Why Public Affairs?

This post was written by Cassandra Balosos, student editor and a junior political science major in the Department of Public Affairs at Roanoke College.

From a young age, we’ve all used the phrase, “when I grow up…” Back then it ranged from the essential schoolteacher to your favorite princess or superhero. Fast forward to your senior year of college where, if you were like me you still didn’t know what you wanted to do with your life besides leave home. Many say how important senior year is, a time to figure out what you want to be, but for many they’re just like me – they don’t know.

Luckily, for those of you still struggling to find a home amongst Roanoke College’s vast list of majors, minors, and concentrations, we have three students who have shared their stories of finding success in a field they’ve come to know and love.


Lyndee Zeller is a senior who is majoring in International Relations. Lyndee is like many students who come Roanoke College with a plan. She started her freshman year with an interest in public policy. Like Lyndee, many of us go into college our first year already knowing what we want to study, but life happens and you might end up changing your mind. Maybe you take a random class that you otherwise wouldn’t have picked as your first choice, and ultimately love it. That’s what Lyndee experienced. Now, Lyndee is an International Relations major, with a minor in Spanish.

Although International Relations isn’t a far reach from Political Science, she was still able to take classes with professors who, in many ways, enlightened her to something new and more rewarding. To name a few of these professors; Dr. Parsons, who instructed her Research Methods, helped Lyndee better understand the field of work she would one day pursue. Another professor was Professor Kirby, who worked with Lyndee on a more personal note. She states, “I admire Professor Kirby for continuing to motivate my efforts in public service; he acknowledges my work ethic.” I cannot stress the importance of relationships that should and need to be formed with your professors. Every department here at Roanoke is close-knit. Relationships, such as the ones Lyndee (and myself) has developed are helpful in more ways then you would think. The third professor Lyndee mentions is Dr. Peppers, someone many of you will get the opportunity to work with if you plan to attend the Lutheran College Washington Semester. For this exact reason Lyndee has noted his expertise and advise.

As with Andy, Lyndee acquired an internship that would help mold her future. Her internship with the Washington Semester Program gave her the experience to work with Just Neighbors, a “nonprofit immigration law firm focusing on refugee and asylum cases as well as Deferred Action Childhood Arrival applications.” She even followed up the semester in D.C. by interning with U.S. Senator Barbara Mikulski’s office during the summer. This amazing program Roanoke College’s Public Affairs department offers helped solidify Lyndee’s pursuit in a career in public affairs, “specializing with the immigrant community, and additionally providing services for humanitarian aid at a global level.”

One of the many perks of Roanoke College Public Affairs department is the Washington Semester; this reason was one of the many that made me choice Roanoke to begin with. I wasn’t exactly sure what I wanted to do, but imaging myself with an internship on the Hill or with an NGO was a possible opportunity that I did not want to pass up.


Andy Jowdy is a senior Criminal Justice major. When asked why he chose his major, his response was, “I decided to take on the Criminal Justice major during my sophomore year here at Roanoke. I chose to study CJ because I wanted to be a part of an organization that was bigger than myself.” Like many, Andy came into Criminal Justice hoping that one day he would be able to do some good, help those who are in need of protection the most; “I wanted to be involved in a cause that helps to protect others, especially those who cannot protect themselves. To me, the field of Criminal Justice gives dedicated individuals the opportunity to make a difference to communities by serving the public through work, which is both significant and hands-on. This opportunity to serve reflects my desire to make a meaningful difference to those individuals and communities I engage with.”

Studying with the Criminal Justice major helped give Andy better insight into what he wanted for his future. He would later hold an internship with Roanoke and Henrico County Police Department. These two internships paired with the teachings from Professors Jon Perry and Morgan Scott has left Andy to pursue a career in federal law enforcement. Andy was quick to note that these two were some of his favorite professors who not only helped him in the classroom, but outside as well. This is something I have come to know and believe myself through my professors.



Jessica Fuller is a senior and helps round out the third major in the department – Political Science. Like many, Jessica considered law. She held a passion for “politics, laws, government, and political behavior.” Her interests were only encouraged after taking courses like research methods.

Not only is Jessica holding a major in Political Science, she is also pursuing a major in Spanish. When the opportunity arose to study abroad in Argentina, Jessica in so many words, took it and ran. She was able to apply both her majors while studying aboard and “become apart of a different culture while studying its political government.” For those of you considering a career in law, but aren’t sure which field, the majors in Public Affairs allow you to explore the domestic and international areas of law.

What is interesting about these three students are the experiences they’ve had outside of the classroom. Whether it’s an internship in your local city or an internship in D.C. or studying abroad in a different country, the Public Affairs department is giving its students multiple opportunities to really figure out what our interests are, and what we want to see ourselves doing in the future. Figuring out our future doesn’t seem so terrifying when you have help and a good support system.

Public Affairs is one of the many fields to pursue here at Roanoke College, with excellent advisors and professors who use their experiences to transform the learning environment in the classroom. With opportunities outside the classroom, you will surely find a home somewhere in the department.

It’ll be interesting to see where these three will end up. Best of luck to Andy, Lyndee, and Jessica in their future endeavors.