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Student Sees Future in Public Service

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Janette Ballard

Andi Schlut

Andi Schlut has her sights set on Washington, D.C., with plans to pursue a career as an elected official, working in a federal government agency, or conducting research. No matter which path she takes, the third-year political science and socio-legal studies major is sure of one thing... her liberal arts education at DU is providing a solid framework for any career she chooses.

"I know that a liberal arts education is crucial to crafting a well-rounded individual," said Schlut. "The critical thinking skills, research opportunities, and leadership abilities that are developed through a liberal arts education are unparalleled and incredibly useful in the 'real world'."

Schlut has been putting her education into practice, beginning as an intern in 2016 for Colorado U.S. Representative Mike Coffman.

"It was an incredible experience, especially since it was in the midst of the fascinating and compelling 2016 presidential election," she said. "I learned a lot about political incentives and priorities, spending a lot of my time scheduling meetings for the Congressman. I also learned a lot about what our members of Congress do in the district. Many of the district staff members are dedicated entirely to the process of constituent services, or helping individual constituents navigate the federal bureaucracy."

Schlut sees herself instigating social and political change in Washington. "The best way to do that is by becoming an agent of the federal government, gaining access to some of the most crucial decision-making processes in the entire country," she said.

She would also like to pursue research opportunities should they become available. Last spring, Schlut received full funding from DU to present a research paper at the Midwestern Political Science Association annual conference in Chicago. What began as a final paper for a political science class was further developed when her professor, Elizabeth Sperber, recommended she submit it to the conference.

"It ended up being a qualitative coding research design intended to compare a well-known moral-psychological-political model of moral appeals to the actual moral rhetoric employed by politicians," said Schlut. "I collected almost 300 documents from a number of U.S. presidential administrations including State of the Union addresses, inaugural addresses, and executive orders, and analyzed them in order to understand under which circumstances and for what reasons political elites tend to make appeals to our morality and values."

"The [conference] experience was incredible, mostly because it afforded me the opportunity to sit in on presentations by some of the most respected political scientists in the field and also gave me the opportunity to present my research and receive feedback so that I could improve my techniques, writing, and presentation skills," she added.

On campus, Schlut can be found serving the AHSS student body as the vice president of communication and social media for the Student Advisory Council.

"This year, we hope to include the voices of more students and feature the incredible work being done by so many students on campus. We are also working to implement some new programming and initiatives that involve career planning and professional development, as well as expand our alumni network to encourage students and alumni to connect more," said Schlut.

She has also served on the marketing committee for the DU Programming Board, a student organization that develops and schedules campus-wide events at DU, including Homecoming, Winter Carnival and other smaller, day-to-day events "designed to improve the overall student experience and encourage collaboration and healthy fun on DU's campus."

Speaking of fun, Schlut is also a member and co-president of DU First Edition (DUFE), an all-female a cappella group.

"We are proud to perform a wide variety of repertoire, including pop tunes, vintage classics, musical theatre staples, and even rap! We also do a campus favorite—DUFE Grams—every Valentine's Day," said Schlut. "We perform at a variety of events around campus, the most exciting of which is ACOpella, an event that we host involving a cappella groups from all of the major universities in the state of Colorado."

Following graduation from DU, Schlut plans to attend law school or political science graduate school as the next step to achieving her goals of working for the federal government and conducting original research. 

"My liberal arts education has helped me to improve my critical thinking skills and problem solving abilities, both of which will directly contribute to my abilities to serve the public and engage in large-scale research projects," she said.