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For ASU grad, speech and debate helped light a fire for politics

Alexander Sojourney

Alexander Sojourney

May 11, 2020

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2020 graduates.

Spring 2020 ASU graduate Alexander Sojourney discovered his passion for politics at ASU, and he hopes to continue that passion in the nation’s capital.

Sojourney, who is completing his degree in political science this month, was involved with many student organizations throughout his time at ASU. He participated in Undergraduate Student Government, the Speech and Debate club, Devils on the Run and the Black Student Union at the West campus. 

As a junior, Sojourney was the student body president at the West campus, and as a senior he was the president of the Black African Coalition. Sojourney, who is from Glendale, Arizona, was also the recipient of the Presidential and New American University scholarships.

As a first-year student, Sojourney joined ASU’s Speech and Debate club, where he discovered his passion for politics.

“It occured to me midway through the semester that I think where my passion lies is being involved with politics at the local level, at the national level and specifically for me at the campus level,” Sojourney said.

Looking toward the future, Sojourney hopes to attend Georgetown University's democracy and governance master’s degree program. The program in Washington, D.C., focuses on exposure to professional experience, reputation, languages and education in public service.

As Sojourney prepared to graduate, he reflected on his time at ASU and some of the lessons he learned along the way.

Question: What was your “aha” moment, when you realized you wanted to study the field you majored in?

A: Originally I had a major in the Thunderbird School of Global Management, but I met a friend my freshman year who wanted to make a debate club. I was in high school speech and debate. …  I think that's what made me change my major, and that was the “aha” moment for me to join student government, for me to be a campus liaison and actually make sure that if there are any changes students want, I would be able to institute those changes so students have a better time being a Sun Devil.

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

A: For me, something that surprised me about ASU was giving me the opportunity of traveling out of the country. For USG we were able to go to Hong Kong for an international trip for the PLuS Alliance, and it really solidified the fact to me personally that ASU is a global-reaching university.

We have so many locations and campuses that are out of the United States, and we have collaborations with other universities. When ASU talks about how it's a global university you really don’t have a perspective of it until you actually speak with students from Kings College, London, or from the University of New South Wales in Australia, and you actually talk about the history and the backstory and the context behind how ASU has all these massive partnerships. It really makes me happy to be a Sun Devil.

Q: Why did you choose ASU?

A: The selling point for me was Barrett, The Honors College. It was rated the No. 1 honors college by the New York Times, and I think that was a main selling point. 

Out of high school I really wanted to continue being academically challenged, and for me looking at the competition ASU was the best value. It was the best education and job-prospect-wise after graduation; it just seemed like it was the better choice.

Q: What are your plans after graduation?

A: As of right now I am working for the Arizona Supreme Court. I am going to finish up my internship with them in late May, and then I am going to be applying to some fellowships for grad school. I’m looking at the Rangel Fellowship and Pickering Foreign Affairs Program. My plan, if I hopefully get accepted, is to attend Georgetown's democracy and governance master’s program.

Q: Which professor taught you the most important lesson while at ASU?

A: I had the opportunity to meet internship coordinator Gisela Grant during my junior year at ASU while being selected to be an ASU Capital Scholar. My first interaction with Professor Grant, I was struck by her level of professionalism, her commitment to excellence and her no-nonsense personality. I admired the amount of self-sacrifice she would put in helping every student succeed. Professor Grant has helped me during my time at ASU by expecting more of me, which made me expect more of me.

Written by Madeleine Williamson, Sun Devil Storyteller

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