Students and Alumni


Janine Barten '21

International Relations & Comparative Politics
Janine Barten graduated from the MA Political Science program in 2021 with a graduate certificate in International Leadership after coming to Boone in 2018 from the Netherlands. Janine works as a Digital Finance and Innovation Advisor with the World Savings and Retail Banking Institute and European Savings and Retail Banking Group (WSBI-ESBG) in Brussels. She recalls, "During the MA Program, I was really encouraged to develop myself in various areas, explore different fields, and to make the most out of my time at Appalachian."

Courtney Bradway '16

American Government
Bradway completed her bachelor's degree in pre-legal studies and continued her education at Appalachian through the Accelerated Admissions Program. After moving to Washington, D.C., she held positions in three congressional offices and is now director of congressional liaison in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Legislation at the Department of Health and Human Services.

Kory Cooke '22

Environmental Politics and Policy Analysis
Kory Cooke currently works as the Government Affairs Manager for the Greater Nashville REALTORS(R). Cooke is a registered lobbyist in Nashville focusing on policy around zoning and planning, development, housing access, and the real estate industry. Cooke writes: "the MAPS program gave me the skills that I use every day, from professionalism to cost-benefit analysis. The rigorous but collaborative atmosphere improved my confidence, my writing and research abilities, and my personal drive for success."

Peter DeBaugh '22

American Government
Peter DeBaugh is employed with the North Carolina General Assembly for State Senator Jay Chaudhuri, the Democratic Minority Whip of the Senate. DeBaugh recalls, "the MAPS program helped me to think critically about important issues that I'm faced with every day. It gave me the tools and skills necessary for a fast paced environment where decisions need to be made in seconds."

Dr. Summer Forester ’12

International Relations & Comparative Politics
Since earning her master's degree at Appalachian, Summer has finished her Ph.D. at Purdue University, received a Fulbright fellowship to study in Jordan and published papers in three journals: Security Dialogue, Feminist Review and Environmental Politics. She attributes much of this success to Appalachian's M.A. program and its faculty.

Connor Hughes '20 & '21

American Government
Connor Hughes currently serves as a Project Manager for Gerson Lehrman Group (GLG). Hughes works with some of the world's largest management consulting firms to design and execute surveys across a variety of subjects. Of the MAPS program, Hughes writes, "it helped me get comfortable managing priorities and deepened my critical thinking and analytical skills so that I can operate not only in the political realm, but across industries."

Dr. Justin Kirkland ’07

American Government
An associate professor of politics and policy in the University of Virginia's Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and Frank Batten School for Leadership and Public Policy, Kirkland says, "my two years at App were essential to all my educational and professional successes."

Tyler Steelman ’16

American Government
Steelman is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, specializing in American politics and political psychology. He credits his Appalachian faculty and the research he conducted under their supervision with preparing him for a career in academia.

Molly Thomas-Gregory '22

American Government
Molly Thomas-Gregory works as an Associate Project Manager for Pine Gate Renewables, an industrial-scale solar farm developer in Asheville. Thomas-Gregory recalls of the MAPS program, "it gave me hands-on experience with data and managing data...and the program effectively trained me to think critically and creatively, which allowed me to translate skills I learned within the political realm to the environmental and organizational realms."

Christina Wiegand ’13

Environmental Politics & Policy Analysis
With a background in marine biology, Wiegand came to Boone to study environmental politics. In the M.A. program, she developed policy analysis techniques and has worked for the North Carolina Division of Marine Fisheries and Marine Recreational Information Program. She is now a social scientist with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council (SAFMC).