Political Science Profiles

Meet the Political Science graduate alumni. Read below to learn about their education experience and service as a Trinity Fellow at Marquette University.

Ashlie Benson

Trinity Fellow Class of 2019
Graduate Program: Political Science
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): AmeriCorps; 2015-2017; College Possible; Milwaukee, WI
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: International Studies, Pepperdine University
Trinity Agency Placement: City Year Milwaukee 

More about Ashlie

Service Experience

I almost never finished college due to financial constraint, familial distress, lack of community, etc. My professors and university staff stepped up and ensured I not only graduated on time (early, in fact), but also with as little debt as possible. They supported my academics and guided me through the FAFSA / scholarship process to gain more financial support. Because of them, I graduated college. I knew there were many students over the country who 1) struggled with similar unfamiliar systems and 2) did not have a small, private university ready to ensure I didn’t slip through the cracks. I wanted to be that support for college students, which is how I found College Possible.

College Possible’s mission is to support low-income, first generation students get to and through college. I served as an AmeriCorps member at Vincent High School in Milwaukee, WI where I support 40 juniors with ACT, college admission processes and resume building. I am still close with my students and, in fact, two of them served with me as AmeriCorps members when I was a Trinity Fellow at City Year Milwaukee!

My first year of service we had a Trinity Fellow. When he transitioned I told my boss, “I want his job.” Bold, I know. But, because of that I was able to gain experience in our External Relations department and learn more about the Trinity Fellowship. I knew I wanted to go to graduate school after service and was excited that Trinity exists.

With my two years of service in Milwaukee, I gained knowledge of the city, its community members and leaders. I wanted to continue investing in a city that grew to be home. I also did not want to take time off the workplace while being a student. Trinity allowed me to do several things at once: grow academically, professionally and personally. It ended up being a tremendous fit because I was able to get involved with Marquette University through my classes, the Academic Senate, and the MUAA mentorship program while also being involved in the Milwaukee community through volunteering and my placement(s). I’m actually unsure which was more formative, my AmeriCorps service or my Trinity Fellowship. They are both incredibly important to who I am today.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
Trinity has helped me grow in so many ways. Professionally, I learned how to communicate more effectively with different leaders – whether that is a direct supervisor or Board of Director. Personally, I have continued to learn ways in which I can be part of – and step back when necessary – a more equitable community.

What was it like to study and work in Milwaukee?
I have not lived in one place as an adult as I have lived in Milwaukee. It has become home in every sense, and I am so happy I was able to continue my education professionally and academically here. Milwaukee is COLD, but one gets used to it. Being in school helped get through the winter months because I could not simply go home and sleep in the evenings. It helped being in classes with others and having assignments others had. It kept me on top of my social and academic life.

Working in Milwaukee has always been a great experience. Personally, I have found everyone to be incredibly open to guidance and mentorship. We want our community to grow together rather than being a zero-sum game, and I have consistently seen instances of that throughout my time in Milwaukee.

What have been some highlights or accomplishments during the fellowship?
One of my papers turned into an amazing experience of community involvement and engagement! Another Trinity Fellow and I conducted original research on two things we are passionate about: nonprofits and policy. Our findings were eagerly welcomed to the community, and we had several people asking us to present our findings to the public. We presented at 7 events, including MU’s Community Engagement symposium. It was exhilarating! I learned so much about the nonprofit community, and it actually played a big role in what my title/role after Trinity would be.

What does it mean to you to be a part of the Trinity Fellows community?
Being part of a committed group of people who are actively engaged and front-and-center of positive action in creating a more equitable society. We are imperfect, but we are constantly seeking out ways to be involved and grow personally.

Plans After Graduation
Where do you see yourself after graduation?
In the long-term, I have many goals centered on creating more equitable policies for communities. Whether that is in a governmental agency as a staffer, an elected official or leadership in a different arena I am unsure, but I strongly believe I will continue working toward empowering Milwaukee.

Currently, I proudly serve as the Development Manager at City Year Milwaukee where I did my second year as a Trinity Fellow. I am excited to continue working alongside the young people in Milwaukee who dedicate a year of service to empower Milwaukee Public Schools scholars.

How will you apply what you have learned through this experience?
There are a million ways to apply what one learns during their Fellowship! For me, I constantly use the skills I learned through my placement(s). From effective ways to communicate with a team member with different style to having difficult conversations, I feel my time as a Trinity Fellow prepared me to apply techniques to be a better communicator.

Favorite Thing(s) About Milwaukee
La Masa, the lake, renting a pontoon on Fourth of July, festival season, Bucks games, the People, Bridge the City podcast

Jodi Lemmer

Trinity Fellow Class of 2018
Graduate Program: M.A. Political Science (2016-2018)
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): Peace Corps-Zambia (2014-2016); ACTS Housing (2016), Nonprofit Center of Milwaukee (2017), Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee (2018)
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: B.S. Community Health Education (University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, 2009-2014)
Trinity Agency Placement: Housing Authority of the City of Milwaukee

More about Jodi

Service Experience

I was inspired to serve because of the work of the Peace Corps and how they offered an opportunity to help others in places where help can be hard to find. My experience was very meaningful and impacted all aspects of my life and outlook on everything. I was attracted to the Trinity program because of its social justice mission and its location in my hometown. The program was the right fit for me because of its purpose of sculpting social justice-oriented leaders for urban landscapes right in my hometown where strong, skilled leaders are highly needed.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
The Trinity Fellows program bestowed a great gift upon me in allowing me to attain my Master's degree. I would have otherwise never been able to benefit from a Marquette education or any higher education past my Bachelor's degree. The program has truly changed the course of my life in the long-term, similar to how the Peace Corps did. In addition, I've been able to expand my work experience and grow my network here in Milwaukee in preparation for my career. I loved studying and working in Milwaukee and being able to be close to my family. An accomplishment I would directly attribute to the Trinity fellowship program is being able to attend Marquette and being recruited for my dream job a month before I even graduated. I would not have been considered for the position without my graduate degree in Political Science, my attendance at Marquette to link me to MU alumni, or my work experiences through the fellowship program. I cannot extend my gratitude far enough for what Trinity has made possible. To me, to be a part of the Trinity Fellows community means to be of a bigger heart, a stronger will, and a deeper conviction; to know that things are hard like everyone else, but willing to fight for justice regardless; to be compassionate and kind; to be a different, and better, breed of leadership.

Plans After Graduation
Before my graduation takes place, I will be starting a full-time position as Legislative Assistant to Alderman Robert J. Bauman of the Fourth District of the City of Milwaukee. My coursework through political science and social justice issues go hand-in-hand to directly impact the work that I will do downtown in City Hall.

Favorite Thing(s) About Milwaukee
Family, friends, the seasons, views of the city at night, Leon's Custard, Conejito's Mexican Restaurant, arts scene, and the diverse culture.

Kailyn Kenney

Trinity Fellow Class of 2018
Graduate Program: Political Science
Full-time Service Organization(s), Years Served, Location(s): Nuestros Pequeños Hermanos, 2014-2015, Honduras, C.A.
Undergraduate Degree, Undergraduate Institution: Biology, B.S., Behavioral Neuroscience Minor, University of Portland, OR
Trinity Agency Placement: Alliance for Strong Families and Communities

More about Kailyn

Service Experience

I was inspired to serve in order to have a positive impact on the world by striving towards a vision beyond what myself alone could accomplish. I also wanted a personal growth, leadership development, and cultural competency enhancing experience.

I was attracted to apply for the Trinity Fellows program because of the professional development aspect of the job placement experience. I was excited about doing work that is place-based and grounded in learning more about urban politics. I was also much less nervous moving to a city I had never even visited knowing that I had a built-in community of friends and professional connections waiting for me.

Trinity Fellowship Experience

The Trinity Fellows program has helped me grow tremendously as a professional and as a leader. I am more confident expressing my views in the workplace and am more comfortable leaning into conflict through productive conversations that reach across viewpoints and perspectives. I feel that I am now more equipped to be an advocate for equity in the workplace and in my community.

My experience studying and working in Milwaukee was vastly improved by the low cost-of-living. I have enjoyed getting to know Milwaukee over the last few years and realizing just how small and close-knit the communities within the city are.

Some highlights from my time in the fellowship include: earning an outstanding on my Masters comprehensive exam, writing policy input on behalf of my organization for the Department of Education, and making life-long friends.

To me, being a part of the Trinity Fellows community means being a part of a community that is alike in spirit but diverse in thought. It means being a part of a community that not only makes you stronger but challenges you to grow in unexpected ways.

Plans After Graduation
I see myself working for local government in Milwaukee after graduation. Milwaukee has come to feel like a second home.

I will leverage the leadership and project management skills that I gained at my work placement along with the knowledge of urban challenges, opportunities, and political concerns that I learned in my academic program.

Favorite Thing(s) About Milwaukee
The lake, Free outdoor music in the summer, the friends and colleagues I’ve gained from the Trinity Fellows program. 

Joe Struble

Trinity Fellow Class of 2010
Graduate Program: MA, Political Science
Undergraduate Degree, Institution: University of Texas at Austin
Full-time Service Experience, Years Served, Location: Peace Corps, 2004-2006, Togo
Trinity Nonprofit Agency: Badger Association of the Blind, Communications Coordinator

More about Joe

Service Experience

In the summer of 2004, I learned that my Peace Corps assignment would be in Togo, in West Africa. I was assigned to the Girls’ Education and Empowerment project, which has two main goals: building community support for girls’ education and helping young women to develop self-confidence and a mindset to succeed in a society that often treats them as second-class citizens. Togo was the first country in which the Peace Corps implemented a project of this type, and because of its success, projects modeled after it have been started in other African countries.

My time in Togo was enriched by the people around me. Many of my colleagues were well educated and motivated. Their enthusiasm, intelligence and patience enabled us to combine our talents and learn from one another. As my proficiency in French and understanding of Togolese culture grew, I expanded the scope and complexity of the projects I took on, moving from teaching students to training teachers, from leading projects to teaching colleagues how to design and run them, and from struggling to read French to translating documents for the African Union.

Trinity Fellowship Experience
I searched a long time for a program that offered a mixture of scholarship and service. By participating in the Trinity Fellows Program and studying political science at Marquette, I envisioned that I would gain a fuller understanding of how our political system operates and what strategies work in overcoming obstacles to lasting social change.

Studying political science at Marquette has expanded my knowledge of ways in which politics and law interact and the conflicting pressures and ideas that influence decision making. In my work at the Badger Association of the Blind and Visually Impaired I participated in management decision making during the organization’s merger and transition period. My day-to-day work has included managing our community outreach efforts, editing our newsletter, updating our Website and helping with fundraising efforts. Trinity Fellows has been an invaluable experience that has helped me to grow both personally and professionally.

Plans after graduation
I plan to attend law school or work at a nonprofit organization in Texas.

Current Position
Corporate Transactional Attorney, Strasburger & Price LLP, San Antonio, TX