News about Brand New Alumni
Five students applied to graduate school this past year, and they all got into excellent programs.
Gabi Cappo will begin a Masters Program in International Affairs at the New School in New York, where she has received the Dean's Scholarship.
Thomas Espy is in a Masters program in International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh, where he will also pursue a certificate in Russian at the distinguished CREES program.
Samantha McFarland will accept a Fulbright ETA grant in Germany, and then pursue a Masters at North Carolina - Chapel Hill's Transatlantic program.
Austin Davis has been accepted into international relations programs at the Boston University, the University of Washington and the University of Denver, and is now deciding between American University and George Washington University.
Devon Arnold will begin the Doctoral Political Science programs at the University of Houston, where she has received a generous fellowship.
Nine (and perhaps as many as eleven) Departmental students will be attending law school in the fall.
Amanda Gargus got into Georgetown, UCLA, William and Mary and Florida. She has chosen Georgetown, despite receiving generous financial aid from William and Mary, partly because she will be able to pursue human rights law there.
The remaining students got into places such as Vanderbilt, Tulane, Alabama, Belmont, and Cumberland. As many as three will attend Alabama, and as many as five will attend Cumberland.
Bo Morris has an internship with the Southern Education Foundation in Atlanta.
Jayme Cloninger is Manager of Public Policy for the human rights organization Feed the Children, in Washington DC. She had previously been campaign organizer for The Enough Project, leading their Congo Campaign and serving as a liaison to faith-based communities. Before that, she worked for Food for the Hungry. She graduated with a degree in Political Science from Samford in2012.
Sara Skelton Newell is Sr. Vice President of Agency Impact at United Way of Central Alabama. In that capacity, she is responsible for annual fund allocations and evaluation of programmatic results for more than 80 United Way partner organizations across Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker Counties. She also supervises Hands On Birmingham, a volunteer management program that became a program of United Way in 2009. She graduated with a degree in International Relations from Samford in 2001, and holds a Masters of Public Administration from UAB. Prior to assuming her current role at United Way, she worked for five years as a fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy in Los Angeles and New York City, where she was responsible for several major campaigns.
Jonathan Coley is currently completing his Ph.D. in Sociology at Vanderbilt University and serves as Editorial Associate of American Sociological Review and Book Review Editor of Work and Occupations. He recently published an article entitled "Theorizing Issue Selection in Advocacy Organizations: An Analysis of Human Rights Activism around Darfur and the Congo, 1998-2010" in the journal Sociological Perspectives. He has also co-authored articles on the Nashville civil rights movement and environmental movements in scholarly journals.Coley completed his B.A. in Political Science at Samford in 2010and his M.A. in Sociology at Vanderbilt in 2013. After finishing his Ph.D., he hopes to pursue a career in academia.
Tessa Childs teaches History at Mountain Brook High School. She graduated from Samford with a degree in Political Science and completed the Fifth Year Nontraditional education program at Samford in 2012.
Riley Barnacastle is serving as a Peace Corps volunteer in Jamaica. He specializes in education and development. He graduated from Samford with a degree in Political Science in 2011.
Jesska Cunningham is in her third year at the University of Virginia School of Law. At law school, she serves as a class representative to the Student Bar Association and to the University-wide Student Council. Her Pro Bono work has taken her to the Nashville Public Defender, the New Orleans Public Defender, and Women Enabled, Inc. in Washington DC. She also works on the Virginia Law & Business Review. In the summer of 2012, she worked in Microsoft's Legal and Corporate Affairs office in Seattle. She graduated from Samford with a degree in Political Science in 2011.
Riley Westmoreland is currently pursuing a Masters of Public Policy with a focus on Education Policy at Vanderbilt University's Peabody College. Post Samford she has also interned in Washington D.C., working for Senator Jeff Sessions (Summer 2012) and at the Heritage Foundation (Summer 2013). She graduated from Samford with a degree in Political Science in 2012.
Cameron Collins is the Chief Development Officer for the Shyira Diocese of Rwanda of the Musanze province of Rwanda. In this position, his tasks include creating and implementing a comprehensive fundraising strategy for the diocese, writing grant proposals, and overseeing donor relations. He also teaches a college preparatory class for Sonrise Academy, the Shyira Diocese's school for vulnerable children.
Jamie Gibson currently works for the Office of the Federal Public Defender in Huntsville, Alabama. He previously served as the staff counsel for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty in Washington DC, providing legal analysis on church-state issues that arise before Congress, the courts and administrative agencies.He is a member of the U.S. Supreme Court Bar and the Alabama State Bar. Gibson also worked on the House Judiciary Committee staff of Rep. Artur Davis, D-Ala. In addition to his Political Science degree from Samford, he holds a degree in Law from the University of Alabama, where he was honored for outstanding study of Constitutional Law. Jamie won the prestigious Truman Scholarship in2002, and currently sits on the Truman Scholars Association Board of Directors.
Eric Motley joined the Aspen Institute (Washington, DC) in 2007 as a Vice President and the Managing Director of the Henry Crown Fellows Program. He also currently serves as the Executive Director of the Aspen-Rockefeller Foundation’s Commission to Reform the Federal Appointments Process. In 2003, he became Special Assistant to President George W. Bush for Presidential Personnel, where he managed the appointment process in the White House for over 1,200 presidentially-appointed advisory board and commission positions. He initially joined the White House staff as Deputy Associate Director, Office of Presidential Personnel in 2001 at the age of 27 immediately after receiving his Ph.D.
In October 2006 he published his first volume of poetry Luminaria and is a contributing writer to US Airways Magazine as an essayist. Eric earned his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Philosophy from Samford University in 1996. As a Rotary International Ambassadorial Scholar at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, he earned a Master of Letters in International Relations and a Ph.D. in International Relations as the John Steven Watson Scholar.
Rebecca McLain Hodges
Rebecca McLain Hodges is a Ph.D. student in Cultural Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Her dissertation focuses on the topic of Religious Pluralism and Citizenship Education in the Middle East. She also currently serves as a Fulbright Research Fellow, as an Adjunct Professor at University of Missouri-St. Louis, and as a Teaching Assistant at Washington University. After graduating from Samford in December2004 with a BA in International Relations, she worked with WorldVision, a Christian nongovernmental development organization. She then received an MA in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies at Washington University. During the summer of 2009, she won a State Department Critical Language Scholarship for Advanced Arabic in Alexandria, Egypt. The photo is of Rebecca with a camel at Saint Catherine's Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai in Egypt. During Spring 2010, Rebecca studied at the graduate school of the Sorbonne in Paris, with the Politics, Pluralism, and Religion Institute.
At the time of his tragic and accidental death in August, 2011Mateusz Tuniewicz was Regional Director for the Asia-Pacific with Franciscans International [FI], a faith-based organization in Bangkok,Thailand. FI supports the wide and disparate network of Franciscan grassroots organizations worldwide at the UN level, offering advocacy, political representation, and technical assistance. He previously had worked for a wide variety of international justice and developmental organizations in Asia, Africa, and Latin America.Mateusz received a degree in International Relations from Samford in 1996, and a Masters in international affairs from American University in Washington DC. The native of Gdansk, Poland, is survived by wife Ana-Karin Jatfors, son Emil and daughter Mila.
Jennifer Wilmore completed her Master of International Affairs with a concentration in human rights at Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs in May 2012. She is currently working for the World Justice Project in Washington DC,which does research, convening, and grant making on advancing the rule of law worldwide. Since graduating from Samford, she has worked for Bread for the World, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship,and Refuge and Hope International (a development group founded by Samford alumni). Her development work has taken her to Europe,Central Africa and Central America, where she led a variety of community projects. She has also engaged in political work in Washington, with a special emphasis on legislative advocacy for Christian evangelical support of the Millennium Development goals.She graduated from Samford with a degree in Political Science in2007.
Myra Miller is a Senior Vice President at the Winston Group in Washington DC. There, she works with House and Senate Republicans on strategic planning, communications and policy issues. Her experience also includes work with associations and businesses on issues such as health care, economic policy, energy, intellectual property and security. She is a member of the European Ideas Network, and has advised center-right parties throughout Europe. She frequently provides political commentary for television and talk radio. Prior to joining the Winston Group, Miller served as Political Director for the Alabama Republican Party.
After graduating from Samford with a degree in Political Science in 1996, Miller received a Masters degree in International Studies from the University of Cambridge.
Andrew Brasher is an Associate at the Birmingham law firm Bradley, Arant, Boult and Cummings, and a member of the firm's Litigation and Appellate Litigation Practice Groups. Andrew graduated from Harvard Law School in 2006, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review and was awarded the Victor Brudney Prize for the best student paper on corporate governance. After graduation, Andrew clerked for Judge William H. Pryor Jr. on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Since joining Bradley Arant, he has represented clients in briefing before numerous state and federal courts, including the United States Supreme Court, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Alabama Supreme Court. He has also presented oral argument in federal district courts and the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. A recent article he co-authored discussing Alabama appellate practice has been recommended to all members of the Alabama Bar by the Justices of the Alabama Supreme Court.
Andrew graduated from Samford with a degree in International Relations in 2002.
Sam Garrison is an Assistant State Attorney in Jacksonville, Florida, where he serves as a Senior Prosecutor in the Homicide and Major Crimes Division. He is a past Chair of Clay county’s Task Force on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Sam received his law degree from the University of Illinois in 2001. He graduate from Samford with a degree in International Relations in 1998. Sam lives with his wife, Gayle Simpson Garrison, who also graduated from Samford in 1998, in Orange Park, Florida. They have two children, Mary Beth (5) and Jane (2).
Kristen Straw is a Program Management Specialist for WorldVision in their Humanitarian and Emergency Affairs department. She works mainly out of Ethiopia, managing US government-funded grants for Somali and Sudanese refugee response projects. She spent the years 2007 through 2009 in Ethiopia with the Peace Corps, and in2012 received a Masters Degree in International Development from American University in Washington DC. During the summer of 2010,she worked in Washington for the International Rescue Committee, a human rights and development organization. She graduated from Samford in 2007 with a degree in International Relations.
Stanka Ilkova currently works as a Sales Operations Manager for Google in New York City. After graduating from Samford, she received a Masters degree in German and European Studies from Georgetown's School of Foreign Service in 2003, and then worked for Marsh & McLennan's Political Risk Insurance practice in Washington DC. In 2008, she began her studies at Columbia University in New York, where she received her MBA in May 2010.Prior to Google, she worked at the Boston Consulting Group's Washington DC office. She graduated in 2001 from Samford with a degree in International Relations, where she played on Samford's women's tennis team. She is a native of Bulgaria.
From 2006 to 2010, Patrick Crandall served as an Intelligence Officer in the United States Marine Corps. He did two tours in Iraq serving on a Military Transition Team where he trained, mentored, advised, and operated with the newly formed Iraqi Army and acted as a liaison between Coalition and Iraqi Forces. Upon the expiration of his four year commitment, Patrick left the USMC to take a position at his church, The Fields in Carlsbad, CA, and to pursue graduate studies at Westminster Seminary in California.
Patrick graduated from Samford in 2006 with a degree in Political Science.
Gilbert Dickey is clerking for Judge William H. Pryor Jr. on the Eleventh Circuit of the United States Court of Appeals. He completed his law degree at the University of Chicago in 2012,where he served as membership coordinator for the University's chapter of the Federalist Society. In the summer of 2010, he worked for the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Alabama in Birmingham. Gilbert graduated with a Political Science degree from Samford in 2009.
Brickey LeQuire completed his Doctorate with the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago, spending a year as a Bradley Visiting Fellow at Wolfson College, Cambridge University in England, while he finished his dissertation. His fellowship was funded by the Witherspoon Institute. He currently teaches for the Department of Political Science and the Core Curriculum at Samford. Brickey graduated from Samford in 2002 with a degree in Political Science.