Graduating Senior Spotlight: Q&A with Jackson Gunvalson

A headshot of a man wearing glasses and a suit

Hometown: Alexandria, MN

Major: Political Science

Minor: Communication Studies 

Activities you are involved in: Speech Team

Did you participate in any student organizations, Learning Abroad programs, research or internship opportunities, or other related experiences? How have you learned from them?

I have been a part of the University of Minnesota Speech Team all four years here. The Speech Team taught me so many valuable skills and connected me with so many wonderful people and friends. Although I will always have room to grow and improve my public speaking skills, speech has allowed me to be more confident speaking in class and giving presentations. Without it, I would not be able to speak off the cuff as well and I would not have met so many wonderful people who have taught me important lessons. 

Speech has also been an open space for people to express themselves and advocate for marginalized communities. Hearing these messages and speeches from different people and perspectives has helped me become a more well-rounded person. 

What is your favorite class that you took in CLA? Is there a professor that you particularly enjoyed working with? How did they prepare you for the next phase of your life?

My favorite class I took in CLA was Quantitative Political Analysis with Jane Sumner. Jane was one of the most supportive professors during the pandemic and online classes. 

This class taught me important writing and technical skills that I still carry with me. Doing math and writing code for a political science class seemed daunting at first, yet with Jane's and the TA's instruction, it went much better than expected. 

I am thankful for this class. For all the papers I wrote in other classes, this one most effectively prepared me for handling a paper that requires breaking down a topic piece by piece.

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