Grad’s lifelong love of political science leads to PhD


Samantha Hernandez

ASU spring 2018 PhD graduate Samantha Hernandez. Photo courtesy of Samantha Hernandez

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Editor’s note: This is part of a series of profiles for spring 2018 commencement

Samantha Hernandez’s interest in political science started at a young age.

“The first book I read on my own was a kid's biography on Susan B. Anthony and I was fascinated by the idea of needing to fight for the right to vote,” Hernandez said. “After that, elections seemed really important to me, and I just fell in love with politics. Political science was a natural fit.”

On May 7, Hernandez will earn her PhD in political science from ASU’s School of Politics and Global StudiesUpon graduation, she will become one of the first Latinas to earn a doctoral degree in political science from ASU and among the first 50 in the nation to achieve this milestone.

Originally from Gregory, Texas, she received her bachelor's in political science from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and her master's in political science from the University of Texas – San Antonio.

Hernandez’s lifelong love of civic engagement influenced her educational and career goals, as well as her time on campus at ASU. She served as president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association and was a recruitment adviser for the Alpha Gamma Delta International Fraternity at ASU.

On a national level, she served as director of legislative affairs for the National Association of Graduate-Professional Students.

After graduation, she plans to move to Washington, D.C., and work on higher education policy.  

Question: What’s something you learned while at ASU — in the classroom or otherwise — that surprised you, that changed your perspective? 

Answer: The best lesson I learned while at ASU was how important interdisciplinary work is. As a PhD student you get so caught up in your subfield, it’s nice to work with others and see what kind of research they do and how it can be applied to yours. 

Q: Why did you choose ASU? 

A: I chose ASU because of my research interests. This was one of three departments that had a strong women and politics and race and politics program. 

Q: What’s the best piece of advice you’d give to those still in school?  

A: Don't be afraid to get involved in campus activities. You have the time, and it’s a great way to take a break from your research and think of new areas to study. 

Q: What was your favorite spot on campus, whether for studying, meeting friends or just thinking about life? 

A: I love the Graduate Student Center. I can work in the conference room, use the kitchen or talk to friends in the lounge.  

Q: If someone gave you $40 million to solve one problem on our planet, what would you tackle? 

A: I would use the money to start a nonprofit to help minority and first-generation students apply for graduate school. 

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