Meet a Government Major


Ethan Van Ness ’13

Extra-curricular activities: 

  • Student Government
  • Model United Nations, Educational Affairs Committee
  • Assistant to the Director of the Holocaust, Genocide and Interfaith Education Center
  • Manhattan College Players

Why did you choose your major? 

I chose my major because I believe that through research and practical application of academic knowledge we can improve our relations with the rest of the world. Additionally, I believe that we can develop a society in which we understand and value other cultures, peoples and ideas. I hope to be able to help shift the foreign policy of the American government towards one of diplomacy and understanding.

What has been your favorite class? 

My favorite course so far has been my Senior Seminar in Diplomacy. The course is engaging and really the bridge between my undergraduate career and my future in the diplomatic and political world. 

Have you done any research projects?

I was selected for the Branigan Scholars Grant, for which I did research on the relationship of Islam to government in the state of Turkey. I spent my entire summer reading, writing and editing and finally came up with a significant piece of original research that I am proud of and has made me want to continue on to graduate school. It was a grueling process but I learned more about myself, academia and the Middle East than I could possibly have imagined.

What are your plans after graduation?

I hope to continue on to graduate school before entering into a career in diplomacy and politics. I would like to work for the State Department and eventually become a member of the U.S. Congress.

What are the faculty like?

In government, Dr. Antolik, Dr. Groarke and Dr. Chasek have all given me fantastic insight and knowledge that have led me to want to pursue a career in politics and diplomacy. Additionally, although he is not a professor in my major, Dr. Cory Blad has been an essential and extremely influential adviser in my college career at Manhattan College. He was my Branigan Grant adviser and has helped me throughout my graduate school application process.

What’s your favorite thing about this major?

I have loved the opportunity to shape my major in the way that peak my interests the most. I am not forced into too many courses unrelated to my interests, and the expertise of the professors has been vital to my understanding and appreciation of my chosen profession.

What’s the most difficult thing about this major?

The most difficult part has been not having enough course offerings on the Middle East. As this is the area I have decided to focus on, it would have been useful to have more classes on politics, history and development of the region.

What advice would you give to new students trying to select a major?

I would tell students to think of what they are most passionate about in life  to disregard money or family expectations and do what they would do if those things did not matter, because if you do not love what you do then there is no reason to do it. Additionally, I would tell them not to worry because they can always change their major if they need to.