Political Science Alumni
Political Science Alumni

Political Science Alumni

Jerry ClarkMy mother attended Mars Hill until 1983 and remains in contact with many of her fellow Lions which encouraged me to learn more about this beautiful college town in western North Carolina. Returning to University after sitting a few years out was both exciting and nerve-wracking. However, my experience at Mars Hill was truly life-changing after meeting Dr. Hawn and Dr. Rose. Originally I planned on studying economics, but with further experience as a campaign specialist, I decided to finish my degree with a concentration in Political Science.

Not only did I meet many students with a common interest in domestic and geopolitical issues, but also gained an insightful understanding of the many career pathways I would be able to pursue post-graduation. I am currently working at the City of Gastonia as a Case Manager in the Community and Housing Development Department. We provide housing counseling assistance to income-eligible residents looking to purchase their first home, offer rental/utility assistance, and act as project managers for Housing and Urban Development (HUD) funds to build low-income-based housing or homeless shelters via the McKinney –Vento Homeless Assistance Act.

Throughout my time within the Political Science Department, Dr. Rose taught me a thorough understanding of the local, state, and federal government apparatus and how at times it can make the implementation of policies difficult. The passionate and open-minded discussions led by Dr. Hawn, not only instilled in me more confidence to have conversations about current events with those of differing opinions but also taught me the overall importance of logically meeting people where they are no matter where you find yourself in life.

–Jerry Clark ’20

I graduated from Mars Hill in May of 2020, with a major in International Studies and a Minor in Spanish. Ultimately, what led me to MHU was athletics, and in my time at MHU, I was a member of the Cross Country, Track and Field, and Cheerleading teams. However, I soon came to realize that if I wanted to attend and be prepared for law school upon graduation, I needed to align myself with the best department on campus. While I was not technically a Political Science major, the International Studies program overlaps significantly and I found myself in many of Dr. Hawn’s classes.

I am currently in my first year of law school at the Louisiana State University Law Center.

My involvement in the Political Science/International Studies programs was a significant benefiting factor in my admission to a top 100 law school. By being taught using the Socratic method, I was fully prepared for the way law school classes are run. In addition, the LSAT prep course taught by Dr. Heather Hawn was extremely helpful and provided me with invaluable study tools and tips that helped me achieve a score high enough to gain acceptances to many well-renowned law schools. I developed my writing, research, and analytical thinking skills tremendously through my Political Science and International Studies classes, which in turn has enabled me to succeed in my law school classes.

Dr. Hawn is truly brilliant and has challenged me in classes, discussions, and assignments. In addition, Dr. Hawn was incredibly helpful and available in answering my many questions, reviewing my personal statement, and writing letters of recommendation when I was navigating the law school admissions process.

I cannot say enough good things about the Mars Hill Political Science program. If you intend to apply to law school, the most important first-step you should take is to join the Political Science program.

–Sydney Britt ’20, LSU Law Center

Attending Mars Hill University and being a part of the political science family, is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. The Political Science Department prepared me for the work I am doing today and future endeavors. Dr. Heather Hawn and Dr. Johnathan Rose taught me more than any textbook could. They taught me how to be culturally conscious in every situation and to be open to other’s beliefs but never let someone overrule my voice. Additionally, how to go with my intuition if something doesn’t feel right and not be afraid to act on it. Standing up against injustices will take dedication and courage, but will never be something to regret.

I have just entered my second term as an AmeriCorps VISTA with NC Campus Compact as my sponsoring organization. AmeriCorps is under the Corporation for Community Service; just as the Military or Peace Corps, I am in-service to our country. I am continuing with the same host-site at the University of North Carolina Asheville, building capacity on the administrative side to increase academic achievement at Marvelous Math Club (MMC), an afterschool math engagement at Pisgah View Apartments. Asheville is ranked as 5th in the nation for the highest racial academic achievement gap, meaning that on average white students are performing higher than students of color, especially in math. MMC supports in creating opportunities for Asheville City Schools (ACS) students of color to build math confidence, leadership skills and relationships within the community. Everything that MMC does is set through an racial equity lens, while using asset-based + justice thinking and practices.

I do not have set plans for my career after my second term with AmeriCorps ends. However, I do want to continue in education; not to retrofit or “add to” existing systems, but support in building approaches for educational transformation, equity and justice in the United States. While emphasizing social and emotional learning in classrooms, and instead of changing students to fit a “cookie cutter” approach, the system itself can be transformed. Just as I experienced from my political science professors and colleagues, I believe revolutionary love is essential in educational settings. The Political Science Department at Mars Hill University will accept you for who you are and where you are. This family will offer opportunities in finding a purpose and passion(s) through unconditional love. Please consider declaring a major in political science!

–Makenzie Bennett ’19

Jordon EdwardsJordon Edwards graduated in May 2018 with a degree in Political Science. She was selected as the program’s “Outstanding Graduate” that year as well. While at Mars Hill, Jordon helped the Mars Hill University College Republicans get off the ground as well as worked as a tutor, participated in Student Government, and served as a member of Delta Zeta. While still a student she served as a Republican House Caucus Intern, an Intern with Governor Pat McCrory Western Region Director, and was the first MHU student to be selected for the prestigious Legislative Internship Program at NC State where she worked as a legislative intern for Senator Chuck Edwards and worked with constituents to solve policy and legal issues as they related to Henderson, Buncombe, and Transylvania counties. She also coordinated different information packets as it related to the Senator’s committee assignment, wrote grant applications, and maintained constituent contact as a liaison between them and the Senator.

Since graduation, Jordon has served in several non-profits such as the Sparta Revitalization Committee, the Alleghany County Chamber of Commerce, and the Alleghany Education Foundation with the Alleghany High School. She credits the Political Science program in providing her a solid understanding of the collaboration between government and the private sector and giving her the self-confidence to pursue so many wonderful opportunities to serve her community. Jordon is planning on attending law school in the fall of 2021.

–Jordon Edwards ’18

Maria CastroI am currently working as a Field Organizer for the North Carolina Democratic Party’s Coordinated Campaign. We are working to ensure voters in North Carolina are registered to vote, have an opportunity to learn about our Democratic candidates, and have a plan to cast their vote this election cycle.

I plan on working in the political field to gain more experience before pursuing an MA in Environmental Policy. Afterwards, I would like to work directly to write as well as influence policy at the state or federal level and run for political office. My long term goal is to one day work for the US Department of the Interior.

Throughout my time in the Political Science department at MHU, I developed my passion for politics and discovered unique opportunities to further my career prospects. I gained two incredible mentors who encouraged me to take risks that undoubtedly helped me succeed in my job prospects. I had the opportunity to live in Raleigh for a semester, working as a Legislative Intern at the North Carolina General Assembly. I built upon my communication and debating skills throughout Model United Nations course and I became involved in College Democrats and Pi Sigma Alpha. Many of the courses I took helped shape what I am now passionate about including public policy and the role our government plays in our daily lives. I also had the opportunity to learn about what factors shape my own beliefs as well as listen and learn from my peers with differing points of view.

–Maria Castro ’20

James MooreI graduated from Mars Hill in December 2018; and double majored in Political Science and Criminal Justice. I then worked in my hometown of Boiling Springs, South Carolina for a few months before I joined the United States Army in August of 2019. I then earned my commission as a Second Lieutenant in March of 2020. I currently am in Fort Benning, Georgia completing the Infantry Basic Officer Leaders Course, and will attend the Army’s famous Ranger School early next year.

Mars Hill University and, more specifically, the Political Science department has helped me tremendously in where I am today. When we learn about the threats that we as a nation face today, I am better able to understand and see how America fits into the world both as a nation and as a military. My background in international politics also helps me to see and identify trends that have happened in the past and how we can learn from those and avoid some of the mistakes that have been made as a nation militarily.

If it were not for the Political Science department at Mars Hill, I would have not learned the dozens of nuances that have shaped where I stand politically today, but I also wouldn’t be in a position to help to show others the same nuances, and to make a positive impact in political discourse in today’s society.

–James Moore ’18

Gabriella SiegriedWhich University I was going to attend was a decision that I left until the absolute last minute, as I do most things. Nonetheless, my decision was heavily influenced by women’s soccer programs, but when it came to the last two institutions offering me athletic scholarships, Mars Hill was ultimately the one for me. There are many variables that contributed to deciding on an undergraduate program, but after meeting Heather Hawn and calling her several times to gather information about political science at Mars Hill, I was sold. At that point, I could not imagine that Dr. Hawn would help me through some of the most significant moments in my life, but so far she has. Dr. Rose has also been an incredible mentor and professor who is comfortable lending an ear without sugar coating any advice you might need to hear.

The political science department at Mars Hill is bound by the passion Dr. Hawn has not only for political science, but for creating an academic environment that promotes truly positive character development. Each political science student becomes part of an intimate community where there is humor, candor, friendship, and good ole’ conflict. PoliSci at MHU is the place where we each discover our potential while dissolving barriers that allow each of us to understand new perspectives that we otherwise ignored or avoided.

After graduation, I went home to Winter Park, FL and moved back in with my single father where I planned to save up money and volunteer in my community. I am now doing gratifying work for a sustainability consultancy group, ecoPreserve, while I work remotely for a zero-waste household products shop, Tangie, LLC. I am currently applying for graduate school at American University’s School of Public Affairs, New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, and Florida State University’s Askew School of Public Administration. I plan to work while I acquire my Masters of Public Administration and will be on the path to a career in the nonprofit or public sector in the next three years!

–Gabriella Siegfried ’19


“Congratulations on your acceptance to the full time program at the Charleston School of Law.” The foregoing sentence is something I never would have read had it not been for Mars Hill University and its political science program. From the very beginning, the political science professors were immensely supportive and helpful. For instance, Dr. Heather Hawn took it upon herself to not only schedule a tour of one of the law schools I applied to, but also drove myself, along with two fellow classmates, to the law school for the tour.

It did not take long after attending my classes at law school to realize how fortunate I was to have been part of a political science program that had a challenging curriculum and extensive workload, both of which prepared me for the demanding courses at the Charleston School of Law. I am forever grateful for the experience I had at Mars Hill University and would highly recommend Mars Hill to anyone interested in pursuing a political science degree.

Heather Lynn Huckabee ’13, Assistant Solicitor for the First Judicial Circuit in South Carolina

“Hello, I’m looking for a Mr. Arsidez LeĂłn. We are reaching out because we would like you to join us as a Steering Committee Member with The Human Rights Campaign in North Carolina.” That was a voicemail left to me back in February of 2018. It is interesting to think only a few short years ago I was listening for my name to be called so that I could receive my undergraduate degree in Political Science from Mars Hill. May of 2016 I was leaving Mars Hill University as the last class to enter as Mars Hill College students. The opportunities in service learning as a Bonner Scholar, the rigorous intersectional learning in the Political Science Department, and the access to a multitude of networking opportunities with Dr. Heather Hawn prepared me well for the roles I fill today. I have directly translated my work ethic from MHU into my work in 2016, post graduation, as a Campus Organizer with the NC Coordinated Campaign. A campaign in which I had the opportunity to lead a volunteer recruitment and voter activation program; and as a result formed a team directly responsible for over 3,000 East Carolina University students becoming first time voters in 2016. Post election 2017 I joined the ranks of The League of Conservation Voters as a National Field Organizer based in Raleigh. While at LCV I launched an initiative to highlight the work of LGBTQ persons, people of color, and students within the Climate Action NC program — collecting over 4,000 petition signatories. As the chapter President of the College Democrats at MHU I would have never had known that, a year post graduation, the College Democrats of North Carolina would request me to come and train on personal networking at their Fall Leadership Conference in High Point. Now, I’m currently coordinating with the Young Democrats and College Democrats to present at the 2018 State Convention on Auxiliary Outreach to students preparing for upcoming elections — as the VP of University and College Outreach for the LGBTQ Democrats of North Carolina. The close knit and personal attention I received at Mars Hill afforded me the means to truly refine my own brand and hone my professional skills–while receiving an extremely competitive liberal arts education. This is merely a snippet of my journey since graduating from MHU and I’ll continue on always remembering my MHU experience.

The mere ability to wake up overlooking the mountains was enough to stay; however, the sense of community present in the political science department and dedication of our faculty in ensuring every student is equipped with tools to enter their careers post graduation is why I would not have ever traded my experience as a Political Science Major at Mars Hill University.

–Arsidez R. LeĂłn ’16, VP of University and College Outreach, LGBTQ Democrats of NC and Steering Committee Member, Human Rights Campaign (NC Triangle)

When I came to Mars Hill, I was a quiet and introspective freshman interested in pursuing degree in fashion design. I left Mars Hill with an International Relations degree, a Fashion Degree, minors in French, Political Science, and History, and confidence. At Mars Hill, I was challenged in my political studies everyday, but I only truly appreciated the effect all of the work I put into presentations, long readings, class discussions, and papers after I got into law school. Dr. Heather Hawn transforms her students into qualified, capable, and well-spoken young adults ready for anything they choose to pursue.

Mars Hill’s International Relations and Political Science Programs prepared me for law school and for life after graduation in ways I did not even notice until I was sitting in class at Penn State Law. Mars Hill prepared me for everything from writing papers and preparing for daily readings to answering cold calls with ease. I attended a “Law Day” Dr. Hawn organized and she asked about my interests in law school and encouraged me to pursue it. I’m not sure I’d be a 2L at Penn State Law if she had not taken the time to talk to me that day. Dr. Hawn helped me grow as a person during my four years at Mars Hill and well past my graduation day. Mars Hill’s Political Science and International Relations programs are incredible educational opportunities, and anyone in these stimulating programs is exceptionally fortunate to be here.

Rachel Louviaux ’15

The Political Science Department at MHU is amazing! The faculty really pushed me to improve myself and explore topics that were interesting to me! One of my favorite classes was Model UN. When demand for this class exceeded expectations, Dr. Hawn decided to start offering it every year. Our class prepared for several weeks to attend the SRMUN event in Charlotte. At the conference, we put to use our new knowledge of UN procedures and policies while learning hands-on skills such as debate, cooperation, and professionalism.

After graduation, I applied to the Appalachian Studies Masters program at Appalachian State University. I am now using the skills I learned at MHU to research socio-political issues that affect the mountain communities of Appalachia. Through my research, I hope to bring awareness to these issues, such as resource sustainability and cultural preservation programs. I still maintain the connections I made at MHU and visit Madison County often.

Ian Kirkpatrick ’17

The Political Science program at Mars Hill opened doors for me that I did not think were possible. Most importantly, the program taught me to think critically and independently. Through the one on one support from the professors, I gained the confidence in my abilities that I needed to apply to law school. The program provided me with a strong foundation to not only be successful during my time at Mars Hill, but to also be a successful graduate and law student.


Skyler Assif Matthews ’13

Dr. Heather Hawn
Associate Professor of Political Science and Program Director
Office: 110 Founders Hall
Phone: (828)689-1335
Email: hhawn@mhu.edu
Education: B.A. University of North Carolina
J.D., Campbell University
Ph.D., University of South Carolina