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Alumni Spotlight

David Sollenberger, '10

My name is David Sollenberger and I graduated in the fine class of 2010. At the moment, I'm in a Ph.D program at the Catholic University of America for Political Theory, a destination I arrived at via a route both circuitous and random. 

My Juniata degree was actually in Secondary Education Social Studies, which was a great life plan when I started college in 2006; not so much in 2010. Due to that whole "financial crisis" thing, I found, upon graduation that school districts weren't really hiring new social studies teachers, and, since I got married right after graduation, I didn't have the option of wandering up to Alaska to pursue elusive teaching jobs.

Luckily, my wife got a job in Washington DC, so we moved, and I ended up getting a job working for the Architect of the Capitol. It sounds fancy, but really I just wandered around Capitol Hill all day inspecting security check points for maintenance issues. Ok. Never mind. It was cool, I had a sweet Capitol Hill ID badge and everything. Unfortunately, there wasn't much chance for advancement, so I started looking into graduate programs. While I love history, my undying passion since high school has really been political theory (which turns out to be nothing more than a specific kind of history when you think about it), and I figured that, since I was in the capital of the United States, I might as well do politics for graduate school, and here I am.

As for how my JC History education prepared me for this, I'd call it invaluable. What I learned in the History program at Juniata more or less touches everything I do in graduate school. As far as I'm concerned, the political thinkers and their philosophies that I study are not comprehensible without first understanding something about the time period they lived in, the culture that produced them, &c. Without a solid basis of historical knowledge, I don't believe I could be studying what I do. I've also found that the department's rigorous standards for researching and writing papers prepared me well for grad school, which helps when the entire grade in a class is based on one research paper.