Political Science major Abby Oliver recently attended the Midwest Political Science Association conference in Chicago to present her Honors thesis paper, "The Youth Vote and Political Engagement: The Impact of Political Polarization, 1980-2012." She has been working with Professor Whitt Kilburn on this research, and she presented her poster alongside other excellent undergraduate students' research posters.
“As MPSA was my first academic conference, I really did not know what to expect. I was pleasantly surprised at how rewarding the experience was. This was an excellent forum to challenge and expand my perspective of not only political science topics, but on life. I am constantly humbled by the unique perspectives of my peers and other professors. To me, it was also interesting to see that the majority of the research presented was based on quantitative data rather than theory,” she said.
“When I decided to use data analysis techniques for my senior thesis, I knew this would be a tremendous challenge for me, seeing as my primary focus in political science relies more on theory and real world application. Without taking [Professor Kilburn’s] Political Analysis (PLS 300) and his mentoring this semester, my thesis would not be possible. He also encouraged me to submit my research to MPSA. This is definitely something I would not have done without his confidence in me and my work.”
What advice would Abby have for other PLS students? “My advice would be, simply take the risk. You may be nervous, but so is everyone else. People are not there to judge you, they are just simply other political science nerds, looking to learn about political science. As an undergraduate, graduate students and professors are simply impressed you are there, so do not be afraid. While this may be an intimidating experience at first, the self-fulfillment you gain from the experience is 100% worth it.”