Last updateFri, 08 May 2020 6pm


Global Go-Getters: Monmouth Alumni Take on London

MU Alumni London

Life after Monmouth is pret­ty sweet for Emma O’Rourke, Liam Coffey, James Hawk, and Jackson Pope—four alumni who get to chase their dreams at graduate school in London.

While O’Rourke and Hawk are attending the London School of Economics (LSE), Coffey and Pope are continu­ing their education at King’s College London. The gradu­ate students, who have all re­ceived a bachelor’s degree in political science, have much to look forward to this year. Nearly 3,000 miles away from Monmouth, and across the Atlantic Ocean, they will be meeting brilliant professors and gaining remarkable expe­rience.

Ken Mitchell, Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Politi­cal Science and Sociology and Associate Professor of Politi­cal Science, said, “Both uni­versities are highly competi­tive and high on world ranking tables. The London School of Economics is like getting into Harvard here.” Mitchell him­self has studied at LSE before going on to receive a Ph.D. in politics at Oxford University. His diplomas hang proudly on the wall of his office.

During their undergraduate careers, all four students were involved in extracurriculars such as the debate team and Model United Nations, travel­ing to England every semester to compete with students from around the globe.

O’Rourke has had rich ex­perience as an undergraduate student. She published a re­search article in The Journal of International Relations alongside former President Barack Obama in the spring of 2019. She interned at S&P Global in Washington D.C. She graduated summa cum laude in May of 2019. To top it off, she took seven international trips to London with Mitchell and fellow political science stu­dents.

“My traveling academic ex­periences with Dr. Mitchell from freshman to senior year has furthered my interest in travel abroad,” said O’Rourke. “I would never have thought to apply for LSE if it hadn’t been for Model UN trips to London connecting with Monmouth alum at LSE.”

Now, as a student at LSE her­self, she is pursuing a master’s in development studies.

“I’m excited for LSE to open doors for me I may not even have known possible,” she said. “I’m looking to succeed at LSE and stand out amongst my peers.” Going forward, she intends to pursue consultancy at a public or private organiza­tion in regards to development.

“When Monmouth is at its best, it produces Emma O’Rourkes,” said Mitchell. “Four years doing all these great things, getting tons of personal connections with pro­fessors, and creating this great resume.”

Mitchell credits Monmouth University for giving students the opportunities to excel in their undergraduate careers, preparing them for life af­ter graduation. He said that Monmouth has been very generous at funding extracur­riculars. Monmouth pays for students’ airfare, housing, and contest fees when they com­pete in Model UN.

Mitchell himself has served as a prime role model for these four students.

“The professors are utterly invested in their students,” said O’Rourke. “[They] inspire stu­dents to get involved in aca­demic extracurriculars which push for students to think criti­cally outside of the classroom.”

Coffey, one of the two graduate students attending King’s College London, said, “Monmouth University pre­pared me in so many ways, but you have to find the professors that will push you to be better.”

Coffey is studying for a mas­ter’s in war studies and hopes to either pursue a Ph.D. and stay in London to work for NATO (the North Atlantic Treaty Organization), or return to the United States and work for the United Nations or De­partment of State.

If there’s one piece of advice that Mitchell can give to cur­rent Monmouth students who seek to follow in O’Rourke and Coffey’s paths, it’s to explore the realms outside your com­fort zone.

Mitchell said, “The chal­lenge at Monmouth is there are a lot of very talented stu­dents who don’t know what’s possible. You might have to leave [Monmouth County] for a while to go get that experi­ence and credentials that make you valuable.”

“I never thought I would be packing up my belongings and traveling to another country to study,” said Coffey. “I have always been a person who was comfortable in the area he lived and did not want to change that. But getting into King’s, a top 20 university in the world, I would have been foolish to decline going. Plus, London is such a diverse city. Every day you are meeting people from all parts of the globe. That is something you will never get to experience again.”

O’Rourke also said that studying in London enables her to step outside of her com­fort zone, and looks forward to the learning experience of be­ing in London.

“Learning the nuances of moving to a new country and adapting is something I can’t experience at a school in the US,” she said.

Monmouth’s undergraduate political science department has done more than enough to prepare these students for their international journeys. For the last six years, at least one Monmouth graduate has attended LSE each year. This year, three political science students are applying to the same school that has propelled numerous alumni into reward­ing careers in the field of poli­tics.

“I am super proud of these people,” said Mitchell, a slight English accent slipping into his American intonation. “It’s great that MU students are landing at such prestigious institutions and elevating the MU reputation. I think it’s a wonderful experience to go to an elite university with peo­ple from around the world. It gives them that experience of being with the deep end of the pool.”

Reflecting upon his own ac­ademic career, Mitchell con­tinued, “I had a great time in England. It changed my life.”

For O’Rourke, Coffey, Pope, and Hawk, their academic experience in London is the beginning of the rest of their lives. From Monmouth’s sub­urban campus to the charm­ing streets of London, they are reaching for the stars during an opportunity of a lifetime.


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