Why I Majored in Politics

Jacinta Chen ’21

I chose to major in politics because I have always been fascinated by the rise and fall of states, organizations and individual actors. At Pomona, my world view has been expanded by politics professors who have challenged me to think about power dynamics in a new light, as well as by my classmates who have provided me with unique perspectives. During my first politics course, I learned how to craft memos and track current events from Professor Mietek Boduszyński, a former member of the Foreign Service, as well as how to use theoretical frameworks to enhance my understanding of U.S. foreign policy. 

The Politics Department encourages students to engage in the quintessential liberal arts experience, requiring majors to take at least one course in each subfield and a total of nine courses in the realm of politics. With the freedom to explore Pomona's curriculum, I have found clear connections between my coursework in politics to other academic disciplines, including history, geology, psychology, dance and economics. 

Meanwhile, the skills that I have honed in my politics courses have transferred seamlessly to opportunities outside of the classroom. Professor Susan McWilliams Barndt, Professor Heidi Haddad, Professor Mietek Boduszyński and Professor David Menefee-Libey have each taught me how to write in a more clear and concise manner, preparing me for endeavors in research, on-campus leadership positions and internships.

Michaela Shelton ’21

The primary reason why I decided to become a politics major was so I could study political theories that influence our understandings of race, class and gender and apply those theoretical tools to analyze post-liberation conflicts across the African Diaspora with a particular focus on the United States. Prior to coming to college, my knowledge of political theorists who belonged to the African Diaspora was nonexistent. In my Marxism and Post-Marxism class with Professor Maryam Soliman at Scripps, I learned about the Black radical tradition, which challenges systemic racism and prioritizes the liberation of African peoples, and engaged with the writings of Angela Davis, Claudia Jones, Kimberle Crenshaw and the Combahee River Collective. This was the first time I saw myself represented within the academic discourse on race, class and gender. In my eyes, the writings of these Black feminists held as much weight as the writings of Jefferson, Aristotle, Tocqueville, etc. in politics.

My ID1 class, “Running for Office” with Professor Amanda Hollis-Brusky, also played a transformative role in what I thought the Politics Department at Pomona could offer me. We read several political memoirs and watched documentaries that provided insights into why candidates run for office. I particularly resonated with Shirley Chisholm’s memoir Unbossed and Unbought because she came from a poor working-class family in New York City and envisioned a future where African Americans are completely integrated into the social, political and economic facets of American society. I realized the Politics Department could teach me the powerful stories that inspired sweeping waves of progressive action in the past and give me the tools to do the same for my generation. I aspire to use the wisdom of those before me in order to push for a society that lives up to the expectations set by The Declaration of Independence and addresses the needs of its most vulnerable populations.

Kelsey Braford ’22

When I came to Pomona as a freshman I knew that I was interested in this discipline, but I wasn’t sure it was for me. However, once I got my feet wet in by taking a few classes, I fell in love with the politics department not only because of the subject matter, but because of how passionate the faculty are and the many seminars, panels and discussions that allow students to apply what they are learning.

Ryan Collins ’22

I majored in politics because of the interesting courses offered, and the flexibility offered in the major. I've had the opportunity to delve deeply into the intersection of race and politics which has been amazing and eye-opening.