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Alumni Spotlight: Ian Fischer, PS Honors leads to graduate school in Psychology


The political science honors thesis Ian Fischer wrote in 2011 is titled, “Violence in the North Caucasus: Eastern Rising.” Knowing this, and that Ian is wrapping up a masters degree in Clinical/Counseling Psychology, you might ask; how does one get from an academic interest in the “rise of political Islam in the North Caucasus of Russia” to a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology?

For Ian, the leap into psychology “makes sense” because his Political Science honors thesis, “…zoomed in on religion and analyzed its role in relation to trauma, bereavement, and loss in the face of violent confrontation…” During the writing of his thesis, it became clear that he was “less interested in the idea that religion played a role in peoples lives, and more interested in how it played that role.”

This question of “how” lead Ian to “look at the effects of religiosity on experiences of grief and death anxiety…” which, lead to an academic interest in psychology. He is now applying to PhD programs (not in History, as originally planned) but in Clinical and Counseling Psychology.

In his final year in the masters program at Santa Clara University, Ian is spending most of his time working with elementary and high school kids through an internship. “It’s great experience, and allows me to try out some of the things I’ve learned over the last three years.” However, like most important experiences, his internship is unpaid and he has to work while going to graduate school. (“If you are ever in the south Bay Area, stop by Black Angus Steakhouse for a ribeye!”)

Ian’s sense of humor, intellect, and dedication contributed to his success as an undergraduate in the Political Science honors program and have continued to help him succeed in his graduate school journey as well.

My experiences at the U of O have greatly influenced my education at the master’s level… He’s now retired, but my favorite professor had to be Ken DeBevoise. His classes were unlike anything I’d ever experienced, and taught to me to learn and think in ways I did not know possible. For those reading – is anyone reading this?! – Ken’s classes were reading seminars. You had to read 75 pages everyday for 11 weeks, and come prepared to defend your perspective(s) during intense class discussion. More than almost anything else, his classes helped me to (eventually) become more comfortable expressing and defending my ideas verbally… you learned (even more) about how to be a thoughtful and serious thinker / human being. It may sound like a stretch, but I would not be the person I am today had it not been for Ken.

When he isn’t busy reading for school, Ian likes crime novels. (Perhaps, another indicator psychology was the right field for his studies?) Ian says, “I have recently been reading a lot of Greg Iles. He’s top-notch.” He also appreciates comedy, “mostly of the awkward or uncomfortable variety” and would recommend the show “Nathan for You” to any and all that will listen.

Ian continues to be curious about the world and spends as much time as possible reading history and keeping up with current political events, though he now filters them through a psychological lens.

This short alumni spotlight on Ian Fischer is a great example of how pursuing a Political Science honors distinction might help you find your deepest intellectual interests and frame how you can continue to pursue them in higher education and/or your career.

Thank you, Ian! Keep us posted on all your future endeavors and Go Ducks!


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