I am currently working as an English teacher in a primary school in Madrid, Spain. I also work with a volunteer organization based in Madrid focused on helping political refugees arriving in Spain with housing, employment, and other services.
After graduating from Linfield, I spent the summer working for a public policy opinion research firm (DHM Research) in Portland. That fall, I moved to Spain and spent the year teaching English to primary and secondary students in the town of Cáceres, a place known for very friendly people, an incredibly preserved medieval old town, and the best Iberian ham on the peninsula. Last summer, I took off on a three month backpacking trip around Eastern Europe, my last four weeks of which I spent volunteering at a guesthouse in the mountains of northern Albania, making GPS maps of hiking trails and learning about traditional Albanian goat roasting.
I am exploring various non-English teaching opportunities for next year, including NGO work in Latin America through the Princeton in Latin America program and refugee-related work in Madrid or the U.S. I plan to begin a master's in international affairs in 2017 and pursue a career in international service or development.
What I gained most from my political science classes at Linfield is an ability to think broadly and critically about complex issues. Nick Buccola's Great Political Thinkers course completely turned upside down my views on political systems. Dawn Nowacki's comparative politics readings made me question American conceptions of secularism. Pat Cottrell's guidance on my senior thesis forced me to analyze high level theory on NGO activism. While most of my work now does not revolve around such deep academic issues, the analytical thinking skills I developed at Linfield help me plan my English lessons, strategize with my colleagues in the refugee organization, and generally pursue an interesting and enjoyable life.
I am currently in my first year of a Master in Public Policy program at UC Berkeley. Although it’s intense, this program has been terrific so far. It’s especially exciting to be back in school with people who have so many interesting backgrounds and life aspirations. There’s always exciting things going on too - the Colombian Ambassador to the U.S. just stopped by campus today, for example.
I’m also really starting to realize how much the Political Science department helped prepare me for post-Linfield life. I’m particularly grateful for the department’s focus on teaching us how to research and write well. Policy school is all about writing clearly, succinctly and in an active voice - which are all skills that I developed in my Political Science classes. But the department’s support goes beyond academics. Pat Cottrell in particular has been incredibly supportive since I graduated in helping me think about my personal and professional goals (and writing countless recommendation letters). I honestly think it’s this kind of long-term support that sets Linfield and the Political Science department apart.
Before coming to Berkeley I served as an AmeriCorps member at a refugee resettlement agency, taught English in Germany on a Fulbright scholarship, and conducted research on immigrant integration policy at a research institute in Germany with a fellowship from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). After graduating with an MPP, I plan to work in the nonprofit policy advocacy world, and hope to bring about changes to immigrant and refugee policy both nationally and internationally.
Morgan Christiansen, 2013
About a year after graduating from Linfield I served as an AmeriCorps volunteer with Lutheran Community Services Northwest (LCSNW), a non-profit human services agency that serves communities throughout Oregon, Washington, and Idaho. I worked in the Vancouver office's refugee reception and placement program as the employment specialist. My role was to help newly arrived refugees prepare for the American workforce by providing direct career skills training and finding employment. After my ten and a half month service the agency hired me on to work in the refugee resettlement program in Tacoma, WA. I moved to Tacoma in August 2015 and started work as the 'Housing Specialist & Family Mentor Coordinator'. It is my responsibility to find housing for newly arriving refugees as well as coordinate our volunteer program. My goal is to one day work for one of the nine national resettlement agencies and oversee the distribution of refugee cases to affiliate offices across the country.
My advice to current students is to take full advantage of the opportunities the Political Science Department has to offer. I would not be where I am today if I had not pursued the experiences I did throughout my four years at Linfield. I discovered my interest in refugee studies on a Jan term travel course to Vietnam and Thailand with Pat my sophomore year. As a result of that trip I collaborated with Pat to form a five student research team and apply for a research grant that took us back to Thailand to further study the region's refugee crisis. I wrote my senior thesis on the international governance of refugees, and now I work with refugees on a daily basis.
I am so grateful to Dawn, Nick, and Pat for all of their support and encouragement during my time at Linfield and after. They are all truly invaluable resources and lifelong mentors.