First Political Science Class to Graduate
The Political Science degree program in the Anderson University College of Arts and Sciences was created with the vision of preparing graduates for leadership roles in government and legal affairs.
The program, which is built on a biblical foundation, is designed to give students an advanced understanding of government and the legal system while developing the critical thinking and communication skills essential for a good transition into law school and other advanced graduate studies.
Many political science seniors are planning to enter law school after graduation from Anderson University in May 2022. Some of the seniors shared pivotal life moments that inspired them to pursue the legal field.
Reflecting on her grandfather’s journey to American citizenship inspired Jayli Esber of Connecticut to pursue a career in immigration law.
“My grandfather was an immigrant from Lebanon. It was actually my freshman year when I became very interested in my family’s heritage and became interested in my grandfather’s life, so I looked into his story,” said Esber. “I've wanted to go to law school since high school, so it kind of made sense.”
Esber feels her classes have been the preparation she needs. One class, Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, is structured similarly to a class found in law school, with a mock trial as the cumulative assignment. Esber was accepted into William and Mary Law School (her grandfather received his undergraduate degree at W&M).
Though Michaela Newton of Chicago, Illinois, initially came to Anderson to major in theatre, she came to a point of soul searching.
“My mother is a lawyer. We have several different family members who are in law, so that’s always been present in my life and attractive,” said Newton, who is interested in entering either criminal law or constitutional law. She feels peace about her choice to major in political science. She’s also got the best of both worlds, still getting to work in student productions at the South Carolina School of the Arts at Anderson University.
“I’m super grateful to the department for still letting me be a participant, even though I’ve changed my major,” said Newton. She feels that her degree program has been “a hundred percent” beneficial.
“I’m also a member of the honors program, which has been so amazing in teaching critical thinking in a different way, but also integrating Christian thought into secular philosophy in literature,” Newton said. “I know I’m not going to a Christian law school—I didn’t apply to any of those—but I feel prepared to go out and be the kind of person I’ve become at Anderson, that I’m not going to compromise my morals and my integrity.”
Senior Kamryn Osterbind, also a member of the Trojans Cross Country and Track and Field teams, remembers trying to join a school track team as a high school student. Frequent family moves because of her father’s engineering jobs made school transitions hard, so she was homeschooled. Her family legally challenged a New Jersey school district’s laws excluding homeschoolers, but lost. For the next three years of high school, she either ran alone or competed in club runs—anywhere she could compete. Interning with the attorney who had helped her family, Osterbind became interested in the legal profession.
She feels that Anderson University’s political science program is giving her a clear view of what law school is like.
“I took a class they modeled after a law school class, so I’m familiar with what homework is going to look like, what time is going to look like, what class discussion is going to look like, what trials look like… I dip my toes into all of the aspects that are coming for me. I feel like nothing is going to take me by surprise,” Osterbind said.
Osterbind’s fiancé Bryce Goodwyn also majored in political science and minored in public policy. Since graduating in December, 2021, he’s been working in Atlanta as a junior paralegal for an insurance defense firm. They’re both applying to law schools and praying about next steps.
Goodwyn feels drawn to the legal profession by the desire to work against injustice, defending individuals who otherwise wouldn’t have access to adequate legal representation.
He feels his years at Anderson were a time of growth.
“The biggest form of development I’ve noticed in myself is the way I was able to write more succinctly,” Goodwyn said. “Often the adage ‘less is more’ is appreciated. The amount of writing we did in our political science courses and the way the professors graded in terms of brevity was a great precursor to what we can take into law school. As gracious as our professors were—if we went over a page or a word count—law school professors are not going to be so gracious. That was well-instilled in us by the department.”
“Whichever discipline the Lord takes me in law, whether it be criminal or civil, I hope He uses me to help as many people as I can in accordance with His purpose in my life,” Goodwyn said.
Professor Roger Flynn, chair of the Department of History and Political Science, said, “The first class of political science students that are graduating this semester set the bar incredibly high for those that are following in their footsteps; However, I am confident that the succeeding classes will rise to meet that challenge.
When starting a new program, a deep seeded fear is that we will not have any students. Imagine starting a new program with no students. Thankfully not only did we get some students, we got some truly amazing ones that far exceeded any expectations that we had.
Within four years, the political science program has grown to nearly 50 students. This incredible growth is a true testament not only to the hard work and determination of the faculty, but to our wonderful students who have excelled and have spread the word.
It has been a real joy to see our students develop and transform over the past for years. Although I am thrilled that they are going off to do some truly impressive things, I am also, to be honest, incredibly sad too. They will be truly missed.”