If you are a student at or graduate of Marian and would like to write a testimonial, please contact the site administrator by clicking here.

Michael Jefferies (political science major, alum)

My name is Michael Jefferies and I am a 2019 alumnus of Marian University and I was proud to graduate Summa Cum Laude with majors in both Political Science and Theology. I am sad to learn of the administration’s intention to shut down the Political Science program at Marian University and I hope to provide a testimony of the education I received in the political science program with the hope that they will reconsider.
I transferred to Marian in the Fall of 2016 from Ball State where I was a Political Science Major in their Honors College program to pick up a theology degree to complement my political science education. Despite being accepted into several other schools, I chose Marian due to strong recommendations from some of Marian’s successful alumni (including political science alumni), its prime location for internships, and its global studies program. However, I can safely say that I never would have considered applying to Marian if it did not offer a major in political science since I knew I wanted to serve in the political realm crafting policy solutions to further the common good.
After transferring, I was very impressed by the political science education I received at Marian. The classes were significantly more rigorous than the classes I received in Ball State’s much larger program, and the strong curriculum was complemented by knowledgeable and caring professors who are serious about helping their students become critical thinkers who are prepared for the future. As a political science major at Marian, I found an environment where I was able to thrive. as my professors helped me to work around my numerous political internships and supported me and a fellow political science major in founding a chapter of College Republicans where we were able to bring speakers to campus such as Senator Mike Braun, who was a candidate for Senate at the time, and engage students in the 2018 midterm elections. I formed close relationships with my professors, including Dr. Atlas, who encouraged me to apply for a prestigious Governor’s Fellowship and helped me to successfully navigate the application and interview process.
Furthermore, my political science classes played a key role in preparing me for my career in governmental affairs, where I work as the Director of Client Services for Hallowell Consulting, a small governmental affairs and political consulting firm. Classes such as Model UN, Policymaking, and Ethnic Conflicts and Civil Wars directly prepared me for my career by helping me understand the policymaking process and challenging me to envision policy solutions to address complex, real-world problems. Other classes, such as Political Theory, Politics of the Middle East, and Politics of the Global Economy played an indirect role in preparing me for my career by training me to understand complex topics quickly so I could intelligently engage in conversations around thorny political issues. These sets of skills have helped me to thrive in my current role, where in only a year at the company I have taken the lead in crafting policy solutions for the notoriously complex world of utility and energy policy, while also working on healthcare and tech industry issues.
My political science education played a key role in helping me excel in my early career and I’ve always happily provided a strong testimonial in favor of Marian University and its political science program. I regularly come across Marian political science alumni in my work, and I often find us to be leaders in our field. I hope that President Elsener and the Board of Trustees will decide against ending the program and will allow the next generation of students to benefit from the excellent political science education available at Marian University.

Lucas Brown (political science major, alum)

Marian University’s political science department has been incredibly impactful on my educational career; it has led me to where I am today and continues to impact to me. I am currently in my second year of law school at IU’s Maurer School of Law. My classes in political science helped me to develop the skills that are necessary to survive in law school and it gave me a level of background knowledge that helped me to adapt to law school.
Through my education in political science, I developed my ability to critically read and comprehend difficult, doctrinal, and theoretical papers. In law school, this skill is paramount because the law is taught through doctrine, policy, and case law. In the several constitutional law classes that I have taken, we spent a substantial amount of time learning about the doctrinal foundations of the constitution and its amendments. When I arrived at law school, I already had four years of practice in reading these kinds of papers, and I felt extremely comfortable doing this kind of reading. It has also made me confident in reading case law. Much of law school is reading cases and learning what the law is by how the judges applied it to certain situations. The arguments made and reasoning behind them are often complex. If I had entered into law school without the proficiency that I developed through my studies in political science, adapting to law school would have been infinitely more difficult than it already was.
In my political science courses, the curriculum was also centered around writing. Through this focus, my ability to write and research vastly improved. This is a particularly useful skill in law school. While writing in law school is stylistically different, many of the fundamental skills are the same. I believe that these fundamental writing skills that I learned through my study of political science helped me to better adapt to law school.
My favorite thing that I am a part of at Maurer is its Center for Constitutional Democracy. This is a journal where we are partnered with countries around the world that are in turmoil or that face extreme hardship. In the CCD, we do research and write recommendations to these countries on how they could alter their constitutions in a way which would better reflect their country’s culture and lead to a better, more stable country. This is a very exclusive journal, and I am positive that I got into the CCD because of my coursework at Marian University. My studies in politics game me a deeper cultural understanding of national and international affairs, and the roles that policy and constitutions can play within that framework. If my major had not been political science and my coursework had not been the same, I do not believe that I would have been accepted into the CCD and I would not have had the opportunity to contribute to this work that has a real life, substantial impact on the lives of individuals and the international system.
My four years at Marian University were some of the best years of my life. They have prepared me for where I am at now, and where I will be in the future. A major part of that is due to the Political Science Department. I hope that future students are able to study political science so that they can have the same opportunities and experiences that I have had because of the Political Science Department.
Thank you,
Lucas Brown
Marian University, Class of 2019

Isaiah Mizell (political science major, current student)

Hello, my name is Isaiah Mizell and I am currently a Senior Political Science major here at Marian University. I changed majors a few times during my time here at Marian, however, I ultimately landed at Political Science due to how great the program was. I really enjoyed the professors the program had, as well as the classes. I have always wanted to pursue a career in federal law enforcement. The classes offered here within the Political Science program have touched on these topics, and have helped to prepare me for a career in the federal government. I am currently in the hiring process for two Special Agent positions with the United States Secret Service and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations. With the Secret Service I have passed the entrance exam and moved on to the interview phase. If it were not for the Political Science program here, I may have not have been considered past the application stage for both agencies due to a lack of work experience in the field. Having talked with other federal agents in the past, Political Science has always been a degree of desire for these agencies. During my time here my Political Science classes such as Intro to Terrorism and Homeland Security, Intro to International Relations, and even Intro to American Politics have all made an impact on me, and my preparation for my career. Not only has this program expanded my knowledge, it has also given me the opportunity to learn new ideas, and understand differing view points from mine. It has given me a deeper appreciation for politics in general, and has shown me the importance of looking at multiple viewpoints. If it wasn’t for the Political Science program, my experience at Marian would not be the same. I would hate to see this program taken away, and I honestly believe that this university will be a much different place without the Political Science major.

Emma Harpring (political science major, alum)

As a freshman, I started out as a finance major. Having taken several of the general educational courses and being exposed to other areas of study, I quickly decided to add political science as a dual major. The issues and successes we face as a country are an omnipresent force regardless of profession. I knew studying political science would only deepen my understanding and knowledge of state, domestic, and global issues but with a more collective mindset. It prepared me for tough conversation that need to be had amongst us all to build a better future. Each and every professor in the political science department had a very rare quality to help build a guiding framework, often times revisiting topics numerous times to further our critical thinking skills, to weigh all sides, all through an observatory lens. This is unique to the political science field that is often lacking in other areas of study. Ethics and philosophy only go so far, but political science works to apply theory and logic. Removing the major would be a disservice to our guiding values at Marian University: responsible stewardship, peace and justice, reconciliation, and dignity of the individual. Each of these values are inherent to the political science major applied in the practice of law, governance, international relations, etc. To build future leaders, political science is crucial. I hope this testimony sheds a light on the numerous benefits I have gained as an individual and U.S. citizen, each existing in a larger, global community.

Katrina Ornelas (political science major, alum)

Hello, my name is Katrina Ornelas, 2019 graduate of Marian University and currently a 2L at Robert H. McKinney School of Law. Hearing of the recent news and proposal to eliminate Marian’s Political Science department is not only disheartening, but extremely concerning. Marian University is founded on principles of being a liberal arts college, a characteristic that was greatly appealing to me during my undergraduate selection process.
I can say, without a doubt, choosing Marian University was the best decision of my life thus far. The reasons for that are primarily my education. I majored in Political Science with a minor in Business. I owe it to each of the Political Science professors to tell my story and share why it is essential that Marian keeps the Political Science department as a part of the curriculum.
International relations, constitutional law, comparative politics, political theory, American politics, research methods, and more are THE reason I was able to be prepared for the analytical framework of law school. The Political Science professors guided the students through some of the most complex and abstract school courses. Not only did they constantly encourage dialogue, but they also dissected intricate theories and prospective lenses in viewing the perplexities of Political Science.
Political Science is all around us. There is no escaping politics. To have such a well-developed program, as Marian University does, makes it that much easier for students to discover more effective ways to use the broad discipline. A Political Science major is bound to learn about economics, sociology, psychology, communications, criminal justice, and leadership styles all through this major. The skills one acquires from this program includes oral and written communication, understanding research methodologies, critical thinking and logic, problem solving, insight into human behavior, as well as leadership characteristics.
With Marian’s location being in the heart of Indiana, the opportunities for Political Science majors are rich and diverse. Local, city, municipal, and state government are all at a student’s fingertips. There are various prospective career paths available to Political Science students. Many Political Science students go on to pursue law school and legal careers, myself included. I knew from before undergraduate studies that I ultimately wanted to go to law school. Having Robert H. McKinney School of Law just miles away from Marian’s campus made it extremely desirable to begin my networking connections in Indianapolis.
I continue to be grateful that Marian awarded me the 2020 IU McKinney-Marian University Law Scholar, but I am most appreciative for the Political Science department and professors who prepared me and taught me some of the most valuable life lessons that allowed me to be a candidate for such an honor. I again, owe it to the Political Science professors at Marian University to do as much as I can to endorse such a well-run department and to keep such an invaluable major alive. Without Political Science, students will be deprived of a multifaceted major. Without Political Science, students will lose a valuable opportunity to develop crucial communication, advocacy skills, critical thinking, and research skills – all of which are imperative to those who want to pursue careers in law, policy, trade, international studies, and so much more.
I have always possessed the desire to give back and show my deep appreciation to my alma mater and all the opportunities Marian has given me. However, if this proposal to get rid of the Political Science department is accepted, I unfortunately will find myself in a position to not give back or donate to Marian University. I hope it does not have to come to that. I want to give back to my Marian Women’s Soccer team. I want to donate to the new successful developments on campus. But I most importantly want to help fund the Political Science department, if given the chance. President Elsener, Provost Silva, and Marian University Board of Trustees, I must urge you to keep the Political Science department and allow students to use the Indianapolis community and plentiful opportunities to their advantage, and later pay it forward in their future endeavors.
Thank you for your time and I deeply hope you reconsider your position on this incredibly significant matter.

Alex Dickerson (political science major, alum)

I am a Marian Alumni, and an alumnus of the Political Science Department. I am writing to you today with disappointment. I have thoroughly enjoyed watching Marian grow and develop over the last several years. There is more student engagement, stronger community involvement, and a greater sense of self and growth than there has ever been in Marian’s history in my opinion.
However, that is now being overshadowed by a decision to eliminate the Political Science program from Marian University. As I look around in our country today, and talk to family, friends, listen to the news, I see a massive misunderstanding of what our democracy really is compared to what people think it is. Marian is a liberal arts school that is meant to develop the character of the student, not only to prepare them for work after school, but also to develop them into a caring, productive, and beneficial member of society.
Understanding our democracy, understanding the rules by which we live and govern together is needed now more than it has been in recent memory. Too many people think that Presidents can govern by executive orders, they completely misunderstand the point of the legislative branch, and believe the judicial branch is there to simply give them what they want when Congress doesn’t. Today people believe you’ve sold your soul if you simply work to reach a compromise with someone from a different political party, even if that compromise is in the best interests of them and their community. Too much is made of my way or the highway, and it’s hard to fathom but it seems as though Marian is following right in those footsteps.
I believe in the Political Science department because it has helped me to believe in our country, even now when everything seems so hostile and dark. It provides historical context and understanding of how our country was founded, and how we are still striving to make it better for everyone. We all know that when we started, our country was not meant for everyone to be treated equally. We were literally buying and selling people. Women weren’t allowed to vote, let alone own property or a business. We have made huge strides in our relatively short time as a country, but we still have massive strides yet to go.
Knowing how to make those changes and knowing that even an individual citizen can participate and help shape the future of their country is paramount to the Political Science department at Marian, and it is desperately needed in our country today. Those who wish it were better far too often don’t even know where to begin to have their voices heard. Marian should be developing and embracing their political science students to go out into the community and make it better. Help people engage in their government, help people understand how they can make a difference. The students should engage with our legislators to bring voices to those underserved in our communities.
It is easy to embrace programs that have high enrollment and bring in loads of tuition money for the University. I understand that, I was also an Economics major at Marian. But the goal shouldn’t be to ONLY embrace those programs, they should be utilized to help continue the smaller programs that will help shape better students, better people, and a stronger community in which Marian resides.
I hope you will reconsider your position on eliminating the Political Science program and instead allow it to continue and help it grow to the betterment of Marian, and our community.
Alex Dickerson
Marian College ‘08
Political Science

Mike Byers (political science major, alum)

I was shocked to hear that the administration at Marian is trying to eliminate the Political Science program. The Political Science program and faculty have had a direct and substantial impact on my career and life.
I had the pleasure of studying under Dr. Johnny Goldfinger during my time at Marian and he pushed me hard to succeed while ensuring that Marian’s Franciscan values accompanied that ambition. What I learned from the Marian Political Science faculty prepared me to be successful in graduate school at the University of Pittsburgh where the MPIA degree I achieved is ranked as a top ten program in the country.
I continue to use the lenses I was provided in my time studying Political Science to this day working as a Senior Consultant for Booz Allen Hamilton. The unique training I received, to provide insightful analysis anchored in Franciscan values, is what sets the Marian University Political Science program apart from other programs in the state and country, and continues to guide my success at a top government consulting firm with my clients in the federal government.
I urge the Marian University administration to reconsider eliminating the Political Science program. The removal of this program will undoubtedly be a detriment to our society during this extremely divisive time in American political institutions. We need more people in our space who are guided by Marian’s values to ensure these institutions work for the dignity of all people rather than prey upon them.
Very Respectfully,
Mike Byers
MU Class of 2013″

Matthew Duncan (political science major, alum)

My name is Matt Duncan and I wish to express my opposition to the administration’s proposal to eliminate the political science program at Marian. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts Degree in political science from Marian in 2014. My political science courses at Marian helped develop my critical thinking, analytical, research, and writing skills, all skills which prepared me well for law school and my career as an attorney. I also gained real world experience by interning for the Indiana Republican Party during my fall 2012 semester. While at Marian I held various leadership positions, including Freshman Class Treasurer, Sophomore Class President, and Vice President of Mission Effectiveness. After graduation, I served as a legislative intern for the Indiana State Senate and then attended law school at the IU Robert H. McKinney School of Law in Indianapolis, where I graduated in 2017. Since then, I have been a practicing attorney in Southern Indiana. A large part of my practice includes municipal law, which allows me to use the skills and knowledge I acquired as a political science major.
Attending Marian was the greatest decision I have ever made. I am glad that I have been able to give back to my alma mater in several ways since graduating, including making donations to the university, writing letters to prospective students, being interviewed by political science students for their papers and research projects, and giving guest lectures to senior political science seminars. I was therefore disheartened to hear of the recent proposal to eliminate the political science program and no longer offer political science as a major.
I believe the proposal is not in the best interest of the university for several reasons. First, more students major in political science than most other programs in the College of Arts and Sciences. With 31 majors, the program has grown considerably since I was a student. Second, Marian’s location in the capital city of Indianapolis offers political science majors incredible opportunities for internships, local and state government jobs, and the chance to get involved in campaigns. In addition, eliminating the program would diminish Marian’s core identity as a liberal arts institution. Marian’s political science majors are among its most distinguished alumni, with many becoming attorneys, political party leaders, top aides to Governors and other statewide officials, and business executives. A key part of Marian’s mission is developing transformational leaders in service to the world. I believe the political science program plays a key role in that mission by developing students into informed citizens and leaders. In a society dominated by a lack of civility and hyper partisanship, political science programs are more valuable than ever.
Eliminating the political science program would be a huge disservice to current and prospective students. Prospective students with an interest in politics will look past applying to Marian. I also predict prospective students with an interest in other social science fields will be less inclined to attend Marian for fear that their programs may be seen as dispensable and eliminated in the future. There does not appear to be a rational reason to eliminate a program that continues to boast more majors and more than financially pays for itself. A decision of such magnitude should not be made without consulting key stakeholders, including current political science majors and faculty.
Ending the political science program sends a message to myself and other political science alumni that our major does not matter and will undermine our connection to Marian. I say this as a proud alumnus that donates my time and treasure to Marian. If the administration and Board of Trustees follow through with their plans to eliminate the political science program, I will no longer donate or volunteer to Marian. I will also no longer promote Marian to potential students in my community. As someone who recently attended Marian Homecoming with my lifelong friends and classmates, I hope it does not come to this. I sincerely hope the administration rethinks its decision and allows future students the opportunity to receive a quality political science education at Marian.

Ian Gammon (political science major, alum)

My name is Ian Gammon and I am a second-year law student at IU Robert H. McKinney Law School here in Indianapolis, Indiana. I graduated summa cum laude from Marian University with a major in Political Science, minor in Global Studies, and as a captain of the 2019-20 Marian Men’s Soccer Team.
When I think of the Political Science major at Marian University, I think of how great my life is now. I think of this because of all the opportunities and skills I gained from being in the Political Science major. My political science classes were my most challenging classes, yet the classes I grew from the most. I have told my fellow legal colleagues countless times how my first year of law school felt similar to five political science classes. The reading, analyzing, and critical thinking in Political Science courses was never matched by any other courses I took at Marian.
Nor am I the only one who has benefitted from the political science major. I have five friends who were political science majors from my year and the year above who are in fantastic positions as myself because of the major. All six of us were student-athletes at Marian and are current law students at Ohio State University, IU Bloomington Mauer School of Law, IU McKinney School of Law, and Marquette University Law School. The pedigree of students that Marian University’s Political Science major produces could never be replaced if the major is taken away.

Michael Krueger (political science major, alum)

Michael Krueger In 2004 I was among the 2nd graduating class with a BA in Political Science at Marian. I went on to study law at Valparaiso University and have been a licensed attorney in California since 2009. I came into Marian a history major in 2000. The next year I learned just how much a poor kid from a small town in Indiana didn’t know about the world as I watched, in real time, the plane crash into the 2nd tower.
I learned more and grew more as a person in the following 2 and 1/2 years as a student of political science under Dr. Atlas, Dr. Haberski, Dr. Johnston and Dr. Mirolla. I helped establish the Dick Lugar Franciscan Center for Global Studies.
If I had not switched my major to political science I would not be able to do my current job. I am a partner at a law firm and specialize in business transactions. My political science degree helped me understand, to the benefit of my clients, the symbiotic relationship between government regulations and business transactions. It also helped me grasp the spirit of the law behind certain government programs such as Opportunity Zones. I am one of the top opportunity zone lawyers in the country and am a frequent contributor to Bloomberg, Motley Fool and other business publications.
I am who I am today because of Marian’s political science program. The young men and women coming in from poor, isolated, often “red” areas of Indiana need to learn how much of the world has been hidden from them. They need to learn how to see the world through the Franciscan Values and they need to have political science as an option for their degree.
It’s hard to believe that 20 years ago was the first time I met Dr. Atlas. Dr. Atlas’ Mid-East Politics class was a watershed moment for me. This was at the same time as 9-11. Poor, ignorant small town students like me had no idea how naïve and sheltered we were. I feel like the poli-sci program is the best representation of the Franciscan Values Marian has to offer kids like me.

Veda Keep (political science major, alum)

Veda Keep, Class of 2019. I started attending Marian University in August of 2015 as a nursing major, a career that I wanted my entire life. After failing out of nursing school, which seemed like the biggest failure of my lifetime, I had to quickly choose another major to get my degree in. I decided that I enjoyed government class in high school, so I chose to major in Political Science. What seemed to be the biggest letdown of my life ended up being the biggest blessing in disguise. I was extremely blessed to have had the most amazing professors in the Political Science department. They truly cared about each one of their students, and through the years became some of my biggest mentors. The Political Science department at Marian afforded me so many opportunities that I am certain I wouldn’t have had with another major, such as attending a conference held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York City. Deciding to major in Political Science was the best decision I have ever made in my life. Through the Political Science program, I learned so much about myself, other parts of the world, and what truly matters to me. Through this major, I found my true passion: public policy. After graduating with my Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, I have used the many skills I developed through the Political Science Department to start my career. Since graduating in May of 2019, I have interned at US Senator Mike Braun’s office, the Indiana Senate, worked as a Field Organizer on Governor Eric Holcomb’s 2020 campaign, and now serve as the Legislative and Policy Assistant at the Indiana Office of Attorney General. I am certain that none of these experiences would’ve been possible without my experience at Marian University studying Political Science.

Robert Hodge (political science major, alum)

My name is Robert Hodge. I am a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Tippecanoe County, an I.U. McKinney law graduate and a proud alumnus of the Political Science program at Marian University. It has been brought to my attention that Marian is currently considering eliminating its Political Science program. I was shocked to hear this news and I feel now that I have an obligation to share my experiences in the Poli. Sci. program and how those experiences shaped me into the person that I am today.
When I first arrived at Marian University, I had no idea what I wanted to major in. I struggled my first year to the point where I was kicked out of Marian University because of my grades. When I came back to Marian, the first class that I went to was POL102, Introduction to American Politics taught by Professor Goldfinger. After that first class, I knew that I wanted to pursue a major in Political Science. I loved learning about the Federalist Papers and the different ideologies that created the democracy that we live in today. I knew that I liked learning from Professor Goldfinger and that he was an amazing professor but at the time I had no idea that the Poli. Sci. program would give me access to two other great professors in Pierre Atlas and Holly Gastineau-Grimes. All three of these individuals have played a huge part in my life, more than they probably know, and I attribute a large amount of my current success to them.
Along with amazing professors, the Poli. Sci. program gave me the opportunity to travel to Washington D.C., something that I never thought I would get the chance to do. Professor Atlas did an amazing job planning the trip. I had the opportunity to speak with Congressmen and Congresswomen, Senators, J.A.G. officers in the Pentagon and so many other successful individuals who had majored in Political Science. Each of them shared with us their experiences and their keys to being successful, lessons that I remember and use to this day.
The Poli. Sci. program also gave me the opportunity to travel to Charlotte North Carolina and represent Egypt in Model United Nations. Professor Gastineau-Grimes had us preparing for weeks to accurately represent the interests of Egypt in the League of Arab States. We had to learn the politics of foreign nations so that we would know how to negotiate with those who were representing other nations in the league. We researched the problem that the Model U.N. sent to us and analyzed how we believed Egypt would respond to that problem. We learned how to draft resolutions and proposals and practiced speaking in public. All of these valuable skills that I learned I still use to this day when I prepare for hearings or a trial.
These experiences along with the Poli. Sci. classes that were taught by Professors Atlas, Goldfinger and Gastineau-Grimes are the reason that I am where I am today. I can say without a doubt that the Political Science program is the foundation that my current success is built on and I know that it can do for others what it has done for me. I pray that the president and Board of Trustees will make the right decision and vote to keep the program.

Kayla Wurst (Trambaugh) (political science major, alum)

Comment: My name is Kayla Wurst, formerly Trambaugh. I graduated from Marian University in 2019. I majored in Political Science and minored in Global Studies. I currently work for the United States Senate. After transferring from IUPUI and changing my major five times I found my niche in Marian’s Political Science program. I can clearly remember walking into Professor Grimes’ office on a whim after thinking I would never be able to settle on a major, and in turn would never receive a college degree. I had always had a slight interest in politics but never believed I would be able to comprehend the discipline. Looking back, I could not have been more wrong. Dr. Grimes set up a meeting and assured me if I put my mind to it and worked hard, I could excel in the program and even graduate on time. I’m glad I listened to her; had I not I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
During my time in the Political Science program I completed an Indiana Statehouse internship, a political campaign internship, two internships in the U.S. Senate, and received an honorable mention for debating in Model U.N. at the U.N. Headquarters in NYC. Without the support and instruction from Dr. Grimes, Dr. Atlas, and Dr. Goldfinger I would not have had the skills necessary to succeed in these internships, or in my profession today. Each professor had a unique teaching style and used real world examples, all while highlighting the Franciscan Values. The Political Science classes were the most challenging of my course load and for that I am grateful. This program demanded hard work, time, and effort. Students who have graduated with a Political Science degree from Marian have gone on to be incredibly successful in their careers. Canceling this program would be a great disservice to the University, future students, and the values that Marian prides itself on.