Junior Harrison Jumper from has taken advantage of every opportunity that has come his way during his time at Villanova.
During his high school years, he became encapsulated with political science during the 2016 Presidential Election. While taking his AP U.S. Government Course, he became obsessed with the process of campaigns and learned that he wanted to explore the field of political science during his undergraduate career. He chose Villanova for two reasons. First, he was drawn by the caliber of the Political Science Department, who, when he visited campus, told him about their programming and all the networking opportunities he could get involved in. Second, he decided to come to Candidate’s Day where he witnessed the strength of the community, a community that wanted him to come here. He had the sense that this is where he could belong.
Once he came to Villanova, he picked up some political science courses and declared as soon as he thought was possible. He also has a minor in economics.
His biggest involvement on campus has been his work with the student Government Association. “I have chaired the Elections Commissions for SGA since my Freshman year, which was the year it was created. It’s a major component of my time throughout each semester, because there are elections in the Fall for freshman candidates and there’s elections in the Spring for President, Vice President, and the senatorial positions. As Chair, I oversee the elections from start to finish. This includes working with the candidates and guiding them, helping them understand the university’s election laws, setting up the debates, meet and greets, and the campaign rally night, which was something that we started this year. On Election Day we set up the voting link and the email blast that gets sent out to every student, so it’s a really big undertaking.”
He is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi, which is an honors fraternity, and the Academic Reform Committee, which looks into improving different initiatives within the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and representing what the students want.
On recalling his favorite campus experience, the first memory that sprung into his mind was the 2018 Villanova National Championship Basketball win. “I followed every game. I am not a big sports person, but I will support Villanova Basketball. When I heard that we were going to the Final Four, I immediately began to plan how I’d get to San Antonio. I was looking on Google Flights every day, and then the day I was heading home for Spring Break, my parents picked me up and I was in the car checking my phone and I saw there were tickets for $230, so I texted my friend that we were going. The thing was, I had to fly to Salt Lake City, Utah, and then I flew to Dallas, and then I took a bus from Dallas to San Antonio, so like a crazy person, I traveled for thirteen hours to go see Villanova play in just the Final Four Game. I didn’t even stay for the Championship. But I got to come back to campus for the Championship, so I really did get to see the best of both worlds. San Antonio was just incredible, and I was even on TV multiple times because I dressed up from head to toe in attire. I have never been on the news more than doing the championship run because I dressed up to all the events, so the reporters would take pictures of me. Afterwards, I lost my voice and got sick, but it was all so worth it.”
After his freshman year, he had an internship with an Educational Law Firm with attorneys that represent different school districts. The experience from that internship helped him achieve his second one last summer when he interned for the City of Philadelphia in the Mayor’s Internship Program under Mayor Jim Kenney, for which he was placed into the City Law Department. “I accepted the role because it was a good opportunity to forge connections and learn about the functioning of local and city government. I worked closely with the Code Enforcement Unit, which is responsible for building code violations and who take action to get places in Philadelphia in compliance when they may be in violation of a building in code. I went to court multiple times a week and saw city attorneys litigate on behalf of the public and the city government.”
An irreplaceable part of his experience as a political science major, one he hopes that every political science major gets the chance to do, was the three-week Washington D.C. Minimester hosted by the Political Science Department. “When I first toured Villanova, this girl who I ran into who was a Political Science major told me that this was the one thing I had to do before I graduate. You go to D.C. with fifteen others, and they set-up this amazing itinerary for you. It’s used to explore the intersection between politics and policy making. They had us meet with different professionals in D.C. from congressmen to journalists and to pollsters to have an open dialogue with them. A big part of it is the questions we ask them, so the Department Head of the Political Science Department, Dr. Matthew Kerbel, asks when you interview for this program if you’re ready to ask tough questions to these professionals. I told him, of course, because the learning is going to happen in these tough questions. We learned about all the different avenues of professional careers that are available, but it also enhances our learning so much because what we learn in class at Villanova might be more theoretical in nature, since we’re learning how government should operate and good governance, while this program teaches us the reality rather than what it should be.”
This current semester, he has been taking the ASPD course Public Policy Paths taught by Kate Szumanski, which has now opened up many doors for him and tries to connect students with alumni in Washington D.C. “When I saw the description for the course, I realized it was perfectly up my alley. We learn about the alumni’s experience working as a professional in D.C. we are given ways to stay in contact with them. They come visit our class, and it has been incredible hearing what they have to say. I see my future in Washington D.C., and so getting the opportunity to talk to these people was fundamental because internships in D.C. can be incredibly hard to secure. Before the class started, I reached out to Kate and I told her that I was interested in getting an internship this summer in D.C., but I didn’t know how since kids from all over the country are coming and trying to get these hypercompetitive internships. I asked if she had any advice for me, and she told me that I was already on the right track by taking the class and she told me to network, network, network to land myself a role. And it worked. Now, I have an internship this summer working in the Congressional Office of Congressman Dwight Evans which I just learned about. Kate was the first person I emailed because she has felt like such a friend and a mentor to me rather than a teacher.”
His internship will begin at the end of May and will last for about twelve weeks. For Congressman Dwight Evans, who serves a district in Philadelphia, Harrison will be answering letters, emails, and phone calls from constituents and engaging in a discussion with them about their concerns, wishes, and issues, and he will take on any tasks that a legislative aide might give him. “I’m hoping to prove myself this summer by working as hard as I can, because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity to work on Capitol Hill. I can’t even believe that I’m really doing it, it hasn’t set in yet. It’s intimidating too, to have this role and know that I’m going to be walking down those aisles.”
Though Harrison is not completely sure as to what he wants to do after he graduates, but he now knows that he has a deeper interest in exploring federal politics and policy through his Public Policy Paths course and the Washington Minimester. He also hopes that his internship on Capitol Hill will continue to open doors for him.
To other Villanova students, Harrison had one main piece of advice. “I would say that the key to having a really enriching time here is to get involved in things that you really like. It doesn’t really matter what it is, because everyone has varying interests and passions, but when you get involved in something you start meeting people and you start making these friendships that might otherwise not have happened. Apply to as many clubs or organizations that you feel may be somehow relevant to you and then throughout your time distill which ones you really like and commit yourself to them, because when you put your all into something the reward will be really great in the end. You’ll make so many connections and friends that it will be invaluable to helping you and enriching your time here. Ultimately, it is about the people you meet. Also the learning lessons that you learn through your extracurriculars can be more valuable than what you learn in the classroom. That’s something that I learned especially this election season in SGA, since I dealt with how people work.”