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Political Science Department presents new internships and field trips for students

Political science professor Troy Smith stands in front of a crowd of seated people
Photo by Chad Hsieh

The Little Theater became filled with students when the Political Science faculty presented new changes to the major and opportunities such as internships and field trips to Washington, D.C., Thailand, and the United Nations in New York City.

Political science students at BYU–Hawaii said the reasons they chose the major are to make a difference in the world and they love the subject matter and the faculty members who teach it. Student added they also appreciate the opportunities to learn about the world and make connections with people through internships and field trips.

Sara Sharp, a junior from Washington majoring in political science, said, “For students interested in pursuing the major, I would say you don’t have to have a clear idea what you want to do after college. That part comes as you specialize in a field, just like all majors.

“I would recommend those [who are] interested be sure they have a strong interest in the subject matter, be committed to the hard work it takes and know how to handle constructive criticism. In other words, it helps to have a devotion to your studies and thick skin.

“The teachers are incredible in their knowledge of their subjects and their willingness to work with you one on one. They are also famous for having the best lectures on campus.”

Sharp said the political science faculty are dedicated in teaching their students and helping them transfer into the workforce. The faculty highlighted the different certificates that are available that are helpful on resumes: Governance, International Development, Legal Studies, Criminal Justice, and Emergency Management.

Opportunity to visit Thailand

The political science faculty mentioned there are opportunities students should take to help them with their futures. One example is a trip to Thailand. However, students must be chosen by the professor in order to take part of the trip. Students Sara Sharp and Gabe Fryar, a senior from Pennsylvania, both went to Thailand during the summer.

Sara Sharp said, “The Thailand trip was an excellent opportunity to learn about NGOs, their structure, their social impact and how they help the states they are in.

“The trip also allowed us to explore the foreign service. We visited the U.S. Embassy and the Philippine Embassy. The trip was fulfilling in two ways: professional development and international experience.”

She added, “For professional development, I got to talk with people in many different fields, discuss opportunities for internships, and understand what specific jobs require.

“For international experience, I got the opportunity to explore Thai culture and interact with the people. The trip was well-rounded in providing students with opportunities to grow professionally and personally.

The trip requires you to sign up for two classes, both at the 300 level. One is the classroom instruction and the other is the trip itself.”

Trips like Thailand brought students insight and experience about international organizations and experience in different cultures. Fryar said, “The Thailand trip was a great opportunity to see where and how I could be employed internationally with political science experience. Not only was it great for networking, but also reaffirmed my goal of working in the State Department in the Foreign Service, being able to see both personal and professional sides of [Foreign Service Officers].”

Choosing political science

Fryar said, “I chose to major in political science after taking the Introduction to International Relations class. Originally, I was strictly an information computer science major, but that class made me want to double major.

“I found myself genuinely interested in what I was learning. I was doing my own readings outside of class about the topics or events covered in class. I figured I would do more classes and kept finding I wanted to keep learning more.

Umi Williams, a freshman from Hawaii majoring in political science, said, “The world is in a critical position, politically speaking. This type of knowledge is essential to surviving. I learned political science offers many opportunities for everyone. I learned our program at BYUH is very good.

“I would go for criminal justice and legal studies just because I’m interested in those things. I want to be an FBI agent or Secret Service one day, and I know those certificates will help.”

A political science major not only focuses on theories and philosophy, but also public policy and how to become a public servant. The way the faculty constructed the major’s program meets the mission statement and vision of BYUH: “Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve.”

Elizabeth Allen, a freshman from Oregon, shared why she also decided to major in political science. “I've always been interested in how government works and how people rise to power. For a future career, I'm interested in working for the State Department, so I figured I'd start learning now.

“From the meeting, I learned about how many different certificates this school offers, which was surprising considering the size of the school. I also learned about how great the faculty is regarding internships and job opportunities.”