Career Fields

Most of our students choose jobs and develop careers that grow naturally out of the political science major. Even when the work is related only tangentially to the study of politics, we believe that the reading, writing, and communication skills that are central to our courses provide good preparation for any work.

Luther’s political science graduates are well prepared for graduate school. Here are some examples of their career paths:

George Kun ‘01 came to the U.S. and Luther from Liberia in 1997. He studied in Luther’s Nottingham program. After Luther, he earned a M.A. at the American University School of International Service and is now back in the UK studying law at Cambridge. George is widely recognized for his role in advocating for refugees around the world and has appeared on NPR and BBC.

Rudy Espino ‘97 came to Luther from California but stayed in the Midwest to earn his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Wisconsin. Lured by the chance to get closer to his native Los Angeles and away from those Midwestern winters, Rudy accepted a job at Arizona State where his research involves a wide range of areas related to minority politics (his dissertation, which focused on the Congressional Hispanic Caucus and Latino representation in Congress, received the American Political Science Association award for the best dissertation in race and politics).

Stephanie S. Rollie ’95 majored in political science and communication studies at Luther. She worked for two years as a consulting assistant at Frank N. Madrid Associates and then for three years as a project manager at Epley Marketing Services. Stephanie then earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in communication studies at the University of Iowa. Currently, she is an assistant professor at Miami University in Ohio.

Scott Fitzgerald ‘94 with degrees in philosophy and political science/sociology. One of many Luther students to earn an M.A. at Iowa State, Scott realized that sociology was his real academic love. He moved to Iowa City where he earned the Ph.D. Scott currently is an assistant professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte.

Bonnie Gunzenhauser ’90 went from Luther to the University of Chicago, where she earned a Ph.D. in English in 1998. While finishing at Chicago, she returned to Luther to teach Paideia for a year, and then moved on to a position at Millikin University in Decator, Illinois. After four years there, Bonnie took her current position at Roosevelt University in Chicago, where she teaches British Romantic literature and currently serves as English department chair. Bonnie draws upon the political science major in her research on 18th century copyright law and its impact on Romantic-era reading publics.

Jon Jensen ’89 combined his interests in ethics and politics by majoring in both philosophy and political science. After graduation, Jon spent a year in Baltimore in the Lutheran Volunteer Corps and then worked at the Wilderness Canoe Base in the Boundary Waters. He eventually found his way to Colorado where he earned a Ph.D. in philosophy. After teaching at Green Mountain College for three years, Jon agreed to come back to his alma mater, where he teaches philosophy and environmental studies and directs the college’s environmental studies program.

Emily Van Dunk ‘89 majored in political science and spent a year studying in England. After graduation, she was not quite sure what she wanted to do. The idea of continuing her studies sounded interesting, so she went to Iowa State where she earned the M.A. That led to a Ph.D. program at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She currently is an operations manager and program officer at the Argosy Foundation in Milwaukee and the co-author of School Choice and the Question of Accountability, published by Yale University Press.

Many political science majors go to law school after graduation. Some find the big firm in the city exciting, whereas others choose to practice law in a smaller firm or engage in governmental work. Some even choose not to practice law, although they would insist that the training and acquired knowledge play a role in their current work.

Meg McCormick ‘10 graduated from Luther with a major in political science. McCormick previously worked with Maccabee Public Relations and is currently working with Faegre Baker Daniels law firm as a PR Specialist, responsible for regional PR in Minneapolis, D.C., Chicago, Des Moines, China, and London.

Colton Long ‘09 graduated from Luther with a major in political science. Colton previously worked at Faegre Baker Daniels law firm as an associate and currently works as an attorney at Ogletree Deakins specializing in labor and employment law.

Tom Aumann ‘00 graduated with a major in political science. He earned a law degree from the School of Law, Loyola University Chicago. Tom prides himself on being in the small minority of attorneys that regularly practice their craft in a courtroom. He works as an attorney in the Federal Civil Rights Litigation Division of Chicago representing the city of Chicago or any of its 9,000 police officers.

Anjie Shutts ‘93 was the first recipient of the Jensen Medal given to a graduating senior based on a record of service as voted on by the members of the senior class. She attended Drake Law School. At Whitfield Eddy, where she is a partner, she has devoted much of her attention to family law, with a special emphasis on mediation and alternative dispute resolution.

Erin Perkins ‘91 became a paralegal after graduating from Luther with majors in political science and French. After working for the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C., she accepted a transfer to work for the DOJ in Denver, Colorado. She then earned her J.D. from the University of Colorado and currently works for the EPA doing NEPA and Clean Water counseling work.

Andrew Anderson ‘87 graduated with a political science major and then lived in China prior to pursuing an M.A. in Australia on a Rotary Fellowship. He studied law at Iowa and then worked in the Iowa attorney general’s office. Currently a partner in the Des Moines office of Faegre and Benson, Andrew served for a few years as chair of the Vision Iowa Program.

James Tegtmeier ‘87 earned a J.D. at Boston University after graduating from Luther with majors in English and political science. That led to a position in the Department of Transportation; after many years of doing much of the appellate work for the Federal Aviation Administration, he was promoted to the Office of Chief Counsel for the FAA. In 2013, he was appointed deputy regional counsel for the FAA’s Great Lakes Region.

John Anderson ‘85 was a political science major at Luther, and later attended the William Mitchell Law School. He returned to northern Wisconsin, where he grew up, to practice law. He currently is a judge in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. In 2003 he became a Circuit Court Judge in Bayfield County, Wisconsin. On the bench he has served on multiple state-wide committees and has been a leader in using video conferencing in the courtroom.

Louise Dovre Bjorkman ‘82 earned her J.D. at University of Minnesota. After practicing law for a number of years she was appointed to the bench in Ramsey County; there she served in many capacities, although she found her work in the juvenile courts especially gratifying. In 2005, Louise left the bench and returned to the practice of law as a partner and civil litigator at King Larson. In 2008, Governor Tim Pawlenty appointed her to the Minnesota Court of Appeals; in 2010 she was re-elected to that position.

One of the defining features of the Luther political science program is a heavy focus on practical politics. As a result, many of our majors study for a semester in Washington, D.C., work on campaigns, or secure other political internships. Some get the political bug and continue working actively in the world of politics after graduation.

Dan Christenson ‘02 with a major in political science and earned his M.A. in political science from Iowa State University in 2004. He was the deputy chief of staff for USDA, working directly with Secretary Vilsack in Washington, D.C.

Julie Adams ‘99 took a break from working toward obtaining a teaching certificate to help run Rep. James Leach’s congressional campaign. When Leach won re-election, Julie decided more politics would be fun, so she headed out to Washington, D.C., where she served for 17 months as an aide to First Lady Laura Bush, and then became the director of administration for Sen. Mitch McConnell (KY).

Josh Straka ‘97 held an internship with the PBS Washington Week during his semester in Washington and it whet his appetite for the world of politics. Josh majored in communication studies and political science, and went back to D.C. After working in the office of Minnesota Congresswoman Betty McCollum for a number of years, he returned to the Midwest and currently serves as the district director and communications director in McCollum’s St. Paul office.

Jim Nussle ’83 was the youngest delegate at the Republican National Convention that nominated Ronald Reagan in 1980. After graduation, Nussel earned a law degree at Drake University and then served as the Delaware County Attorney. In 1990, he was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives where he eventually became the chair of the House Budget Committee. In 2005, he announced his decision to leave the House and entered the governor’s race. After running for governor, he served George Bush as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. Currently he is president and CEO of The Nussle Group, a Washington government relations and consulting firm.

Many of our majors develop a deep interest in serving society on a variety of levels and have accepted positions with local service agencies, city and state governments, and international NGOs. Others have become clergy, physicians, veterinarians, journalists, intelligence analysts for the government, and the list goes on.

The interest in serving, which many of our majors possess, often leads to a year or more of volunteer work after graduating. Some join the Peace Corps, Lutheran Volunteer Corps, Teach For American, or Americorps. Others teach English as a second language.

We often recommend to students interested in the public sector that they consider earning a master’s degree in public policy or public administration or in another related area. These programs usually are two years in length and they do a terrific job of combining the academic and practical worlds. Many public universities have created institutes that provide this training (the Humphrey Institute at the University of Minnesota and the LaFollete Institute at the University of Wisconsin are two such examples).

Tyler Wiese ‘08 earned a law degree at University of Minnesota and majored in philosophy and political science. He is currently an attorney at the National Labor Relations Board, having been selected in 2011 as one of only two General Counsel Honors Attorney.

While attending Luther, Kris Lyndon Wilson ‘97 spent a semester in Washington (she interned in the U.S. House Committee on Education). After Luther, Kris earned an M.S. in a legislative affairs program at Rutgers University.  She is currently the assistant to the city administrator in Shakopee, Minnesota.

Shannon (Miller) Duval ‘95 with majors in English and political science. While in the University of Indiana graduate program for higher education administration, she developed an interest in nonprofit leadership. Shannon has served in leadership positions in several hospital foundations and is currently the president of Mercy Medical Foundation in Des Moines.

Marjorie Opuni-Akuamoa ‘92 majored in French and political science prior to earning multiple degrees (including a Ph.D.) at Johns Hopkins. She has served as Senior Advisor for the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS in Switzerland.

Lorna (Benson) Horwich ‘90 has worked for Minnesota Public Radio in many capacities (including news director in the St. Peter bureau and local host of All Things Considered). She majored in political science and communication studies. She currently is a St. Paul-based correspondent for MPR, covering health care and environmental issues.

Some political science majors do the work necessary to become certified to teach at the secondary level. They often combine their major with another social science to increase the job opportunities. Some students who major in history also do a teaching minor in political science.

Liz Smith ‘11 graduated with majors in art and political science. She is in her second year of teaching 7-9 grade math in northeastern Arkansas in Teach for America.

Brandon Reed ‘10 first heard about Teach for America during his freshman year when a Luther grad visited his Environmental Politics class to talk about the program. After spending a year in Indonesia on a Fulbright Teaching Award, he headed to Plymouth, North Carolina where he worked with Teach for America, teaching high school English. He is currently working as the special assistant to the strategic council for the Office of Jim Collins in Denver, CO.

Brian Tucker ‘97 graduated with majors in political science and religion. Following graduation, he moved to Dubuque, Iowa, where he studied theology in preparation for the ministry in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. Part of his education involved contextual education in Namibia, South Africa, Norway, and Denmark. He worked as a chaplain in residence at Central Maine Medical Center and as an intern pastor at Cross Lutheran Church on Milwaukee’s north side. Finding that teaching was his true vocation, he earned a master’s degree in education from Marquette University in 2002 and taught U.S. History and World Affairs at Greenfield High School. In 2003, Brian moved to Iola, Wisconsin, where he currently teaches 8th-grade social studies specializing in East Asian cultures, 10th-grade U.S. History and 11th-grade U.S. Government. Brian also teaches Tae Kwon Do, and during his summers, he spends time cycling, kayaking and hiking with his son Evan and wife Jackie.

Eric Beckman ‘89 graduated with a major in political science, a minor in math, and certification to teach both. After trying the West Coast for a number of years, he returned to the Midwest where he teaches history (including AP courses) and coaches debate at Anoka High School.  In the summer of 2006, Eric was one of 15 U.S. teachers to spend a month in Nottingham, England, studying the Industrial Revolution in Britain as part of a National Endowment for the Humanities program. He also taught and wrote curriculum for online politics and law courses.

Scott Pierce ‘88 and has been teaching for 25 years, with 16 of them spent at Decorah High School. In addition to a general government course and an American National Government course taught for community college credit, Scott also teaches a computer research course and coaches freshman football and the girls golf team.

Michael Osterholm ‘75 with majors in political science and biology. His interest in science and policy has resulted in work as state epidemiologist in Minnesota, advisor to Director of HHS Tommy Thompson, leading spokesperson regarding many matters related to public health and currently director of the Center of Infectious Disease Research and Policy at University of Minnesota where he also is a professor in the School of Public Health. In 2005 he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

David Hunt ‘71 graduated with majors in political science and history and an intense desire to teach. A social studies teacher in the Clarence-Lowden High School for many years, he was honored by the Iowa Department of Education in 1991 as the teacher of the year. In addition, David has spent many summers on the campus of his alma mater, serving as the academic coordinator for the summer Upward Bound program.

Many political science majors gravitate to the world of commerce.

Zachary Kulzer ‘10 with majors in political science and philosophy. He currently works in the Office of Communications at The Brookings Institution in Washington, DC. In addition to managing livestream events on the internet and helping edit the collection of multimedia resources from around the world, he interacts on a daily basis with prominent journalists, politicians, and scholars who influence policy debates in the U.S. and abroad.

Scott Meyer ‘05 with a major in political science. Scott then went to Tromso, Norway where he earned an M.A. funded by the Rotary Foundation, taught at the University, and traveled around Norway (the basis for his book, The Travel Hacking Guide to Norway). He is the founder and chief outreach officer for 9 Clouds in 2009, an international digital education firm that educates and assists businesses in connecting with customers.

Elizabeth Kephart Reisinger ‘00 graduated with a political science major and immediately went to St. Petersburg, Florida as a summer writing fellow at the Poynter Institute of Media Studies. After a stint of feature writing in New York, she moved to Minneapolis where she eventually joined the editorial staff at Greenspring Media Group, writing about food, dining and the meeting, and event industry. She currently works from her house as a freelance writer.

Wendy (Jaycox) Davidson ‘92 with a sociology/political science major. After spending 18 years in various sales, marketing, and operations roles with Tyson Foods she became a vice president and general manager at McCormick & Co. in 2010. Davidson’s public service includes membership on Luther’s Board of Regents.

Lee Ann Shay Tegtmeier ‘90 with majors in English and political science. Her interest in journalism—she was a CHIPS editor at Luther—led her to continue writing and to pursue an M.A. at Johns Hopkins. She has become knowledgeable about the world of aviation while seeing much of the world in her capacity as Chief Editor MRO for Aviation Week, The McGraw-Hill Companies.

William Barth ‘86 moved to Washington, D.C. after graduating with majors in communication studies and political science. In the 27 years since he began as a document runner he has moved to the top of the industry. He also served as vice president of fraud & investigations within Thomson Reuters’ Corporate Counsel business and has expanded his expertise into the areas of Due Diligence and Risk Management. Barth is currently the vice president of dockets and document retrieval at Thomson Reuters.

Brian Rude ‘77 graduated with majors in political science and history and has an avid interest in politics. Brian served both in the Wisconsin House and Senate where he served as its president. He is currently vice-president in charge of external and member relations at Dairyland Power. Brian has served as the President of the Luther Alumni Council, has received Luther’s Distinguished Service Award, and has taught a course on practical politics twice for the Department.