Leah Yaffe

Leah Yaffe (T '13)

Majoring in political science with a concentration in political theory was the best decision I made at Duke.  As a Visions of Freedom Focus student in my first semester, I took Dr. Michael Gillespie’s political theory course.  I had almost no background in political theory, and my first paper came back with so many red comments that I could barely read my original points.  Those comments were filled with questions I had not thought to ask, let alone begin to answer.  And in many ways, this is what my political science education became: learning what questions to ask of and about our society, and how to begin to answer them.  Duke political science taught me to see and appreciate the many nuances of theoretical debates that remain critically important today.  And that is why Duke was wonderful. 

My favorite classes were those that left me with more questions than I had when I walked in and led me to new ideas I might never have considered but for the privilege of being taught by excellent faculty alongside smart and ideologically diverse peers.  One of my highlights at Duke was writing a senior thesis.  I was fortunate enough to be advised by Dr. Gillespie, who has been an intellectually challenging and thoughtful mentor since that first marked-up paper. 

After graduation, I worked on Capitol Hill for Senator Harry Reid (D-NV), primarily as a legislative correspondent for the national security team.  I loved transitioning from abstract discussion to concrete application, and was ever grateful that my Duke education had prepared me for the fast-paced complexity of the Hill.  I spent two years in D.C. before deciding to go to Stanford Law School, where I am interested in exploring the relationship between law and policy.