Drew Van’t Land is studying social and political philosophy with a focus on the intersection of ancient/classical rhetoric with postmodern political theology. He plans to pursue a Ph.D. and teach college. He is involved in the development of the Saxifrage School, a soon-to-be-launched Pittsburgh-based college combining the liberal arts with trades, such as construction and organic agriculture. “Trinity’s philosophy department prepared me well by offering intimate mentoring, a broad range of classes, and a pair of in-depth senior seminars. Not only did my professors write recommendations for me when I applied to graduate school, but they helpfully suggested schools that would be a fit.”
Spring 2012 TRINITY Magazine, Real World Success
Alex Walsh ’10
Major: Political Science, Communication Arts
Title: Doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant, West Virginia University
Alex Walsh earned his master’s degree from DePaul University in 2012 and is pursuing a Ph.D. in interpersonal and instructional communication at West Virginia University. As a doctoral student at a “research one” level institution, he is expected to complete his studies, teach undergraduate level classes, and research communication in both romantic relationships and instructional settings.
Learning beyond the books: “At Trinity, I got to know my professors, see their personal passions in the academic world, and apply my own interests in their classes. I learned to think critically about what I was studying, to explore different perspectives, and to create my own opinions. Trinity professors showed me how to be passionate about my studies while maintaining my faith. Dr. Craig Mattson, professor of communication arts, challenged the students in their academic work and found ways to tie the academic theories back to the Christian faith. Professors also tackled tough issues head on. Today as an instructor, I don’t shy away from the tough questions either; I charge at them with an open mind.”
Collaborative research: “During my senior year, Professor John Sianghio and I conducted a critical analysis on how digital technology creates and reinforces political identities. I was treated not as a student, but as a fellow researcher. I brought John ideas, he critiqued them, I critiqued his responses, and we would refine our goals for the study. We would wrestle over ideas that neither of us knew the answer to. This mentor/mentee process is exactly what occurs at the graduate level.”
Plans for the future: “I hope to become a professor. My research in instructional communication observes what factors encourage or discourage student interactions with their professors and their academic work. As a Christian, I think it is important that we know how to engage the students in their academic work, but challenge them in their faith.”
Spring 2010 TRINITY Magazine, Career and Calling
Alex Gesch ’08
Major: Political science
Title: Yale law student
“I have been blessed with an extraordinary opportunity to study under some of the best law professors in the world, and I am seeking to make the most of it,” said Alex Gesch ’08, a second-year law student at Yale Law School.
Gesch said that although he has been called to the field of law, the realization that God was leading him in that direction developed gradually over years of study, prayer, and wise counsel.
“Through my professors and others I learned that a calling does not merely entail a laundry list of ‘Christian’ activities,” he said, “but consists of living one’s whole life ‘Christianly,’ especially in the area of our vocation.”
At the point in his life when God’s leading seemed unclear, Gesch said that “being found faithful in the little things” was preparation for what opportunities came next. Looking back on an example of this from his academic life at Trinity, he said that taking the introductory political science course was initially because of a personal interest. Later he understood how the class had shaped his view of Christian service in public life.
Other aspects of his time at Trinity that he credits with shaping his worldview and preparing him for graduate study include “phenomenal instructors and models of Christian faithfulness.”
The opportunity to study abroad was an integral part of that preparation, as well. “My semester in Oxford was a wonderful introduction to the next level of scholarship and learning,” said Gesch. “It was also a terrific life experience that allowed me to reflect on the benefits of the rest of my undergraduate education.”
As part of his current education, faith plays a direct role in his work, and Gesch summed up his main motivation with the words of British politician and humanitarian William Wilberforce: “To please God is a wonderful motivator toward that which is good and lovely. The desire to please man is full of dangers.” Said Gesch, “I expect that my career might change from time to time, but this motivation should be the foundation of all that the Christian professional thinks or does.”