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Why I Majored in Politics

Jesus Muñoz ’20

Thinking about politics is confusing, so to even imagine studying politics was unthinkable for me before coming to college. But now I realize that studying politics at Pomona College has been a very wise choice. One of the most important things I’ve learned here is to think more responsibly about the political problems in our society. This is very useful when thinking about contemporary politics, especially in times of confusion and uncertainty.

In our Politics Department, we seek to understand what’s behind the veil of politics with a perspective that both historical and philosophical but also practical. We read old books about political philosophy and also study the problems affecting our society. Take my classical political theory class as an example: when reading Plato’s philosophy, we also talked about the current events in politics. Our professor made us reflect about the importance of the classical works of political philosophy, and that’s the best civic education I’ve received in my time in college. That’s the spirit of the professors in our politics department: to teach students a meaningful civic education. Coming from the working class, it’s very empowering to study the foundations of our society; I can now say that I have a voice in the political life of this nation. Finally, I’d say that I am majoring in politics because it’s encouraging to know that my studies can have a profound impact in my community.

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.