Marissa graduated with a major in Political Science, minor in History, and a Legal Studies Emphasis in 2014. (She missed commencement, however, because she was studying abroad with us in Europe at the time!) During her years at UW Oshkosh, she worked in the department office and built solid working relationships with members of the faculty. “I was inspired attend graduate school by the wonderful faculty at UW Oshkosh (sounds cheesy, but it’s the truth),” Marissa writes. “The professors of Political Science at UWO care so deeply about the students and their education. I admired their dedication and commitment to the students that I wanted to do the same. I was in my junior year when I applied for the McNair Scholars Program on campus. Through the McNair program, I was able to get first-hand research experience with Professor Krueger as my mentor.”
Applying for graduate school is a full-time job in and of itself, but Marissa had a beautiful track record of accomplishments that set her apart. “During my senior year I applied to a number of different schools and was lucky enough to be accepted at the University of Minnesota, which has a stellar Political Psychology Center. The program has been challenging in many ways, but when I look at what I get to do each day, I don’t think I’d be happy doing anything else. The political psychology group meets once a week and graduate students from mass communication, political science, and psychology all come together to discuss the newest research or issues in the field, such as issues related to motivated reasoning, political competence, or data transparency.”
Now, Marissa is in her third year of the doctoral program, and just finished coursework and her written comprehensive exams. She’s also a teaching assistant for a Campaigns and Elections course. “I study American Politics, political psychology and political networks in the broadest sense,” she says. “More specifically, I am interested in (and am hoping to study) how people discuss politics and how the structures around them affect that discussion. For example, I’d like to look at how polarization affects people’s willingness to discuss politics in specific environments, such as a workplace. In turn, I’d like to see how people’s workplaces, or their specific careers, affect their political attitudes.” She begins work on her dissertation soon.
Marissa will begin the academic job search soon. “My dream job would be at a university that balances both teaching and research. I’d like to be able to have strong relationships with the students like so many of the faculty at UWO have, but I’ve also grown to appreciate the value of research and its contributions to the field of political science. Being at a school that values, and invests in both would be ideal. I would love to teach a class in political psychology, women and politics, or campaigns and elections (or all 3!) in the near future.”
What advice does Marissa have for students who are interested in pursuing a similar path? “Get started early. Try to get as much research experience you can either through research assistantships or through the Undergraduate Student/Facutly Collaborative Research grants. Try to get published in the Oshkosh Scholar or present at a conference. There are a number of great resources to take advantage of that will propel a graduate career. The key, I think, is finding a professor who shares similar interest who would be willing to work with you and help you advance your research, even if that research starts from a class paper.”
Feel free to email Marissa at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions you may have about graduate school in general, the application process (as it’s a pretty lengthy one), or the McNair Scholars Program.
We’re excited to count Marissa not only as an alum, but also a colleague in the profession!