Students Association and the Hindu Students Council. She was a member of Phi Beta Kappa and Alpha Epsilon Delta, the Honors Pre-Health Society. Gupta was selected by the political science department for the Best Student Award in 2008, the year she graduated.

Though originally a pre-medical student, Gupta undertook majors in political science and international studies out of interest. While she found her science classes stimulating, it was her social science classes that addressed her most deep-rooted interests in social justice.

From an early age, Gupta had traveled to India with her family and had witnessed extreme poverty. But, before her education at SLU, she lacked the categories and theories that would help her understand the social, political, and economic complexities of poverty. As a result of her political science classes, Gupta began to question her desire to attend medical school. She says, "I started to feel that instead of treating the illnesses of individual patients, I wanted to take up the challenge of addressing the underlying issues that plague society as a whole."

To figure out how to do this, Gupta undertook a summer internship with UNICEF's Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Unit in New York. Using a stipend she received as part of her Presidential scholarship, she traveled to India over winter break and worked with Deepalaya, a non-governmental organization in New Delhi. After graduation, she attended the London School of Economics where she is pursuing a Masters of Development Studies. She wants to help find practical solutions to issues related to third world poverty by working for an international humanitarian organization like UNICEF or by working directly with NGOs based in developing countries themselves.

Gupta concludes, "I can sincerely say that my time here at SLU has allowed me to come alive. The more I engrossed myself in my social science classes, in my extracurricular activities, in my work experiences, and in my faith, the more firmly I could hold on to my deepest convictions in the face of family, social, and cultural pressure pushing me toward medical school. My SLU education essentially opened my eyes to my true self and gave me the confidence to follow the deepest dreams in my heart."


Jennifer Mertens '09
Jennifer Mertens graduated from Saint Louis University in 2009, summa cum laude, with an Honors Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, International Studies, and Spanish. She was selected by the Political Science department for the Best Student Award in 2009. As an undergraduate, Mertens was a member of Micah House, an intentional faith-based service community working for social justice and peace. She also studied at SLU's Madrid campus, participated in Spring break mission trips to El Salvador, taught in a Peruvian slum, and was an active member of the Political Science club. She served as an intern in the Hamilton County Prosecutor's office in her native Cincinnati, and she performed political advocacy for the Saint Cecilia's Hispanic Ministry Center.

During her time at SLU, Mertens considered a number of different career options. An oceanography class left her so intrigued by the concept of underwater waterfalls that she considered becoming an oceanographer. While taking an English-Spanish translation class in Spain, she excitedly planned a future career in linguistics. It was Weiss' feminist political theory class that helped her see that law school was not the right career path for her. After graduation, she began writing a book on her religious calling and pursued an M.A. at the Chicago Theological Seminary.

Mertens speaks eloquently about her time at Saint Louis University: "I consider my spiritual growth to be the greatest testament to my SLU education. In part, this stems from an expanded understanding of my Catholic faith through SLU's emphasis on Church social teachings. ...Constantly, I was being challenged to discern, and then live out my faith values in a greater social context. In my Pax Christi group, for example, our belief in nonviolence led us to sponsor and participate in social actions that challenged the belief systems legitimizing the Iraq war." Mertens encountered many spiritual traditions at SLU. She says, "From my friendship with a Muslim student, to attending worship services in other faith communities, my SLU experience contributed immensely to my respect for and interest in the many expressions of the human experience."

Mertens says about the many friends that she has made at SLU: "Whether after an invigorating classroom discussion, public speaker, or just a weekend camping trip, we constantly search together for the language to uncover and articulate the underlying truths of our experiences. Indeed, we are a community of friends and thinkers who love to explore the depth and meaning of life itself."