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Dean's Medalist dedicates his career to preserving America's constitutional democracy

Gregory Abbott follows his passion for US history and civic education

Gregory Abbott

Dean’s Medalist Gregory Abbott

April 25, 2022

Editor's note: This story is part of a series of profiles of notable spring 2022 graduates.

A Phoenix native, Gregory Abbott entered Arizona State University in 2018 after graduating from Brophy College Preparatory with a much different perspective than the one he has today.

“I always had an interest in the U.S. Constitution and political thought, but my original major was biological science,” he said.

One night, though, his father mentioned he had heard about a new ASU program, one focused on civic and economic thought and leadership.

“We checked out the (School of Civic and Economic Thought and Leadership) website that evening and I decided to take a course,” Abbott said.

His first course at the school was CEL 100 with Professor Karen Taliaferro. 

“I was intimidated at first, but I fell in love with the Socratic seminars and with the opportunity to share my ideas. Slowly, I became more confident and pushed myself. It was a growth process,” he said.

The following semester, he took CEL 200 Great Debates in American Politics with Professor Zachary German.

“I was hooked. I switched to a major in civic and economic thought and leadership and never looked back,” he says.

Abbott graduates in spring 2022 with a Bachelor of Science in civic and economic thought and leadership and brings home the 2022 Dean’s Medal, but his journey has just begun.

In May, he moves to the University of Notre Dame campus in Indiana to begin his graduate studies in education. We talked to him about his experience at ASU, his career goals and about receiving the Dean’s Medal.

Question: How has the School of Economic Thought and Leadership impacted you?

Answer: I came in very cynical about our country, but by learning about our government, its institutions, the fragile equilibrium between the different powers, the compromises and the genius of our constitutional democracy, I gained a deep respect for it. I learned that it all relies on compromises and civil disagreement. And this made me want to help preserve it. It is our task to make it last.

Q: What is your ultimate goal?

A: My goal is to remain dedicated to being a part of the conversations to find common ground to solve the civics crisis in America. I plan on becoming an American history and civics teacher at the high school level.

Q: What do the next two years look like for you?

A: The program I’m entering at the University of Notre Dame has a teaching component. I will teach in Florida for two years during my master’s, then I intend to apply for the doctorate program in constitutional studies at the same university. 

Q: What makes the school special?

A: It feels like family. My favorite part is the (school's) community, something I never expected to find in such a large university. It is much more than I had expected. The tight community gave me the confidence to apply for fellowships, courses and opportunities.

Q: What would you say to an incoming School of Economic Thought and Leadership student?

A: The (school's) education is more than studying history. It’s more than studying political science. And it’s more than studying philosophy. It’s learning about those subject matters to find ways to make our country stronger. In essence, it combines critical thinking and analytical skills for the purpose of improving society.

Q: Your career path shows your passion for civic education. How did your professors impact you?

A: I feel immense gratitude for (the school) for making me a student, who loves to learn and grow, and receiving the Dean’s Medal is a symbolic representation of the (school) community’s faith in me.

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