Meet Our Alumni

The Political Science Department has many outstanding alumni.

Legal Field

Matthew Baisley (BA in Political Science) is Senior Associate Attorney in Baker Hostetler’s Data Privacy Litigation group in Denver Colorado

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Urban Politics

What was the most useful class you took?

Urban Politics. Dr. Kropf was my favorite professor. I took all or nearly all of her classes. I think that was useful in its own way – she was brilliant, inspiring, and I unwittingly got the opportunity as a young person to develop a certain kind of productive relationship with someone I really admired. For example, she wrote me an excellent recommendation when I applied for law school.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

I would tell any student to choose their subjects consciously, and to pursue them with passion and curiosity (and if that seems like an utter chore, I would encourage them to consider another subject). I would also encourage students to invest in the people around them as much or more as they do their classes. Professors give counsel, recommendations, and focus; classmates become colleagues, competitors, customers, and clients (and even bosses); and sometimes friends made while you’re figuring it all out last a lifetime.


Emalea Black (BA in Political Science) is Assistant City Attorney, assigned to the Neighborhood Improvement Unit

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Dr. Lyne’s Comparative Politics Seminar

What was the most useful class you took?

I learned the most useful information in Intro to Comparative; I still hear myself say things I learned in that class. But my capstone seminars and doing research for Dr. Beth Vonnahme showed me how to develop a substantial work product from a blank page and how to be accountable for my work.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Poli Sci is such a broad field; take the opportunities to explore different career options while you’re still in school. Be willing to jump whole-heartedly in one direction, then admit it’s not quite right and try again. (I tried on national politics, local politics, academia, criminal law, small town general practice, international human rights law in Geneva, and a boutique firm before finding the right fit).


Thomas Bryant (BA in Political Science) is Co-Owner/Attorney in The Bryant Law Firm

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Constitutional Law with Dr. Atkinson

What was the most useful class you took?

Political Research and Analysis with Dr. Martha Kropf

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

At a time when many believe politics are simply too divisive to discuss it is utterly important that there are people focused on researching, studying, conversing and gathering a better understanding of our current political system.


Jon Dedon (BA in Political Science) is an Attorney at Kennyhertz Perry, LLC

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Constitutional Law with Dr. Atkinson

What was the most useful class you took?

Constitutional Law with Dr. Atkinson. It was very similar in structure and rigor to the Constitutional Law class I took in law school—really prepared me well.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Be social and go out of your way to get to know your classmates. In the long run, the friends you make are at least as important as the degree you earn.


William Diels (BA in Political Science) is Legal Counsel at the Missouri Department of Social Services, Division of Legal Services, Litigation Unit

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

It would be a toss-up between any of Prof. Skidmore’s classes, due to his wealth of knowledge and insight into both ideology and presidential politics, and the capstone course. However, I would give the edge to the capstone course as it is the culmination of your studies and gives you the opportunity to dive headfirst into an area you are most interested. While a thesis can at first glance appear to be a daunting task, if you choose a topic that interests you it becomes an opportunity to fully immerse yourself. The process then becomes much more enjoyable as you become an expert in that topic without realizing it.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

As hard as it may seem, try to set aside any preconceived beliefs or ideological affiliations you may have and engage the course material with an open mind. The prescribed program of study allows you to get a well-rounded education in many aspects of the political process. If it is undertaken with an open mind, you will be shocked at the growth and development of your own belief systems.


Natalie Frank (BA in Political Science) is an Associate Attorney at Ricket Law Firm, LLC

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Advanced Comparative Politics with Dr. Lyne — the discussions were fun and interesting!

What was the most useful class you took?

My Speech 100 course; I do a lot of speaking in courtrooms in front of judges, and as an attorney, you are given quite a bit of credibility if you are effectively and competently able to speak on the record without reciting from a piece of paper in front of you. I learned the foundation of a lot of my current courtroom speaking skills from the speech course I took as an undergraduate.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Make friends with the faculty. They are extremely knowledgeable in their specialty areas, and they want you to succeed. When I was struggling to decide what my next steps after graduation would be, Drs. Beth Vonnahme and Lyne helped me figure out what options were best for me. They also helped me get into law school by writing letters of recommendation on my behalf. The faculty can be pretty fun to chat with from time to time as well!


Madison Roberts (BA in Political Science, 2013) is an Associate Attorney at Davis, Polk & Wardwell in New York, New York

Madison Roberts Political Science Alumni

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Seminar in Comparative Politics

What was the most useful class you took?

Senior Seminar

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Try to find opportunities outside of class to explore the various fields occupied by political science majors. It is a vast array, more so than other majors, and can be overwhelming. Figuring out what you do and don’t like can help guide your studies and class choices.

Academic Pursuits

Bryce Dietrich (BA in Political Science) is a Research Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School and Assistant Professor at the University of Iowa

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

It is difficult to say what my favorite class was, so I will say the most rewarding grade I received was in (the late) Dr. David Atkinson’s Constitutional Law class. It was extremely challenging and only two people got A’s. So, I worked extremely hard in that class to get an A which made me very proud after the fact.

What was the most useful class you took?

My most useful class was probably Dr. Kropf’s research methods class. As I am now a political methodologist, her class was my first exposure to statistics so I would not have caught the computer/stats bug without her class.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

If you work hard, you can do anything you want to do. My mother was a single parent so when UMKC offered me a scholarship to attend and debate she was almost instantly in tears. The success I had at UMKC and the other institutions I have been fortunate to work at is largely because of her sacrifices. She worked incredibly hard to make our lives better. I try to show the same dedication to my colleagues and students.


Lisa Green (BA in Political Science) is attending Malmö University in Sweden pursuing a Master’s degree in International Migration & Ethnic Relations

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Intro to Comparatives Politics

What was the most useful class you took?

Internship – I had to find and setup my own internship in the KC area which helped me gain real work experience and grow my network.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Complete an internship, study abroad, and grow your network outside of academia! Each of these experiences has helped me in one way or another in furthering my career and clarifying what I wanted to do after graduation.

Governmental/Non-Governmental Organizations

Malick Ba (BA in Political Science) International Affairs Consultant

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

My favorite course was American Foreign Policy (Pol-Sci 336, if I remember). The course allowed me to acquire a good understanding of the history of U.S. Foreign Policy and the dynamics shaping how the country interacts with other nations and international institutions. The course also allowed me to truly develop my analytical skills by applying analytical frameworks and theories in various historical contexts to understand the underlying issues and decision-making behind major U.S. Foreign Policy landmarks across various administrations.

What was the most useful class you took?

Foundations of Logic (Philosophy 222) was one of the most useful courses I took at UMKC. This course had great returns both in classroom and life in general as it allowed me to make better and more logically sound arguments. As a result, I was in a better position to spot fallacies in arguments and build more solid arguments. I think this is a class every Political Science major should take to strengthen their persuasive skills.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Clearly define your career goals by writing them down and make a clear and concise plan that will get you there. Your plans may change (as they necessarily will) but the most important part is you defining your goals and setting out to accomplish it. I would also say to use the campus resources available, particularly the Career Services, to ensure you are on the right academic and professional track.


Lauren Gepford (BA in Political Science) Executive Director, Missouri Democratic Party

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Campaigns and Elections

What was the most useful class you took?

Public Opinion and Voting Behavior

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Build relationships with your professors and work hard.


Patrick Klein (BA in Political Science) Project Engineer for the US Army Corps of Engineers

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

My favorite class at UMKC was Foundations of Philosophy, taught by Dr. James Sheppard.

What was the most useful class you took?

Again, foundations of Philosophy. That class set the path for the rest of my life in many different ways.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Put in the work. The harder you work, the more opportunities will be available to you in the future.


Sahra Nur (BA in Political Science, 2009) Portfolio Analyst Consultant at the World Bank

Sahra Nur Political Science Alumni

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Parties and Interest Groups

What was the most useful class you took?

Math

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

To double major in political science and economics


Matthew Rhoades (MA in Political Science, 2008) was the Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Security Council

Matthew Rhoades Political Science Alumni

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

International Relations Theory

What was the most useful class you took?

IR theory was really useful for identifying and summarizing the worldviews of our political leaders.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Read everything you are assigned; you never know which piece of information will come in handy at an important moment in the future.


Bethany Woodson (BA in Political Science) is attending graduate school at Marquette University and a Transition Specialist with the International Institute of Wisconsin

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

It is difficult for me to choose a favorite UMKC class; I really enjoyed the entire labor series taught by Dr. Judy Ancel, I think I took essentially all of them.

What was the most useful class you took?

I was lucky enough to take a graduate seminar in International Relations during my time at UMKC and this experience was definitely beneficial to be both personally and professionally. This introduction into graduate level Political Science prepared me for my current program and helped me expand my Political Science-related interests.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Take advantage of the resources you have available to you! Get to know your professors, build relationships, for networking, but also because you never know how or when you’re going to discover a new passion. I think it’s easy to have this idea of life and career paths as linear but you’ll probably take some detours, enjoy them, embrace them, these things help you learn and develop.

Business

Parker Webb (BA in Political Science) is President and Founder of Third Space Property Group (3SPG)

What was your favorite class at UMKC?

Seminar in Comparative Politics

What was the most useful class you took?

Seminar in Comparative Politics probably affected me most in terms of how I view the world. The Real Estate investment and finance courses I took in the Bloch school are the most relevant to my current work in terms of developing the skill sets and knowledge base required to execute my roll on a day-to-day basis.

What one piece of advice would you give current or prospective students?

Don’t be a jerk. Political Science majors are an opinionated group with strong feelings and beliefs about politics and political issues. Some of the best learning I had as a Poli Sci major was when I would let my guard down, check my ego, and just listen to others perspectives and the logic behind their arguments. I always firmly reserve the right to be wrong and to change my mind when new information or better arguments come to light. I think this is important both in academia and in the “real world.”