Recent Grad Says UMass Amherst is Great
“They were the best four years of my life, hands down,” says Mike Sances ’06 (political science) of his time at UMass Amherst. “And yes, I mean academically. Every class was a challenge—and I also learned to challenge the material myself. If I could go back and pick any school, I’d go again.”
Sances likes to write, so when he came to Amherst from Cape Cod his plan was to study English. But it didn’t take him long to figure out that his true passion was writing about politics. “I never was able to take a journalism class,” he laments, “but I was very involved with the Daily Collegian as a columnist during junior and senior years. And I did end up completing an English minor.”
A self-described Anglophile since boyhood, Sances was thrilled to receive an Ansin Study Abroad Fellowship that helped him attend the Oxford Summer Seminar at Trinity College. “I was very interested in getting the English perspective on studying politics” and he was not disappointed.
“The overall atmosphere of Trinity College and Oxford was memorable,” Sances recalls. “The experience and the scenery now seem surreal. Very small classes were a definite plus, and they were excellent. I was exposed to International Law for the first time, and I took a course on British Politics 1980-2005 which, especially when compared to American politics of the same period, was very informative.” Sances says the summer in England caused him to consider the pursuit of British politics at the graduate level and international law as an occupation.
“I definitely am planning to get my PhD in political science,” Sances says, “though graduate programs in this country in British politics don’t exist. As it turns out, my research interests actually are shifting back to American politics and foreign policy. Then, I’d like to teach on the university level.” Currently, Sances is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteer in Service to America) for Social Capital Inc., a nonprofit that aims to increase civic participation in Woburn, Dorchester and Lynn, Massachusetts. “I work primarily in development and marketing,” he says, “but I think that teaching is the best way to help others understand the world around them. And there are so many things that I still wish to study.” The GREs are in Sances’ immediate future, and he expects to go to graduate school in fall 2008.
All in all, Sances has come a long way since those first tentative days on campus back in 2002. “UMass Amherst is huge, but that also means it’s a great school for everyone,” he says, when asked what advice he’d offer to prospective students. “If you don’t know what you want to do—like I didn’t my first year—you’ll be exposed to enough things that you’ll probably figure it out by your junior year, enough time to immerse yourself in the great programs offered in every field.”
November 3, 2006