Stellar Student: Isabel Gonzales

Someday, Isabel Gonzales hopes to inspire university students the same way she was inspired when she took an Introduction to International Relations course.

Isabel Gonzales, a senior political science major hopes earn a PhD and teach at the university level. (Photo by Joseph Lacdan)

The Political Science class taught by associate professor Denise DeGarmo, motivated Gonzales to pursue a career as a college professor.

Gonzales, a 20-year-old senior from Belleville, hopes to apply for a graduate program at New York University’s international relations program, or George Washington University’s Global Gender Program after she graduates in December. Gonzales said the course also inspired her to enroll in the Undergraduate Research Creative Activities program where she assisted DeGarmo with researching how occupation affects gender in Palestine.

Gonzales, who carries a 3.7 GPA was recently named a Stellar Student by the College of Arts and Sciences. Her political science interests center on challenges minorities and other disparaged people face.

“A lot of my interests in political science are dealing with the politics of identity,” Gonzales said. “A lot of what I do is very soft science, I focus a lot on gender, a lot on marginalized ethnic groups and how it affects political systems, how it affects how people treat them.”

Gonzales said that being a minority of Filipino descent and being female impacted her interests. She said her parents, who emigrated from the Philippines told her stories about living under former Filipino dictator Ferdinand Marcos and how it impacted their lives.

“They mentioned the genocide and the horrors of Japanese imperialism, sometimes my mom would mention vaguely what it was like to live under the Marcos regime,” Gonzales said.

But her interests in politics began before she set foot on SIUE’s campus. As a student at Belleville West High School, took a political science class taught by West teacher Brandon Hentze.

“I just fell in love with it — especially the international aspect,” Gonzales said.

Gonzales, who considers herself a feminist, is also minoring in women’s studies and international studies. Originally Gonzales was interested in post-Soviet politics but shifted her focus to ethnic groups and social classes.  She also credits taking a Women and Values course with impacting her perspective on gender.

“My gender impacts how people treat me in the field and academically,” Gonzales said.

Outside of the URCA program, Gonzales is studying how social media has helped marginalized people, Palestinians and African Americans in Ferguson, get their voice heard.

“From my experience being a minority in the United States, that influenced (me),” Gonzales said. “It’s just always interested me. I’m not interested in election politics. (Politics of identity) is one of the biggest things that impact people on the most direct level.”


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