After a decade in the workforce, Andre Ross decided it was time for a major life change.
He had graduated from high school in 2003 and attended Sam Houston State University the following fall semester. Shortly thereafter, he began working in the marketing industry. But marketing was just a job to him – not a profession he was excited about. So, in 2014 he began attending the University of Houston to pursue a career path closer to his true passion - political science.
“I decided to start over again and pursue something else – I always felt that my rightful place was in pursuing ways in which we can improve society,” he says.
Ross has done so well in his new area of study that he has been invited to attend the Ralph Bunche Institute at Duke University this summer. This nationally competitive program is designed to enhance diversity within the discipline of political science.
“Andre is a great fit for this program: like many UH students, he has worked his way through school, and therefore has already explored other career options. He has figured that he really enjoys doing research, and that he wants his career to include engaging in, and influencing, public policy debates,” says Dr. Susan Scarrow, professor and chair of political science.
The journey to this point hasn’t been easy for Ross - being an older, non-traditional student has had its own set of challenges.
“Non-traditional students have a hardship in finding space to be involved in extracurricular opportunities,” says Ross.
Nevertheless, he has found ways to make the most of his college experience. He participated in the Civic Houston Internship Program, a program that offers government internships to University of Houston students each fall and spring semester.
“I was assigned to political consulting/ PR firm here in Houston called Outreach Strategists,” says Ross. “I knew that it was imperative that I got a feel for how much the market demands political consulting. Also, I wanted to gain a sense of whether I should fall towards finding work that was more practitioner-oriented or work that was more research-oriented.”
His experience as an intern, in addition to attending the RBSI, will allow Ross to continue to narrow his interest area as he moves forward in his education and career.
The RBSI is an annual, intensive five-week program held at Duke University. It is designed to introduce to the world of doctoral study in political science those undergraduate students from under-represented racial and ethnic groups or those interested in broadening participation in political science and pursuing scholarship on issues affecting under-represented groups. Participants in the RBSI are drawn from a competitive national applicant pool. Each summer, up to 20 students are admitted to the program.
“By the conclusion of my time in the program, I want to develop a sense of how far I can take research in influencing international policy,” says Ross. “Dr. Bunche, the inspiration behind the program, realized practical applications to his research. I, too, would like to first cultivate my interests within an interdisciplinary approach while applying these theories to resolve real world problems.”
Ultimately, Ross hopes to become a college professor.
“This will allow me to do what I do best, convey knowledge to people, cultivate my talent in writing, and exploring ideas that can contribute towards helping underprivileged communities throughout the U.S. and developing countries throughout the world,” he says.
Dr. Scarrow says, “Andre has the ability and the commitment to make a real difference in this area. If his career path leads him into college teaching, I predict that he will be an effective and inspiring professor.”