Student view:

Hannah Jones: Social Science Scholar

Dec. 7, 2016

Hannah Jones is a junior from Bel Air, Maryland who is majoring in political science and criminal justice with a minor in leadership of organizations in the College of Social Science. She is a member of the Social Science Scholars Program, a specialized and prestigious program that includes a curriculum of seminars, research projects, off-campus study and overseas study, internships and a mentor relationship. She is a resident assistant within North Neighborhood, volunteers for the University Activities Board and serves as an undergraduate learning assistant for the Department of Political Science.

My membership as a Social Science Scholar has been vital to the success of my undergraduate career. The program has provided a multitude of opportunities outside of the classroom, including research, study abroad, community networking and internships.

During the past year and a half, I have worked under the guidance of John Waller, associate professor of history, and Matthew Grossmann, director of the Institute for Public Policy and Social Research, to complete an original research project titled “The American Paradox: Why Do People Go Against Their Best Financial Interests?” This paper looks at public opinion regarding tax policy and discusses why people of different income percentiles and party affiliations express opinions that conflict with what we might perceive to be in their financial interests. The chapter will eventually be published in The Social Science Scholars Research annual book.

Hannah Jones standing under a British flagIn the summer of 2016, I attended the Social Science Scholars five-week freshman study abroad in the United Kingdom. My cohort and I traveled to London, Eyam, Manchester, Liverpool, the Lake District and Oxford as we continued on our yearlong academic theme of “Humans and their Environment.” Not only did this trip allow me to continue my in-class education and apply the teachings to the real world, but also allowed me to continue my research, experience another culture and develop stronger relationships with my fellow scholars.

Additionally, the program has encouraged me to connect with both members of the community and professionals in my desired field. The scholar-mentor feature of the program connected me with my personal mentor, Nell Kuhnmuench. She was the chief of staff to the speaker of the Michigan House of Representatives, a former lobbyist and the current president of the East Lansing School Board. She has graciously taken the time to not only develop a relationship with me, but also introduce me to government and legal professionals in the field.

Next semester, I will be interning for Shanna Draheim at the Michigan Municipal League. While I have not yet begun this internship, I believe that this position will draw on my previous experience in serving in local government, specifically from my position as student member to the Harford County Board of Education. I look forward to working with the Michigan Municipal League and gaining a greater understanding of the different facets of a successful municipality.

My future internships will not only make my applications to graduate or professional schools unique, but will provide me with a greater understanding of government. While my current internship is working on a local-level, I believe that it is important to gain knowledge of the inter-workings of all levels of government in order to work in politics. No man (or part of government) is an island: each section impacts another in some way. Understanding the individual sections is vital to the success of the nation as a whole and is, therefore, important for anyone interested in working in politics, including myself, to understand.

I look forward to my last semester of seminars and welcoming and mentoring future scholars through this incredible academic journey.