Monique Newton, a third-year scholar athlete with a double major in politics and law and society, has been named a 2017 American Political Science Association (APSA) Ralph Bunche Summer Institute Scholar.
Named in honor of the 1950 Nobel Peace Prize winner and the first African American to receive a PhD in political science, the summer institute is an intensive, five-week program held at Duke University. It is designed especially for undergraduates from underrepresented groups or those interested in pursuing scholarship on issues affecting underrepresented groups. Each year, 20 students are chosen from a national applicant pool.
The program includes two transferable credit courses—one in quantitative analysis and one in race and American politics—and a comprehensive introduction to the intellectual demands of graduate school and political science research methods. For a final project for both courses, students prepare original, empirical research papers. The top-performing students have the opportunity to present their research at the American Political Science Association's Annual Meeting.
Educational activities range from formal classroom settings to informal dinners and lunches with prominent political scientists and Duke University faculty. A strong ethics component is included with readings, cases, debates, and lectures on issues within an academic setting. At the end of the institute, representatives from a number of leading PhD-granting institutions participate in a recruitment fair to present information about doctoral study and admissions with Bunche students.
Newton, who is from Sacramento, California, is a Mellon Mays Undergraduate Research Fellow at Oberlin. She is currently working on a research project that examines the relationship between African Americans and the government through an analysis of African American political participation. Her project is titled “Myths vs. Reality: Uncovering the Causes of African American Voter Turnout in the United States.” She has also conducted research for a member of Boston City Council on a potential policy that guarantees state housing for citizens who have just been released from jail or prison. Her overall research interests include African American voting behavior and the effect public policy has on disadvantaged groups in the United States.
Newton says she first learned about the summer institute from Assistant Professor of Politics Jenny Garcia, who encouraged her to apply.
“After looking at the description I realized that this program was so much more than just an opportunity for me to continue my Mellon Mays research. This intensive summer institute is really going to help prepare me for graduate school and help me build relationships with some prominent political scientists.”
In addition to academics, Newton is a thrower for the women’s track and field team. In March 2017, during the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships, she became the first woman NCAA champion in Oberlin history after posting the sixth-best throw in the shot put in the history of the competition.
Newton has also served on the student finance committee, a seven-member organization that allocates $1.3 million from the student activity fund to student organizations, for two years.
After Oberlin, she plans to pursue a PhD program in politics or Africana studies.