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Department of Political and Global Affairs

Spotlight on Graduates

Tandra Martin

Tandra Martin (2015)

Tandra Martin graduated with a 4.0 GPA in International Relations. During her time at MTSU, she excelled academically and in the community. She completed an internship at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington D.C. and the Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce, and studied abroad in Costa Rica and Israel.  On campus, she seved  as a Blue Elite Tour Guide and a Student Ambassador. She also tutored students at the Hispanic Family Center in Murfreesboro and held positions on the board of the Martin Luther King, Jr. Scholarship Fund. She received the MTSU Community Service Award and the Tennessee Higher Education Commission’s Harold Love Outstanding Community Involvement Award. A finalist for the Rhodes Scholarship, Tandra was named a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow, received a David L. Boren Scholarship to study Arabic and Islamic political and society in Morocco, and Fulbright Scholarship to study in South Africa. In 2015, she received the institution’s most pretigious academic honor: The Presidents Award.

Joseph (Davis) Thompson

Joseph (Davis) Thompson (2015)

Joseph (Davis) Thompson graduated with a 4.0 GPA with a double major in Political Science and Mass Communications. Throughout his time at MTSU, Davis participated in and eventually took on  leadership roles in both Mock Trial and Moot Court, winning a number of team and individual awards. Davis was selected as a fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. He also interned at the Tennessee legislature, in the offices of Congressman Jim Cooper and Steve Cohen, and interned in the office of first lady Michelle Obama. Davis completed an independent research project under the mentorship of Jeff Rosenberh, a former director of National Public Radio. His Honor’s thesis centered on political asylum in the US. His academic achievements were recognized with the Drue Smith Statewide Society of Professional Journalist Scholarship, a finalist for a Truman Scholarship, and a Fulbright Scholarship to study in the Slovak Republic in 2015. Davis received the Department’s Norman Parks Award and Meritorious Service Awards for Mock Trial and Moot Court, and won the Provost’s Award, the second highest academic honor given to an MTSU student.

Nissi Monsegue

Nissi Monsegue (2015)

An IR major, Nissi Monsegue excelled while at MTSU, taking advantage of a range of opportunities. She served on the Model UN team, interned at the Tennessee State Legislature, studied abroad in China and Israel, and worked with the UN Student Alliance to raise awareness of sex trafficking in the US. In recognition of her remarkable determination, her sacrafices and her contributions to the community, Nissi was awarded the University’s Robert C. LaLance Jr. Achievement Award in 2015.

She is shown here with a group of children in China.

Samantha Farish

Samantha Farish (2014)

Samantha Farish completed a double major in Political Science and Psychology. Active in Mock Trial and Moot Court, Samantha taught high school students as part of a summer program at Stanford, interned at the Tennessee State Legislature, and was selected as a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. In 2014, she received the Department’s Norman Parks Award and Meritorious Service Awards for Mock Trial and Moot Court. After graduating, Samantha entered George Washington University’s College of Law.

Adam Emerson

Adam Emerson (2012)

Adam Emerson graduated in 2012 with a double major in Psychology and International Relations and a minor in Russian Studies. During his time at MTSU, he traveled and studied in Moscow and Prague. He received the Phi Kappa Phi Emerging Scholars Award, the MTSU Provost’s Award, and a Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship in Russia. Adam is currently completing his Ph.D. in Political Science at Washington State University with a special focus on political pyschology. 

The picture is from his journey to Prague in 2011.

Lawrence Harrington

Lawrence Harrington (1974)

A graduate of the International Relations program, Larry Harrington went on to study law at Vanderbilt. In a long and distinguished career, Mr Harrington clerked for Hon. John T. Nixon, the US District Judge for Middle District of Tennessee and served as legal counsel with a leading New York-based public finance law firm, Hawkins, Delafield, and Wood. Embarking on a political career, he served as political advisor to the Democratic Senate majority and counsel, senior staff to Al Gore during his tenure in Congress. He also worked on various election campaigns for Al Gore. Mr. Harrington served as a member of the Presidential Transition Teams in 2008 and 1992 for Multilateral Finance Institutions (IDB, NADBank, World Bank) and Bilateral trade programs. He was appointed by President Clinton and twice confirmed by the State as U.S. Executive Director and Alternate Director of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Inter-American Investment Corporation, serving as the US Representative of the IDB in Mexico from 2004-2008. More recently, he served as the Chief Policy Deputy to the Attorney General for the State of Tennessee. He is currently a Public Policy Scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, a faculty affiliate with Vanderbilt’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS), and consultant. 

Sam H. Edwards

Sam H. Edwards (1972)

A 1972 graduate of Curry Peacock’s program in public administration, Sam H. Edwards is the executive director and chief legal counsel of the Greater Nashville Regional Council. Following MTSU, Mr. Edwards obtained a Masters degree from the University of Tennessee and a law degree from the Nashville School of Law. In 2014, he was awarded the “Joseph I. Mulligan, Jr. Distinguished Public Service Award” by the International Municipal Lawyers Association (IMLA): a non-profit of US and Canadian city and county attorneys. As he recently and so graciously noted: “This was a career started within the halls of the Political Science Department and an award made possible by a pursuit of public service instilled in me by my time at MTSU.”

Whitney Flatt

Whitney Flatt (2014)

After graduating summa cum laude in the spring of 2014 (IR Major, Spanish and Agriculture minors), Whitney Flatt began a one year assignment in Bungu, Tanzania as a Project Coordinator (PC) for the 2Seeds Network, a D.C.-based non-profit that promotes food and income security via human capital development.While at MTSU, Whitney helped to organize and coordinate the UN Student Alliance, served on the Department’ Student Advisory Council, spent a semester in D.C. on the Washington Center Program where she interned with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, was an active participant in Model UN, traveled on study abroad programs to Honduras and Israel, and attended a conference on European politics in Prague. Whitney also presented a scholarly paper “Famine in the USSR: Genocide or Political Negligence?”at the 11th biennial International Holocaust Studies Conference on the MTSU campus in 2013, and. contributed to the CSIS report “Pathways to Productivity: The Role of GMOs for Food Security in Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda.” In 2014, Ms Flatt’s achievements were recognized with the meritorious award for Model UN and the Jack Justin Turner award for best student in International Relations.

Sean Bentzen

Sean Bentzen (2009)

Sean Bentzen graduated with a B.S in political science in 2009.  He went on to earn a M.A from the University of Windsor, Ontario in 2010 and a Ph.D in political science from the University of Mississippi in 2014. While in graduate school he served as a research and instructional assistant until he completed the comprehensive exams for doctoral studies.  At this time he taught courses in comparative politics until he finished his dissertation.  He continues to pursue research on corruption around the world and focuses, specifically, on the issue of disentangling corruption and cultural relativity. While attending MTSU, Sean wrote and published his first novel.  Since then, he has written two sequels and has a second trilogy in the works.  Sean is currently a full time writer and tutor.  He plans to enter academia while continuing to push the boundaries of his creative pursuits.  He lives in Nashville with his wife and daughter.

Andrew Sullivan

Andrew Sullivan (2009)

Andrew Sullivan graduated in 2009 with a B.A. in Spanish and International Relations.  Upon graduating, he spent a summer volunteering through the Student Conservation Association at Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park.  In 2010, Mr. Sullivan thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail.  In March of 2011, Mr. Sullivan started his Peace Corps service in the Dominican Republic.  He served 1.5 years as a Community Environmental Development volunteer in a rural mountain community where his work focused primarily on improved cook stoves and environmental education.  In January of 2013, he was promoted to Peace Corps Volunteer Leader of the Community Environmental Development Sector.  He served another 1.5 years in this role, and will be finishing his service in June 2014.  In Fall 2014, Sullivan will begin a Master’s in Public Affairs with a focus on Environmental Policy and Resource Management at Indiana University’s School of Public and Environmental Affairs. Mr. Sullivan participates in the Virtual Mentoring Program and is more than willing to answer questions regarding serving in the Peace Corps.

Kevin Rayburn

Kevin Rayburn (2006)

Kevin Rayburn graduated from the Middle Tennessee State University in 2006 with a degree in political science, and was active in MTSU’s Mock Trial program. In 2010, Kevin received a Master of Business Administration in Finance from the University of Tennessee, and his Doctor of Jurisprudence, cum laude, from the University of Tennessee College of Law.  While in law school, Kevin clerked at several law firms and was a clinic attorney for the University of Tennessee Business Law Clinic.  He also was an editor for Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law as well as the Baker Center Journal of Applied Public Policy.Following graduation, Kevin practiced law at a firm in Columbia, Tennessee for two years with a focus on litigation, estate planning, business, and real estate law.   In 2010, he helped coach the MTSU Mock Trial Program.  Kevin currently is an attorney and policy analyst for Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.  Kevin lives in downtown Nashville with his spouse and fellow MTSU alum, Rachel Harmon.

Patrick Pratt

Patrick Pratt (2010)

Patrick J. Pratt graduated cum laude from MTSU in 2010 with dual degrees in International Relations (B.S.) and Political Science (B.A.), and minors in African Studies and Geography. Patrick held leadership positions in the MTSU Geography Club and the Society for International Affairs. He also represented MTSU at three Model United Nations conferences nationwide and was selected to participate in a World Bank conference on development with two other MTSU students. Patrick received the Meritorious Service Award for participation in student organizations. As a Junior, Patrick received a Tennessee Board of Regents scholarship to conduct an internship with Constituency for Africa in Washington, D.C. while undertaking professional development activities at the Washington Center. Patrick spent his senior year at United States International University in Nairobi, Kenya as a David L. Boren Scholar.

After graduating from MTSU, Patrick returned to Africa to volunteer for a legal rights organization in Rwanda, and shortly thereafter returned to Washington, D.C. to intern with the Horn of Africa team at Human Rights Watch, where he assisted researchers who bring light to human rights abuses in five African countries. In 2011, Patrick was awarded the J. William Fulbright Fellowship, and spent a year studying Swahili and conducting research in Tanzania. Upon returning to the U.S. he began an internship with the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.

In early 2013, Patrick was awarded the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Fellowship, which provides generous financial support for graduate school, an internship in the U.S. Congress, an internship in a U.S. embassy overseas, and leads to a job as a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State. Patrick plans to attend George Washington University for graduate school, and intends to spend much of his Foreign Service career representing the United States in Africa. This was the first time any student from the state of Tennessee had received this distinguished award.

Cynthia J. Cline

Cynthia J. Cline (1984)

Cynthia J. Cline graduated in 1984 with a B.A. in Political Science. She received the Norman L. Parks award in 1979 and served as the president of the MTSU Pre Law Society. She received her law degree from Oklahoma City University, and since 1991 has worked as a defense attorney representing licensed professionals before administrative licensing boards such as the Board of Nurse Examiners for the State of Texas, and other administrative proceedings before the Texas Parole Board, the Texas Workforce Commission, the Texas Human Rights Commission and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Her focus is on criminal defense, international criminal defense, litigation, bankruptcy, and administrative law.  She served as a legal assistant and researcher at trial and on appeal at the UN International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia and most recently was Co-Counsel at the trial and appeal for Prosper Mugiraneza, the former Minister of Civil/Public Service in Rwanda charged with genocide, before the United Nations War Crimes Tribunal for Rwanda located in Arusha, Tanzania that concluded with an acquittal in February 2013. Her office is located in Houston, Texas.

Matthew Hurtt

Matthew Hurtt (2009)

Matthew Hurtt graduated in 2009 with a degree in History & Political Science. While at MTSU, he contributed to Sidelines, hosted a weekly radio show on WMTS, and served in the SGA and at TISL After graduation, he moved to the DC area to work in the conservative movement. He currently works as a copywriter for a high-profile direct mail fundraising firm.Hurtt contributes frequently to the Daily Caller, America’s Future Foundation’s “Doublethink,” RedState, and Breitbart. Additionally, he travels the country, teaching grassroots activists how to win elections. He loves helping MTSU graduates find work in politics. Feel free to contact him: or follow him on Twitter: @matthewhurtt

Stewart Aaron

Stewart Aaron Carlton (2005)

Aaron Carlton served in the U.S. Army from 2000-2003 and deployed to Iraq with the 4th Infantry Division.  After completing his time in the Army, he attended MTSU where he graduated magna cum laude in 2005 with a double major in International Relations and Spanish.  He has framed houses in Tennessee, worked on a fishing boat in Alaska, taught English in Korea, bartended in Japan, studied Mandarin, Portuguese and , and traveled to more than 50 countries.  Aaron joined the Department of State to work as a Foreign Service Officer in 2010 and completed his first assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala, Uganda as a Political/Economic Officer.  He will work temporarily at the United Nations General Assembly in the fall of 2012 before he will go to his next assignment at the U.S. Embassy in Caracas, Venezuela as a Consular Officer from 2013 – 2015.  Aaron loves traveling, dancing, hunting, fishing, and spending time with family.  In the future, he hopes to open a chain of youth hostels around the world.

Aaron Shew

Aaron Shew (2011)

An IR/Global Studies double major and recipient of the Harry Horne International Relations Scholarship, Aaron Shewgraduated spring 2011 and accepted a position with SALT International, a non-profit specifically focused on establishing agri-businesses in the developing world. While at MTSU, Mr. Shew received the Critical Languages Scholarship in 2009 and 2010, and an MTSU Study Abroad Grant in 2008. He participated in a summer intensive Urdu program at the American Institute of Indian Studies in Lucknow, India, studied Arabic in Morroco, and volunteered or interned in Thailand, East Africa, Morocco, Sri Lanka and Mexico. He also published an article in the Journal of the Tennessee Academy of Science.This coming winter (2011), Mr Shew will be moving to Afghanistan, temporarily filling the gap as Financial Director and Assistant Manager for the soy mill. “I am excited about this opportunity to gain further experience in some new areas and to be on the ground. Some days the responsibility is a bit overwhelming, but I’ve always thrived on challenges that push my limits and weaknesses.”IN 2013, Aaron received the Distinguished Doctoral Fellowship at the University of Arkansas to pursue a PhD in Environmental Dynamics. Aaron will become an expert in Geographic Information Systems (GIS) during the first two years, completing an MA in Geography. Then, he will carry out dissertation research using GIS to assess various food insecurity issues, such as the tensions between natural resource management, sustainability, and industrialization. He hopes this research will help practitioners and policy makers become more effective at reducing food insecurity and provide solutions for natural resource management in the developing world.

Adam Bennot (2009) and Grace Johnson (2010) featured in magazine THE HILL, “50 Most Beautiful People for 2011.”

Michael G. Fann

Michael G. Fann (2003)

Michael G. Fann, director of loss control for the TML Risk Management Pool, was presented the John G. Stutz Award by the National League of Cities (NLC) on October 27, 2010, for 25 years of “contributions made to the advancement of municipal government through outstanding and faithful service rendered to cities and state municipal leagues.”;

NLC grants the Stutz Award to any league director, pool administrator, or staff member who has completed a total of 25 years of service with one or more state municipal leagues.

Fann began his service to the Tennessee’s municipalities upon graduating from MTSU in December 1983 with a degree in public administration. He served as the full-time, paid Legislative Intern for the municipal league from January through June of 1984. Upon completing his graduate degree, he then began his risk management career in January, 1986. Currently as Director of Loss Control for the TML Risk Management Pool, Fann is responsible for a department that provides loss control assistance and services to roughly 500 participants in the risk management pool. He also coordinates a state-wide program for liability loss control and safety training.

John Stutz was the first Director of the American Municipal Association, the predecessor of NLC, from 1924 to 1931. In addition, he served as the first Executive Director of the League of Kansas Municipalities for 35 years. NLC presents the Stutz Award not only as an ongoing tribute to a person who was instrumental in the founding of the local government association movement, but also to recognize the contributions that long-time league directors and staff make to the cause of strengthening local government.

Cameron Parrish

Cameron Parrish (2003)

Mr. Parrish graduated in 2003 with a degree in International Relations with significant academic focus in Anthropology and Latin American Studies. He went on to earn a Masters in Business Administration also from MTSU. A native of the Nashville Area, Parrish formerly worked as a Partnership Specialist for the Department of Commerce serving as an outreach advisor to local government and leading public relations efforts to increase participation in the 2010 Census. He is a former regional manager of operations for Knowledge Learning Corporation and responsible for the delivery of academic intervention programs in high-risk public schools in Nashville, Memphis, Chattanooga and Knoxville. Cameron has learned and adopted Spanish as his second language and has completed business studies in the Castile-Leon region of Spain. Parrish is currently Director of Membership for the Nashville Area Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, working to grow membership and establish new structures for future organizational and economic development of the Hispanic community in West, Middle and East Tennessee.

Scott Griswold

Scott Griswold (2006)

MTSU Political Science Department Alumnus Dedicates Time to Pro Bono Work

Knoxville, TN, August 31, 2010—Scott Griswold, a Murfreesboro native and a graduate of MTSU with a B.B.A. in Accounting (2003) and a B.S. in Political Science (2006), was recognized for his commitment to pro bono service in the Knoxville area. Griswold is an attorney at Paine, Tarwater, and Bickers, LLP in Knoxville, Tennessee. At Legal Aid of East Tennessee’s Pro Bono Celebration on July 22, Griswold was honored with the Pro Bono Advocate Award and was recognized for devoting at least 50 hours of his time to pro bono work. In fact, Griswold contributed nearly 250 hours of legal services to pro bono cases.

Griswold’s pro bono work has included cases involving the representation of homeowners in wrongful foreclosure incidents. He also represented an indigent defendant in an appeal before the Tennessee Supreme Court, and in a 5-0 opinion, the Court sided with the indigent client, remanding the case for further proceedings. When asked about his pro bono work, Griswold stated, “When I was a law clerk to Chief Justice William Barker, he constantly encouraged me to do pro bono work once I started practicing law, and I am grateful to be with a firm that shares and supports my commitment to the community.”;

Mr. Griswold was also recently awarded Tennessee Bar Association’s Harris Gilbert Pro Bono Award for 2010, which is the top individual award for a private attorney.

Clay Francis

Clay Francis (2008)

Mr. Francis completed a Masters in Environmental Law and Policy at Vermont Law School and has recently started as a Clean Energy Advocate at the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG). He has two forthcoming publications due out later this year: a chapter in a text book on clean energy law and a chapter in a book describing the environmental design of energy security. He has also been working at the Institute for Energy and the Environment, a think-tank, policy and research institute based at the Vermont Law School.

Clay is currently a teacher at The Hutchinson School in Memphis, and recently won the statewide grades 7-12 Geography Teacher of the Year Award.  His 2015 TedTalk on ‘The Greenist Generation can be found here: 

[While at MTSU, Clay did a semester in Spain, a semester in Mexico, a legislative internship, and spent three summers as an RA and instructor at the Governor’s School for International Relations at the University of Memphis. He graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in political science and Spanish in 2008].

Russell Parman

Russell Parman (2006)

Russell Parman graduated in August 2006 with a degree in International Relations. During his time at MTSU, Russell was a McNair Scholar and published his work “The Social Roots of Terrorism” in the academic journal World of Transformations. He was subsequently awarded the Jack Turner award for excellence in International Relations Studies. Following graduation, Russell attended Vanderbilt University where he graduated in 2008 with a Master of Arts in Political Science. Following his scholastic career, Russell accepted a position within the Department of Defense where he works on Middle Eastern issues.

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