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Alumni: Peter Burton

As a transfer student coming from community college, I didn’t know what to expect when I first arrived on Cal Poly’s campus. I wasn’t even sure if the major I had chosen, political science, was right for me; my academic interests tended to be all over the map, ranging from creative writing to marine biology, and a variety of subjects in between. However, it quickly became clear that I would be free to pursue what interested me most as a political science major.

In world food systems, I discovered the largely obscured network of organizations that decide which nations get what food, and when. In international relations, my interest in foreign policy grew as I learned about the undertaking nations take on to cultivate mutually beneficial relationships with other countries.

As I moved through my coursework as a political science student, I learned that much of the value I would extract from my degree had more to do with my ability to distill a complicated topic down to something that could be more easily digested. The skill that I didn’t realize I was honing was the ability to think abstractly, and to cultivate a deeper understanding of the world around me. Political science, more than anything, is the study of people. What motivates, angers, and unites us. Although I am now pursuing a Masters in Business here at Cal Poly, this ability to understand people and to think abstractly I learned from political science continues to help me in nearly every course. As I apply for full time jobs, I continue to feel armed with my political science knowledge, knowing that the skills I learned at Cal Poly are timeless.

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