Afghan student participates in Georgetown’s Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute as part of her goal to support immigrants

Afghan student participates in Georgetown’s Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute as part of her goal to support immigrants

Afghan student participates in Georgetown’s Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute as part of her goal to support immigrants


Marzia Hussaini Headshot

For senior political science major Marzia S. Hussaini, impacting political policy in support of immigrants and the underprivileged is a personal matter. Originally from Afghanistan, the political science major took full advantage of being among the 19 students selected to participate in Georgetown University’s first Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute.

Hussaini (’23), was among the juniors and seniors who attended the weeklong event designed to increase diversity among applicants to political science doctoral programs. Historically underrepresented students from area colleges gained training, support and resources in preparation for applying to Ph.D. programs in political science or related fields.

“Participating in this program allowed me to learn from political scientists about the science of politics, its different subfields and the research methods,” said Hussaini.,. “This program also prepared me for my next step, which is applying to graduate school.”

Hussaini earned a Legal Assistant Associate Degree in 2020 from UDC and continued to the bachelor’s program in political science at the Van Ness campus, where she will graduate in May. Her initial plans were to go to law school, but her political science classes have inspired her to want to make a difference to impact change in policies impacting immigrants. Her senior seminar research topic is “Otherness and Immigrant Policies.”

“I presented my research and received helpful feedback that I can now use,” she said. “It helped me see the flaws or weaknesses of my research. In this program, we talked about why political science is important, and how to develop research questions and methods for research.”

While Hussaini is still finalizing her career plans, she is applying to attend graduate school. “I want to do something to help people and lead to social progress. Whatever road I take, I want to make a difference. I believe people’s background impacts their contribution. I would like to work for social causes that promote social progress. I want to help the disadvantaged groups because I am one of them.”

The program’s curriculum included sessions with faculty and graduate students who addressed the opportunities and challenges of pursuing a Ph.D., seminars on the study and methodology of political science, and opportunities to hone participants’ research skills and work on how to improve their applications.

The Summer Institute was led by Diana Kapiszewski, associate professor in the Department of Government; Lahra Smith, associate professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) and Department of Government; and five doctoral students and candidates in the Department of Government who served as “Ph.D. Ambassadors” and who will continue to mentor students through the next academic year. The Institute also featured a range of faculty and staff from Georgetown, including Provost Robert M. Groves, as well as other area universities.

“Faculty in Georgetown’s Department of Government developed the program as part of our efforts to diversify the department’s student and faculty community and rethink the types of questions the discipline asks and the methodologies it uses,” said Anthony Clark Arend, chair of the Department of Government.

“We hope the Institute will play a small role in addressing the deep pipeline issues that lead to the lack of diversity among Ph.D. students, and thus faculty in political science,” Kapiszewski said.

During the week, speakers discussed the opportunities political scientists must address including urgent topics such as climate change, inequality and political divisions.

Participants in the Summer Institute gained professional and academic development and were able to build networks with fellow scholars. The next Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute will be held in June 2023.

“My studies at UDC prepared me for this program by making me aware of the importance of research and helping me to turn my research idea into a research proposal,” said Hussaini, who also works on campus as a research assistant. “UDC changed my education from passive learning to active learning. I appreciate Dr. Jasmine Yarish, one of my political science professors, for referring me to this program.”