BS Political Science (2004)
Throughout my legal education and career, the development of critical thinking skills that I underwent in the political science department at K-State has proven indispensable. Although I learned a great deal about the structure of political systems and our place in the world in Manhattan, it has been the intangible lessons I learned that prove beneficial to this day: work hard to understand opposing views; put in the effort to have a comprehensive understanding of a problem you face; resist immediate shortcuts during analysis to achieve a better long-term result.
This understanding materialized quickly. Shortly into my first year of law school at the College of William & Mary, I realized that the academic preparation I received in Waters Hall placed me on par with my fellow students who hailed from great schools all over the country. Later, as an associate attorney representing international pharmaceutical companies in high stakes tort litigation at a law firm in Washington, D.C., I found these principles applied more than ever. Through long hours, big personalities, and stressful deadlines, the lessons learned at K-State proved effective in navigating a challenging work environment.
Today I maintain a national civil litigation practice on behalf of the United States as a Trial Attorney for the Department of Justice. Sometimes I think about how my life has changed since growing up in Ottawa, Kansas, and I am grateful for the opportunities I have been given. And I know, without a doubt, that my time spent as an undergraduate political science student at K-State was instrumental in receiving them.
Jared O. Nyagol
MA Political Science (2011)
As Executive Director of APS Healthcare, Subsidiary of KEPRO, I oversee the State of California’s completion of level II evaluations for individuals admitted to Medicaid certified skilled nursing facilities that have or are suspected to have a mental illness diagnosis for the State of California’s Department of Healthcare Services. The California PASRR (Preadmission Screening and Resident Review) provides psychiatric and psychosocial examinations which become the basis on which the Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) makes mental health treatment recommendations. The ultimate goal of the level II evaluations is to assure appropriate placement and treatment for individuals identified as mentally ill who require specialized services.
After earning my M.A in Political science in 2011, I took a position with Midland Care as Director of PACE (Program of All Inclusive Care for the Elderly) before being recruited to Northern California as an Administrative Director for Sutter Health PACE (both a Provider and a Health Plan), also serving as a member of the Board of Directors of the California PACE Association, and later elected board secretary in 2012.
I then moved on to APS Healthcare, where I oversee an average of 1,500-2,500 Level II evaluations per month throughout the state of California by clinical psychologists, licensed marriage and family therapists, and physicians. For a variety of reasons, the average number of monthly evaluations is expected to increase in coming years, making my position and oversight increasingly challenging.
What prepared me for such an exciting and challenging executive position? I grew up in Kenya prior to migrating to and attending college in the United States. My K-State education has been a pillar and guide to my success. The small student/faculty ratio and customizable program allowed me to take classes not only from Political Science (International Relations Concentration) but also Public Administration where I sharpened my administrative skills and insight. In Dr. Franke’s methods course, for example, I learned how to analyze real world health care policy challenges using social science methods. This augmented and strengthened my outside of the box approach to administration and leadership. Dr. Kisangani’s demands for perfection and fluidity in analysis, thought, and writing were strenuous, but prepared me for the rigor and mental toughness often required and necessary in my leadership roles as I more often than not grapple with competing resource needs, difficult budgetary allocations and various demands in decision making. They also prepared me for the challenges of my later doctoral work.
My political science professors have been mentors to me, and their genuine concern long after graduation has left an admiration I hope to model. Dr. Johnson was so impactful that I asked her to serve on my doctoral committee long after my M.A studies. I owe my preparation, analytical perspective and drive to keep getting better to the training I received in the Kansas State Political Science Department. It has served me well in executive positions and laid the foundation for a level headed approach to my daily dealings with employees, the public, and state and federal entities in the much regulated framework of healthcare. My advice to future students is to establish goals with the ‘end’ in mind and utilize the diverse resources and opportunities the faculty possesses and department provides to your full advantage in reaching your destination. Time flies don’t waste it! I am fortunate to have had the opportunities K-State provided.
BA Political Science (1998)
As lead prosecutor for capital crimes in the Criminal Division of Kansas Attorney General Derek Schmidt, I prosecute criminal offenders throughout the state of Kansas, traveling to all corners for trials that often last up to a month.
When I get a case from Riley County, I'm immediately nostalgic and anxious to make the trip back to Manhattan. I love driving past the football stadium, having lunch in Aggieville, and making a stop at Varney's. I haven't yet had a former professor in a jury pool, but I'm sure that day will come.
After I earned my B.A. in Political Science from Kansas State in 1998, I earned my J.D. from Drake Law School in Des Moines, Iowa. I came back to Kansas and joined the Saline County Attorney's Office in Salina, Kansas. After seven years as First Assistant Saline County Attorney, I became an Assistant Attorney General in 2009.
I currently prosecute high-level crimes, including homicide, capital cases, and sexual abuse of children. I am also cross-designated as a Special Assistant United States Attorney. My courtroom highlights include a capital murder conviction in State v. Kahler, in Osage County in 2009, and State v. Seacat, a premeditated first-degree murder trial in Kingman County in 2013, resulting in conviction of a former police officer who murdered his wife. The Kingman trial was nationally televised and featured on Dateline NBC.
I grew up on a farm near Lost Springs, Kansas, and attended a small high school. At K-State, I quickly recognized that my political science classes were full of gifted students and budding leaders. I knew I would have to work hard to meet the high bar for excellence in the program. This made me a better student and tougher competitor, preparing me for the rigors of law school. My K-State education challenged me and fueled my competitive edge.
My political science professors were role models for me, distinguished experts in their field and notable leaders in their community. Their accomplishments highlighted what could be achieved beyond the classroom. Due to their examples, I devote my time to leadership roles in the legal community. I am an Associate Director on the National District Attorneys Association Board of Directors, Co-Chair of the Women Prosecutors Section, and serve as a voting member of the Kansas Sentencing Commission. I also teach trial advocacy to law students and young lawyers. In 2014, I was named a member of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy Next Generation Faculty and invited to teach at trial skills programs in Boulder, Fort Lauderdale, San Diego, San Francisco, and Seattle. In 2014, I was voted Adjunct Faculty of the Year at Washburn Law School by the students. I'm grateful that K-State gave me a model for how to make a difference in the lives and educational experience of students.
BA Political Science (2007)
When I ran for student body president in the spring semester of my junior year, I didn't sleep much – probably about three hours per night for at least six weeks. It was an understatement to say that I was exhausted pretty much all the time, and while I'm not proud of it I must admit that I fell asleep in class a time or two that semester. But the first (and only) time I fell asleep in POLSC 791 – a graduate-level political science course on Islam and the West – the late Dr. Michael Suleiman would have nothing of it.
Having taken four courses from him in route to my BA in Political Science, I was no stranger to Dr. Suleiman's expectations of excellence. But I certainly did not expect the level of disappointment he expressed in me the next day in his office while discussing the dozing off. He told me anything worth committing to was worth my best effort, and that semester I had committed to his class and the campaign and I had better give my all to both of them.
This was an influential experience in my formative years at K-State that has informed my professional career ever since, whether it be as an entrepreneur and small business owner, international climate finance consultant, academic researcher, or now as I help to manage almost $400 million in capital in two clean energy funds at the World Bank Group.
And it was representative of the experience that all the professors and the entire political science department provided throughout my time at K-State – demanding but supportive, challenging but understanding. The lessons I learned in the department have stayed with me ever since, and the education I received both inside and outside of political science classrooms prepared me well for my career over the past eight years.
Dr. Suleiman's counsel has led me to be able to say 'no' gracefully – a valuable skill in a fast-paced and demanding environment like the World Bank. As a whole, the political science curriculum and its professors helped me to hone a diverse set of skills and abilities that allowed me to thrive in the interdisciplinary masters degree I earned at Oxford University. They nurtured critical thinking skills that allowed me to start small businesses without any formal business education or training.
International and comparative political science courses encouraged me to understand other peoples' perspectives and motivations, which has aided me in everything from navigating a global workplace to negotiating contracts to investor relations. They have also helped me to communicate diplomatically and professionally when working with my colleagues in foreign governments and corporations. Taking a full course-load while also working in the department's front office on federal work study taught me the value of hard work and dedication.
Without a doubt, my time in the political science department has played a substantial role in my successes since I graduated in 2007 and I am eager to return to campus February 23-25, 2015 as part of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Young Alumni award program. And during this trip I promise I won't fall asleep in class.
BA Political Science (1999)
My political science education from Kansas State has been critically important to my career. I think the main reason is that I learned the importance of empathy in the political and business context; that is, to put myself in someone else's place (in the world of political science: a country, a political party, a religious group, or an individual leader) so I can better recognize, appreciate, and understand the thought processes and the needs that guide others' decisions and actions. Those lessons apply not just on a large geo-political scale, but in my day-to-day life as a lawyer, business owner, and community volunteer. When I truly understand the motivations and needs of another individual (opposing counsel, a concerned public citizen, a reluctant board member), I find that my negotiations for--and even just my conversations with--my clients, business partners, and colleagues are more successful.
I enjoy recalling my days with the Kansas State Department of Political Science in Waters Hall. KSU Politcal Science classes were the beginning of a wonderful journey in my life. Following graduation from Kansas State in 1999, I attended the University of Kansas School of Law, and I received my law degree in 2002. That same year, I joined the law firm of Lathrop & Gage LLP in Kansas City, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas, and I am now a partner in the firm.
I have been and remain a strong believer in the importance of a liberal arts education, and together with my bachelor of arts in political science, I received a B.A. in Modern Languages/Spanish from Kansas State. I was also honored to be accepted into Phi Beta Kappa. I would highly recommend that students in the political science department seek out opportunities to add an "arts and culture" lens to their political science education. Again, a well-developed sense of empathy can come by taking the time to learn about and appreciate another's society, history, language, literature, and culture. And whether in academics, business, the law, or your community, it's an important and valuable skill to have, to be able to truly see all of the variables in a situation or problem.
I have the privilege of representing public school districts, cities, and other governmental entities, and I serve on public boards myself, so politics and public affairs are simply parts of my daily business life. The Kansas State University Department of Political Science certainly helped me develop a critical perspective on, and a thoughtful approach to, all matters of public concern.
Master of Public Administration (2007)
BS Political Science (2005)
I was so appreciative of the type of training I received while earning my BA in Political Science from KSU, I decided to continue in the Master of Public Administration program in the department. As part of my graduate work, I was required to intern with a government agency. In my case, that internship was with the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit—a small legislative staff agency that conducts performance audits of Kansas state agencies and programs. Those audits evaluate how efficiently and effectively state government is working, and include recommendations for improvement.
While still completing my degree requirements, I was offered and quickly accepted a job with the division as an associate auditor. Much to the credit of K-State’s program and several very dedicated professors who mentored me along the way, my new job was a perfect fit for my particular talents and my educational background.
After several years, I was eventually promoted to the Deputy position within the division. In that role I work closely with Kansas legislators to help them develop audit requests, manage several audit teams, and direct our division’s IT security and data mining work. Not surprisingly, I regard my time in K-State’s BA and graduate Public Administration programs as the fundamental foundation of my career success, and I would highly recommend a career in state government (and the Legislature in particular) to any aspiring public servants.