Meet Linsey Jensen ’23, a remarkable alumna whose academic journey was shaped by her passion for understanding different cultures and exploring intricate connections in global affairs. While at Southwestern, Jensen pursued a double major in international studies and religion, immersing herself in the complexities of geopolitics and the diverse beliefs that shape our world. This fall, Jensen will begin a prestigious dual degree master’s program at Columbia University and the London School of Economics (LSE), where she will receive an MA in European History, Politics, and Society from Columbia University and an MSc in Culture and Conflict in a Global Europe from LSE. The program offers a unique opportunity to study at two internationally renowned institutions equipping students with essential skills and experience.

Jensen fully embraced her educational journey at Southwestern by participating in various enriching activities. One notable endeavor was her involvement in SCOPE alongside Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science Katharine Aha. Together, they researched the rapid emergence of radical right parties in East Central Europe. Jensen also took advantage of the opportunity to study abroad in Estonia, immersing herself in diverse cultures, languages, and perspectives. This transformative experience broadened her global understanding and enriched her worldview.

Aha first met Jensen when she was in her European Politics course and said Jensen stood out among her peers with her ability to make connections from other classes in different departments. When Aha searched for students to collaborate with on SCOPE research that delved into post-communist Europe radical right parties, Jensen was an obvious choice.

“Linsey immediately came to mind, given her ability to think about research questions from new and interesting perspectives,” Aha said. “She and her SCOPE partner Catherine Hiebel ’22 assisted me with identifying and summarizing relevant literature, from which we derived our hypotheses. We also worked together on building our dataset, which included data from three countries - Bulgaria, Romania, and Slovakia, and they assisted with interpreting and describing our findings. Linsey also helped me prepare the manuscript for submission to peer-reviewed political science journals, where we hope to publish this study.”

Throughout Jensen’s academic journey, she planned on going to law school. She worked for the Zinda law firm, gaining valuable experience, and even took the LSAT. However, she reconsidered her plans when she began thinking about what would make her happiest.

“I started shifting my focus, seeking guidance through Southwestern’s mentoring program,” Jensen recalled. “I sought advice from alumni in both the legal and international fields, and they provided invaluable insights. Serendipitously, I stumbled upon this dual-degree program.”

During her time in Estonia, Jensen had an influential moment with a professor who shared his experience in consulting work between governments, particularly in the military realm. This profoundly impacted Jensen and opened her eyes to new possibilities, allowing her to explore unconventional career paths that aligned with her evolving aspirations. The master’s program she has been accepted into combines her interests in history, politics, culture, and conflict, providing a platform to make a meaningful impact on a global scale.

As Jensen reflects on her time at Southwestern, she expresses a profound sense of preparedness for the challenges that lay ahead. The University’s emphasis on continuous learning and personal growth instilled in her a drive to go above and beyond. She has discovered the balance between high expectations and achievable goals. Above all, Southwestern has honed her critical thinking abilities and adaptability, equipping her with the essential skills needed to thrive in the real world.

“One of the reasons I truly love Southwestern is the abundance of opportunities available to students. It’s all about seizing those opportunities and making the most of them. I have been fortunate to explore areas and work on projects that I never thought I would have the chance to do before,” Jensen expressed. “The University provides a myriad of opportunities, catering to different interests and passions. Whether engaging in research or participating in community-oriented programs, Southwestern allows students to interact and positively impact their community directly.”

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