Joe Larsen

Why Political Science?

From a very young age I was drawn to studying about history, society, and world issues.

Influential Professors and Experiences

All my professors at Western had an impact on me in some way, but my experience with Professor Alper was very influential. Dr. Alper helped me to believe in myself while I pursued my research in an often overlooked area that is very relevant to our region. Professor Abedi also helped me a great deal as my faculty mentor. I additionally enjoyed my time taking classes with or working for Professor Johnson, Professor Salazar and Professor Whitaker.

Working with Professor Alper and having the chance to interact with many important scholars and government officials (including the current U.S. Ambassador to Canada) in the US - Canada policy world was an excellent experience. Attending many of the various meetings and talks at Canada House help me to know what was necessary to organize such events. Additionally, writing my graduate thesis strengthened my ability to overcome obstacles and finish large projects on time.

Real World Connections

I currently work as a Program Coordinator at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region (PNWER) in Seattle. At PNWER, I handle a wide variety of jobs but my most common task is planning meetings involving some of the topics I studied at WWU. I hope one day to serve as a Foreign Service Officer in the U.S. State Department.

Researching the Canada - U.S. Border at Western is the reason why I have my current position at the Pacific NorthWest Economic Region. When I coordinate meetings, I am often in contact with people I met or whose work I read while researching border issues at WWU. I strongly feel that studying political science has helped to prepare me for my current job.


My advice to potential students is to try to take advantage of all of Western's resources and to study what you are interested in, but to try to mold your interests to Western's strengths. Do not float your way through school, because the jobs available for political science majors are very competitive.