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Natalia Rios Martinez

Natalia Rios MartinezAlumni Profile

Graduation year and major

2023 Political Science, 2023 International Studies, 2023 Public Relations

Where do you currently work, and what is your position?

I work in the US House of Representatives as a Staff Assistant for Congressman Jeff Jackson (NC-14).

Why did you choose to attend Iowa State?

I initially considered transferring from Iowa State after my first year with dreams of attending school in DC. However, the moment I set foot on campus, I felt an undeniable connection that made me stay. ISU offered more than quality education; it provided infinite opportunities, from diverse clubs and supportive professors to incredible friends and a dedicated staff committed to my success. I realized I could receive not just a decent education but an exceptional one, making my decision to remain at ISU really easy

Why did you choose to major in political science?

My interest in political science stems from my early curiosity for history, especially Puerto Rican politics. The seamless connection between history and politics drew me in, but what kept me was the meaningful understanding of government dynamics at all levels. Choosing political science felt like the ideal pathway to transform an interest into a deeper and more nuanced understanding

What did you enjoy most about being a political science major?

Besides always feeling supported by professors in my endeavors, I enjoyed the diverse curriculum and exposure to various schools of thought fostering a well-rounded perspective. Staying updated on current events honed my conversational skills, allowing me to discuss a wide range of topics with ease. This, coupled with classroom learning, not only prepared me for competitive internships but also strengthened my connections with others.

Is there a political science class that you particularly enjoyed?

Choosing one class is challenging, but POL S 306, Public Opinion and Voting Behavior by Zach Bonner stood out. It hit me with a reality check about people’s actual interest in politics—turns out, it’s not always as high as us POL S majors think. On a fun note, it was quite a contrast to POL S 435/535 on Contemporary Political Philosophy with Dr. Gregory Robson. We dove into the idea of ditching democracy for Epistocracy, where only the politically savvy get to vote. If that sparks your interest, check out Jason Brennan’s book, “Against Democracy.”

Did any faculty members or staff in the Department of Political Science inspire or support you when you were at Iowa State? How?

Picking one faculty member is tough, but I must acknowledge Dr. Karen Kedrowski for her instrumental support in resurrecting the Pol S club. Given her significant contributions to politics and commitment to uplifting women in the field, she became a reliable source of guidance. I am equally grateful to esteemed professors such as Bonner, Dr. Shelley, Dr. Smith, Dr. Hassid, Dr. Tuckness, Dr. Shaw, Dr. Renny, and my advisor Jason, all of whom played pivotal roles in providing mentorship and support throughout crucial decisions in my academic journey. My sincere appreciation extends to the entire faculty for their invaluable contributions to my success.

How has your political science degree supported your career aspirations?

My degree helped me find my way to a career in public service, equipping me with a tangible understanding of government processes and societal dynamics. Additionally, the comprehensive curriculum and mentorship from professors provided me with analytical and critical thinking skills crucial for navigating a job on the Hill.

How do you use what you learned as a political science major in your daily work?

As a political science major, I apply my knowledge daily as a congressional staff assistant. This background helps me navigate legislative processes, comprehend proposed legislation, and contribute to policy discussions. My critical thinking and research skills, developed during my education, enable me to analyze issues, prepare briefings, and draft responses to constituents. Overall, my political science background helps me play a valuable role in supporting the member of Congress and addressing constituents’ needs

What would you tell students who are considering a political science degree at Iowa State?

If you’re considering a political science degree at Iowa State, I would encourage you to reflect on your goals and what you hope to gain from your education. If your aim is a well-rounded education and a comprehensive understanding of political science, Iowa State’s program provides a solid foundation. The curriculum not only covers political institutions and policy analysis but also hones critical thinking and research skills. Trust that you will have a privileged access to a supportive faculty that are here to support your educational journey. Speak to alumni, ask for professor character references, and look at the courses offered.

What is your fondest memory of being a political science major at Iowa State?

So many, but definitely those late-night study sessions at the library with classmates that sometimes turned into personal debriefs and lots of laughs. There’s just something about tackling academic challenges together, especially during those midnight sessions – it magically eases the test anxiety. When you see everyone else putting in the same hard work, it sort of gives you hope for the future. Those connections are hands down some of the best parts of my Iowa State experience.

What advice to you have for current or future Iowa State political science majors?

My advice is to embrace challenging classes that push your boundaries. The ISU professors are super approachable, so keep those lines of communication open – they’re there to help. Remember, you’re not in this alone. Lean on your fellow students, share notes, tackle exam reviews together. Dive into internships for practical experience and, most importantly, enjoy the ride! The whole journey will fly by before you realize it.

Anything else to add?

Make sure to truly enjoy every moment because, before you know it, you’ll be stepping into the “real world.” If you ever wonder what it’s like working on the hill or need advice about applying to internships in public service, don’t hesitate to reach out. Best of luck on your journey at Iowa State and beyond.