Political Science

Skip Sub Menu

Our Alumni Network

Students who majored in a Political Science department program at Drake go on to a wide range of careers in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Here you can read about several of them at various stages in their lives post-Drake.

Emily Grimm, 2015

Major in Politics

As someone who had aspirations to live and work in Washington, DC, Drake University was the perfect place to get me there.


Not only is Drake located in the heart of downtown Des Moines just a few minutes away from local politics at the Iowa State Capitol, but the University serves as the epicenter for national election activity. Leading congressional candidates and presidential hopefuls come to Des Moines, and Drake specifically, to interact with and hire students. Before my four years concluded, I worked a nationally televised presidential debate, volunteered on a U.S. Senate campaign, interned for my hometown Congressman on Capitol Hill, and so much more. 


Following graduation, I joined a local firm driving key issues around the 2016 Iowa Caucus and the state’s legislative session. Later, I moved to Washington, DC to continue my career in issue advocacy and have since cultivated a career at LSG, an impact agency that partners with clients to grow, evolve, and protect their brands and reputations. At LSG, I specifically oversee federal, state and local policy and communications engagements for Fortune 100 companies, trade associations, and non-profits. 


I owe much of my personal and professional success to the countless opportunities available at Drake. My professors also served as trusted advisors, and to this day, continue to be my vital mentors. While my Drake story is filled with noteworthy experiences, the wonderful reality is that almost every student who walks through the College of Arts and Sciences’ halls has their own unique moments that shaped their career in politics. Go Bulldogs!

John Hirl, 2020

Major in Politics

As a Politics major, I benefitted from Drake's comprehensive approach to the study of political science. I was challenged to analyze politics from every angle and each major subfield of study, which gave me a deep understanding and appreciation for the discipline. Outside the classroom, Des Moines' status as a major hub of American politics gave me opportunities to supplement my studies with hands-on experience at the state and federal level. I worked at the Iowa State Capitol, organized for a statewide political campaign, and interned in the U.S. Senate in Washington, DC during my time at Drake. After graduating, I took a position in the state executive branch and, eventually, at a public affairs law firm representing clients in front of state lawmakers. None of this would have been possible without support from Drake's faculty and the ample chances to build upon my education with real-world experiences available in Des Moines.

But beyond the classroom experience and job opportunities available in Des Moines, Drake's greatest asset truly is its people. My professors genuinely cared about me and invested in my success. My classmates became lifelong friends, and I loved every day as a Drake student. The foundation Drake gave me, from the rigorous academic inquiry to the valuable real-world work experience, was a stepping stone to Harvard Law School. As I find myself back in the classroom at Harvard Law, I am thankful for my Drake education and proud to be a Bulldog.

Owen McMullen, 2009

Major in Politics

I graduated from Drake in 2009 as a Politics and History double major and took advantage of Drake’s Teach in China Program to teach English in Guilin, China. Living and working with fellow Drake grads in China was a great experience and encouraged me apply to the Peace Corps to continue my life of teaching abroad.

I served as a Peace Corp Volunteer first in Turkmenistan and later in Kazakhstan. With Peace Corps Kazakhstan’s program abruptly shut down in late 2011, I found work in neighboring Kyrgyzstan where I spent a year working with the Eurasia Foundation of Central Asia teaching Legal English at the Kyrgyz State Law Academy in Bishkek. I wrapped up my first stint in the former-Soviet states in Odesa, Ukraine, teaching English and exploring Eastern Europe. 

I enjoyed my years of English teaching, but missed the subject areas close to my heart which I had studied at Drake. I returned to America for graduate school at Washington State University and in 2015, received a Master in Teaching and again set off overseas, this time as a high school social studies teacher at Khartoum American School in Sudan. After four years of adventures in Africa, my wife and I moved to Tbilisi, Georgia. I have been teaching history, politics, and economics at QSI International School of Tbilisi ever since.

My experience at Drake not only gave me incredible content knowledge and skills to be successful in my current profession, but Drake’s alumni network has helped and supported me at unexpected times and places throughout my years overseas. Drake grads really are everywhere, so take advantage!


Courtney Rickert McCaffrey, 2004

Majors in both Politics and IR (minors in Economics and Spanish)

After her graduation from Drake, Courtney received an MA in 2008 in International Relations and International Economics from The Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

She currently works at Ernst and Young in their Global Geostrategic Business Group, where she provides market-leading insight around geopolitics, corporate performance and political risk management. Previously she worked at A.T. Kearney as an Associate in their Global Business Policy Council, an applied think tank that produces thought leadership on global trends as they relate to the business environment.

Of her Drake education, Courtney says: I appreciate the high quality of the education that I received at Drake and all of the great people that I met while I was a student there. In particular, I was able to really get to know my professors and they were able to get to know me as well, providing the basis for valuable relationships that have lasted long past graduation. In addition, Drake's attention to teaching practical knowledge and skills that translate well into a professional setting, rather than focusing exclusively on a more theoretical understanding of concepts, has helped me immensely in my career."

Jill Morehead, 2000

Major in International Relations

After graduating from Drake, Jill received an M.A. in Sustainable Development from the school for International Training.‌

She currently works for Mercy Corps as Team Leader for a Strategic Responses and Global Emergencies Team.  Previously, she served in the Peace Corps and has worked for The Services Corps, Crisis Corps, AmeriCares, and the United Nations Development Program.  Her work has taken her to disaster and crisis areas around the world.

Of her Drake education, Jill says: "Studying International Relations at Drake University set me up for a successful international career from the start. I focused on Latin American history and politics and then volunteered for Peace Corps in Nicaragua and Crisis Corps four years later in El Salvador. I also met my best friend at Drake nearly 20 years ago; some of the best experiences of my life happened at Drake."

Samantha Thomas, 2011

Major in International Relations

Samantha L. Thomas is the Founder and Executive Director of Global Arts Therapy, an international nonprofit organization that is committed to embracing creativity for sustainable innovation. In 2019 Ms. Thomas was the recipient of 3 awards from Sigma Xi and the American Association for the Advancement of Science for her leadership in interdisciplinary scientific innovation and communication. In 2020 Ms. Thomas received a dual master’s degree in the fields of applied science and global public health from Johns Hopkins University. With a passion for interdisciplinary research, Ms. Thomas incorporates a variety of scientific principles and practices in her projects that reduce poverty and inequality in public health.

Young Alum Career Panels

Our February 18, 2021 career panel featured Drake grads Lauren Goetze, 2019; Kate Kemper, 2017; Dr. Sheng Peng, 2011; and Daniel Van Sant, JD, 2011.

Our March 9, 2021 career panel featured Drake grads Jay Benson, 2010; Cherri Cathi, 2013; Emma Muth, 2019; and Manisha Paudel, 2009.

A&S News
A&S Calendar