APSA Member of the Month: Mary McHugh

Mary McHugh, Merrimack College

September Member of the Month
Member since 1994

Why did you become a political scientist?
I have been interested in politics and government for as long as I can remember. Growing up my parents discussed current events with my brothers and me around the dinner table. My dad was a social studies teacher and I think I inherited his love of the subject. He and I tracked the Electoral College results in 1976 with a fisher price chalkboard. I decided in my senior year of college that I would try to make a career out of it and 30 years later here I am happy that I did. There is always something interesting happening in American Politics and my curiosity for studying it and teaching about it has really never wavered.

Why did you join APSA and why do you continue to stay involved?
I joined APSA to become part of the academic community of political science scholars. I attended the annual conference and read the journals. I stay involved in APSA because of the folks that I have met and have become friends with through conferences such as the Teaching & Learning Conference. APSA’s sponsorship of the TLC has allowed me to find my niche in the discipline and to research, collaborate, present and publish in many different areas that I have interest in.

What is the most challenging aspect of being a political scientist? How?
I think the most challenging aspect of being a political scientist is confronting the public’s disinterest and disdain about politics. It has been a depressing few years. Civic Engagement is the key to a healthy political system but the current political environment is working against it. Getting students excited and involved about politics has been hard. Finding an answer to the public’s disdain has been difficult but we need to keeping working on it.

“I joined APSA to become part of the academic community of political science scholars. I attended the annual conference and read the journals.”

If you could give one piece of advice to someone in their graduate/undergraduate years, what would it be and why?
Political Science is both an occupation and a vocation. Focus on an area that you enjoy but be willing to be open to other parts of the discipline. You might be surprised at where you end up.

Outside of political science, tell us something interesting about yourself. 
I am a huge baseball fan. My loyalty is to the Boston Red Sox. I have been to over half of the baseball parks in the major leagues. My nephews and I take annual trips to see the different parks.

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