Abbie Vegter

  • Major: Political Science: Policy Studies and Civic Leadership
  • Grad Year: 2017
  • Hometown: Kansas City, Kansas

I learned more than just the subject of political science while at Calvin—I learned how to engage with challenging ideas and form my own opinions.

What was the best part of being in the political science department?

If I had to choose just one, it would be the culture of the political science department. The department is structured in a way that not only effectively teaches students the subject of political science, but also the methods of critical thinking. Throughout my coursework, I learned to engage challenging material and form my own opinions. I was free to express those opinions and received feedback on how to better develop my ideas. The department creates space to try, fail, and try again – all while offering you support as you navigate a new educational setting. This environment profoundly shaped who I am today – confident in my ability to critically engage with the world around me and unafraid of failure and the resulting growth.

What was your interaction with professors like in the political science department?

The political science department professors remain some of the most influential people in my life. While they may not know the depth of the impact they had, they profoundly shaped how I understand my vocation. Multiple professors invested great amounts of time and energy into my scholarship and my life. They worked to provide me with opportunities to explore my love of research and policy, simultaneously molding my abilities and exposing my passions. In my work as a research assistant and teaching assistant, I discovered my love for academia and the power that scholarship can have in the world. They acted as my mentors and teachers as I wrestled with who God wanted me to be – and as a result of their investment, I am training to enter academia myself, determined to invest in the lives of my future students as they invested in me.

What’s one thing you would want to tell someone starting their journey at Calvin?

Calvin is a special place. Here, you will be surrounded by people who want the absolute best for you. Your professors and administrators at Calvin want to be sources of support for you, encouraging you as you discover your passions and your unique calling in life. Take advantage of this culture! Meet with your professors and ask questions about life and your vocation. Take classes in other departments and explore your interests. Attend lectures and guest talks. Learn as much as you can. Calvin College will stretch you and shape you in ways you cannot expect. Embrace it and enjoy it – four years go by faster than you think.

What about Calvin specifically prepared you for where you’re at now?

Substantively, Calvin College prepared me exceptionally well for graduate school. The professors in my PhD program have continually commented on the obvious quality of my undergraduate education, noting that Calvin College produces students that are unusually well-equipped for postgraduate education. The college as a whole, and specifically the political science department, teaches you excellent writing and research skills that can be used in a variety of jobs in a variety of sectors. Calvin’s reputation precedes it. I am a thousand miles away and it is known by my doctoral professors that Calvin produces smart, hard-working students who can write well and think critically.

Describe Calvin in three words or less (or in 140 characters).

Calvin is challenging, transformative, and engaging.