Editor’s Note: This story is one in a series of notable spring 2021 graduate profiles.
Victoria Stratton came to Arizona State University from a small town in Ohio five years ago, eager to tackle global issues and make connections. After arriving, she got her first internship – it was unpaid, but she was thrilled with the opportunity nonetheless.
Victoria Stratton plans to study at Georgetown Law this fall and hopes to major in international law and international humanitarian law. She is a two-time graduate from ASU and obtained her BA and MA in Political Science from the School of Politics and Global Studies.
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“I walked in on day one and I was so excited,” she said. “Then I met all the others and a lot of them were high school kids and I just felt like I was two years behind everyone because where I’m from is never seen, no one does a high school internship, but all these students had and were already more advanced than me.
As a first generation student and self-proclaimed perfectionist, Stratton already faced the hurdle of navigating the world of higher education and now felt like she was behind her peers. But she turned obstacles into learning lessons and overcame the idea that she was late and couldn’t catch up, realizing that she just had a different path.
“I wish I could tell my young self: everything will be fine,” she said.
This spring, Stratton earned her Masters in Political Science, making her a two-time ASU alumnus after earning her BA in Political Science in Spring 2020 as part of the College of the Arts 4 + 1 Accelerated Program. liberals and sciences. .
During Stratton’s five years of study at ASU, she participated in various opportunities that positively impacted her experience in a number of sometimes unexpected ways, including working as a marketing student in the College’s Dean’s Office.
“When I started working I was like, ‘This has nothing to do with anything I do. “… But the work really tightened up my way of speaking and writing and honed my ability to edit things, which was so beneficial. I didn’t expect this work to ever be so relevant in my law and political science classes, but it was very useful to me, ”she said.
Strengthening her oral and written skills was crucial as she prepared her thesis, which she defended in May. She said it wasn’t until her freshman year, when she took a women in global leadership course with Professor Sarah Shair-Rosenfield, that she found the direction she wanted.
“This course really set me on the path to wanting to study where women fall on the leadership spectrum in the world, and what barriers are still in place for women to access leadership, as barriers in the United States are very different from the barriers in Afghanistan, ”she said.
From there, she took a course focusing on strategic and cultural influences in Afghanistan as well as a course focusing on women in armed conflict.
“All of these things came together in my first year of masters. And in my second year, I wrote two articles for the courses: one on Afghanistan, the other on Pakistan. The question was how do conflicts affect the ability of women to run for office?
“I reviewed legislative candidates and determined whether higher levels of conflict resulted in a decrease in the number of women candidates. My overall hypothesis was that conflict accentuates gender polarization and masculinizes the political sphere because people have a certain idea of what leadership is, especially when going through all this conflict, they may see their leader as more masculine. . My idea was that this would then result in women choosing not to run for office and seeing that as an obstacle, ”Stratton said. “I worked with Dr Magda Hinojosa and Dr Thorin Wright to refine these articles and get to a point where they were ready to be put together into a cohesive thesis.”
Stratton shared more about her experiences at the School of Politics and Global Studies as an undergraduate and graduate student.
Question: Why did you choose ASU?
Reply: Originally, I was interested in ASU’s Global Studies program, as few schools have a global studies element. I ended up moving into political science after the first year, but the global elements of ASU and the opportunities that ASU offered are truly unmatched by others. It’s hard to enjoy it in your early years, but as I grew older and had more time in ASU, especially with the 4 + 1 program, I was able to really take advantage of some of these opportunities that other schools do not have. offers, like relationships and all those reputable academics that you have undergraduate courses with. You don’t recognize how popular they are in their field. Even the connections that ASU has in terms of research, like the current research center I work in – the Center on Storytelling, Disinformation, and Strategic Influence – most universities don’t have a dedicated center for strategic communications.
Q: Did you have an “aha” moment when you realized you wanted to study your major (s) or what attracted you to the degree program?
A: I decided I wanted to study politics when I was very young; discussing politics with my father was our morning activity. Once I got to ASU I took one of the lower level General Global Studies courses with Dr Siroky and started to see that there were some parts of the class that interested me. more than others. I was interested in foreign affairs policy and who makes decisions about what, especially with regard to human rights. I really started to dig into these topics and realized that a lot of these courses were political science, not world studies. With ASU there are so many courses for you to choose from, especially in Political Science. Many of these are general courses on one of these topics, so I was able to take advantage of that by picking out the ones I wanted and then working with my advisors to figure out where that fit into my study plan. . I also understood that the political science route leads directly to a master’s degree, which was perfect for my future goals.
Q: What did you learn while you were in college – in class or elsewhere – that surprised you or changed your perspective?
A: I’ve learned that there are so many different topics and each one is important and someone is studying it. If you have a question about something, there is someone trying to answer it, or if there isn’t, this is the perfect topic for you. This is what I started to realize in my graduate seminars – everyone would ask questions when we read an article and the professor would simply say, “This is a great subject of study. And I began to understand that this is how research is done. Instead of just saying “Oh, I want to research Afghanistan,” for example, instead ask a question and then try to figure out how you can answer it in the best possible way, then someone else will try. to answer is a different way. It’s something that I think my undergraduate experience really built on and my graduate experience taught me how to take that, run with it, and do my own research.
Q: Did you receive any scholarships or financial support during your stay at ASU? If so, how did this impact your experience?
A: I received the New American University scholarship which lasted four years and made college an affordable option for me. Especially with parents who didn’t go to college, realizing how many universities there were was kind of a wake-up call for them to realize, “Oh, wow, it’s gonna be an expensive trip.” So it really helped me start my journey to school. My second year, I received the William D. Kavan scholarship, which not only gave me a financial boost for the semester, allowing me to work a little less, but it also allowed me to get the mentorship from a very competent person. at ASU and understand the dynamics of ASU and how to get all the opportunities I needed. My donor, Bill Kavan, helped me get into a limited class, and that class ended up shaping my eventual thesis. In my final year, I received the graduate scholarship which allowed me to have a bit of extra financial help to get through this year and the pandemic.
Q: Which teacher taught you the most important lesson during your time at ASU?
A: I have had many wonderful teachers who have helped me get here, but I would say Dr Tara Lennon has really helped me move forward. When I received the Kavan award there was a scholarship event and that day I had a full day of classes and didn’t want to go because I was going to be so overwhelmed with all of them. my other business. She convinced me that I had to go and over that lunch I met all of these wonderful people that I finally worked with. I continued to take several of his classes after that, which all built on top of each other, although they weren’t necessarily related. There was a course called “Do you want to build a nation? And it was my favorite class I have ever taken. She was at my thesis defense, so she was present at the end of my first class with her first year … She was with me all the time, even if it was only a professor who had the classes to help me.
Q: What advice do you have for current or future students?
A: Make sure to research your teachers and decide who you want to work with, even if that means going during office hours or just taking classes. If you are able to determine which professors are looking for your interests – which My ASU has a search feature which is excellent for this – then you can make a new friend who can help you navigate all of these different systems, especially if you want to go to higher school.
Q: What are your plans after you graduate?
A: I will be attending Georgetown Law this fall and hope to major in international law and international humanitarian law. Georgetown has many human rights clinics, including one focused on women. My goal is to bring this knowledge to this clinic, to start looking at how human rights interact with leadership, because if there are no women leaders then the interests of women are not properly. represented. My idea is to bring this into the realm of international law and human rights or wherever law school takes me next.