Political Science in First Person
Fascinated by politics from a young age, Monica Delgado came to the University of Minnesota itching to make a direct impact on the world. So when she heard about a political science course that would allow her to intern for a Minnesota state senator for credit, she jumped at the opportunity. This experience opened her eyes to the ways in which a community operates behind the scenes and inspired her to major in political science. Since then, Delgado has thrown herself into an array of diverse political science courses and engaging experiences outside of the classroom. Delgado spent a semester studying in Washington, D.C. as well as cities in India, South Africa, and Brazil, and she’s currently conducting research alongside members of department faculty. As of now, Delgado hopes to someday be a professor in an area like constitutional law, and inspire students in the same way that her professors have inspired her. The knowledge and perspective she has gained as a political science student will be invaluable assets to her as she works towards this dream.
As an intern for State Senator Kari Dziedzic, Delgado helped represent the district that includes the University of Minnesota’s campus. Alongside responsibilities like interacting with constituents and stakeholders, her directed internship was supplemented by readings and assignments. This mix provided her with unique insight into how legislation happens in her own community. Delgado says that her internship gave her a chance to see the practical implications of her coursework in action. “The course gave me a holistic view of what the legislature does and who they serve,” she says.
Last summer, Delgado had the chance to build on her experiences with local government as a communications intern for Minneapolis law firm Smith Partners. Her work focused on a partnership between local government and businesses in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Through this job, Delgado learned more about a community served by State Senator Dziedzic, but this time her role put her at the intersection between the private and public sectors. She says that “getting to see things from a more ‘on the ground’, direct standpoint” was a valuable experience.
Currently, much of Delgado’s attention is focused on a research project she’s working on with professor Lisa Hilbink to study citizen perceptions of and engagement with the judicial system in Latin America. Most recently, she has been involved in reading and reviewing literature that relates to institutional legitimacy. Her team hopes to shed some light on the ways in which inequalities, citizen perceptions of judicial systems, and citizen use of judicial systems interact on individual and aggregate levels in Chile and Colombia. Delgado says that she’s enjoyed learning more about the research methods and what goes into getting a collaborative project like this one off the ground.
What does Delgado see as the value of her political science education? “Politics and the the ways in which people organize themselves have an influence on everything,” she says. Through her education and experiences, Delgado has gained insight into how state, local, federal, and international political institutions interact to make decisions that affect us every day. “An understanding of politics lends itself to an understanding of how the world works.”