ASU senior obtains master's degree after NCAA granted additional spring season

November 9, 2022

A combination of professional goals and being a student-athlete led Maria Villanti to consider receiving an online Master of Arts in global security from Arizona State University

While COVID-19 cut Villanti’s junior year lacrosse season short, the NCAA granted all spring athletes an extra year of eligibility. Maria Villanti Download Full Image

Villanti knew she wanted to continue her lacrosse career, so she worked to complete her bachelor’s degree in political science and continued her academic journey studying global security.

The thought of getting a second degree while playing was appealing. I had heard and read about the (global security) program during my undergrad,” Villanti said. “Based on the (program’s) reputation and my career goals, it was an easy choice to apply.

Villanti’s undergrad experience allowed her to expand her understanding of how politics and security intersect, which the graduate program would go on to explore in depth. 

Receiving her master’s degree has been insightful, Villanti said, because she is able to tailor her academic trajectory to her specific interests. 

I am super thankful for the program. It has taught me to critically think about a concept that I once thought was much simpler,” Villanti said.

“The professors and staff are intelligent and experienced in a variety of security fields, which has made for a great learning experience.” 

Villanti appreciates the flexibility of graduate school. She feels that she has the freedom to design her academia, which has only amplified her passion for global security. 

She attributes her successes in the School of Politics and Global Studies to attending events hosted by subject-matter experts and conversing with faculty outside of the classroom. 

“Not everyone can say they have learned from a world-renowned staff,” Villanti said. 

By capitalizing on connections, Villanti has been able to explore her interests in the professional workplace by acting as a global security watch officer for Boeing. 

Villanti’s responsibilities in the position include monitoring worldwide events and identifying events with potential impact to Boeing operations, assets and personnel. She also practices briefing executives and facilitating crisis management. 

“The (global security) program posted the job announcement on the weekly job opportunities page,” Villanti said. “The job description and the company were really attractive. I applied, and the rest is history.” 

While she would like to eventually become a policy or intelligence analyst, Villanti is satisfied with her current role and the experience it has provided her with. 

Villanti is grateful for her additional time spent at ASU as it allowed her to be open to change and maximize her relations with peers and professors.

“These are connections that will prove invaluable through time,” Villanti said. 

Student Journalist, School of Politics and Global Studies


ASU senior found passion for democracy after taking political sciences courses for enjoyment

November 9, 2022

David Lowdermilk made his decision to come to Arizona State University as a freshman without political science in mind. 

After taking a handful of introduction-level political science courses, Lowdermilk applied to the School of Politics and Global Studies with a newfound passion for democracy and civil liberties.  David Lowdermilk Download Full Image

Upon his admittance into the program, Lowdermilk worked to redefine his academic trajectory by becoming involved in the school, collaborating with peers and gaining mentorship from professors. 

Lowdermilk’s time as a Junior Research Fellow was spent assisting Margaret Hanson in her ongoing research project that focuses on judicial corruption in post-Soviet nations. 

During this process, Lowdermilk was tasked with analyzing and summarizing intensive research papers regarding the concept and occurrences of neopatrimonialism and personalism in governing authorities. 

"DJ and his partner, Hannah Mangold, helped me with the challenging task of organizing and synthesizing articles on a topic relevant to my research. They did an excellent job, and I enjoyed working with them,” said Hanson, an assistant professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies. 

Capitalizing on collaboration, Lowdermilk and his partner developed a comprehensive literature review detailing the findings between the relations of these variations of social-political hierarchy and the degree of corruption within their judicial system. 

“Alongside exercising my research and writing abilities as a Junior Fellow, I also gained an enhanced global awareness involving a profession I aspire to participate in,” Lowdermilk said. 

Hanson provided Lowdermilk not only with ongoing guidance and expertise, but acted as an inspiration for him to pursue his passions. 

“Dr. Hanson was an inspirational and caring professor to work with,” Lowdermilk said. “I am extremely thankful for my time with her.” 

During his time at ASU, Lowdermilk has been able to gain experiences in the workplace that help sharpen his skillset as he prepares for graduation. 

As he looks to expand his knowledge in the legal field, Lowdermilk works as a litigation file clerk and receptionist at May, Potenza, Baran and Gillepsie, P.C.

This experience has given Lowdermilk a perspective of the legal system from a law firm point of view. His role within the company has challenged his problem-solving abilities by working directly with urgent and sensitive legal matters. 

“I believe that my time at MPBG has helped me immensely in preparing me for my future endeavors as I know when I join the legal profession one day, I will already understand how important it is to be attentive, personable and confident to succeed,” Lowdermilk said. 

Lowdermilk also took advantage of on-campus opportunities, including acting as president of the Undergraduate Law Association, where he initiated academic developmental workshops, provided members with networking and LSAT opportunities and helped develop bylaws. 

According to Lowdermilk, the most important role in this position was being able to contribute to maintaining a club culture of high ambition. 

Lowdermilk says he credits the School of Politics and Global Studies for its array of opportunities and its ability to connect students with fellow peers, staff and potential employers.

Student Journalist, School of Politics and Global Studies