Former Foote Fellow and Research Assistant in UM College of Arts & Sciences Pursuing Ph.D. in Politics at Princeton University

Alex Ades, A.B. ’12, Credits His Success to Time Teaching and Learning at UM

Alex Ades has a full plate, as a first-year Ph.D. student in Politics at Princeton University.

Ades became “hooked” on politics as a high-school junior at Gulliver Preparatory, when he participated in the dual enrollment program with the University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences. He developed a strong interest in political theory, and two took courses in this area before even entering the College as an undergrad.

Ades participated in the prestigious Foote Fellows Program, “offered to a select number of incoming freshmen who have a record of curricular and co-curricular distinction in high school and exhibit an interest in and capacity for independent and self-motivated learning.” Foote Fellows are exempt from the University General Education requirements. 

Ades graduated from UM in just two years, and then pursued a one-year interdisciplinary M.A. in the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. He then returned to UM to work as a Research Assistant in the Department of Political Science, with Professor Jonathan West. Last summer, he developed and taught a course in the M.P.A. program, “Public Administration and Politics in a Diverse Society.”

Ades was admitted to Ph.D. programs at Princeton, Yale, University of California-Berkeley, and Duke.

He took time from his busy schedule to provide an update on his studies, and share how his experience in the UM College of Arts & Sciences helped him find his path and his passion.

Q: What are you studying at Princeton?
A: I’m specializing in political theory, and my research interests include the relationship between religion and democracy, and democratic theories of constitutionalism.

Q: How did UM prepare you for this next step in your education?
A: The U has played a pivotal role in my academic development – not just during my time as an undergraduate, but also before and after.

In my junior year of high school, I found out about the dual enrollment program and signed up for a course with a title that piqued my interest: God, Science, and Politics. I was gripped by the problems posed by the course: Can people of sharply differing beliefs (both religious and secular) peacefully coexist in a democracy? Can we respect religious pluralism while maintaining a robust commitment to political values such as equality (e.g., the debates over abortion and same-sex marriage)? Are we to tolerate the intolerant?

Q: In addition to studying at UM, you also served as a Research Assistant in the Department of Political Science for one year after completing your M.A. in Chicago. How was this experience valuable?
A: As a Research Assistant, and later a Research Support Specialist, I gained invaluable research and editorial experience, conducting multi-disciplinary research for journal articles and books on topics in ethics and public administration. I also gained useful insights into the publishing process, by serving as an editorial assistant for the public administration journal Public Integrity, and into academia, by helping with the strategic planning process for the MPA Program and the Department as a whole.

It was wonderful to be back at the U for the year, to be able to give back to the Department and the U, and to get to know some of my former professors better.

My experience at the U – as a high school student, an undergraduate, staff, and faculty – has been instrumental every step of the way and I’m certain it will continue to be so in the future.

Q: Are there any professors who had a particularly significant impact on you while you were at UM?
A: Professor Fred Frohock quickly became my mentor and friend. He not only gave life to my passion for political theory, but has also continued to support me in many ways over the years.

Professor Jonathan West has given me more opportunities for growth than I can properly thank him for.

And all the rest of the Political Science Department – I learned something valuable from each of them.

December 02, 2014