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Marie Johnson-Dahl

MARIE JOHNSON-DAHL ('16) did not always know what she wished to study when she got to the University of Illinois. In fact, it wasn't until her AP Comparative Government class in high school did she become interested in the field of political science. Even after choosing Political Science at Illinois, she continued to have uncertainty as to whether or not she chose the right major. "It's difficult to determine if you picked the right major once you get there because of the size of the classes. I wanted to make a change in the world when I was in high school." However, the Political Science Department was able to prove that she made the right decision.

“I looked at the curriculum, and the course offerings made me know I had picked the right major.” Later, she decided to take Introduction to Political Research, which increased her interest in conducting research of her own. Then, she reports, “I decided to apply to the Political Science Thesis Program… it automatically made my [Political Science] community much smaller.” Because of this, Johnson-Dahl was able to present her research at the Undergraduate Research Symposium and, later, in Springfield. Seeing first-hand the benefits of the program, she encourages every student who has an opportunity to apply to the honors program.

Johnson-Dahl emphasized that the relationships she developed with Political Science faculty enhanced her experience at Illinois. Her advice? GO TO OFFICE HOURS AS MUCH AS YOU CAN! “I think establishing relationships with professors is what made my political science experience a good one.”

Eventually, she would find that the resources in the Department of Political Science would go on to help Johnson-Dahl in her career even after graduating. When speaking of her decision to continue her post-graduate studies in Law at Illinois, she said, "I saw that a lot of the senators and congressmen in DC that were making a change went to law school.” Through her internship with the Champaign County Public Defender’s Office, a pre-law advisor encouraged her to work at a law firm if she was on the fence. This advice led her to work at the Litigation Department team at Kirkland & Ellis LLP following graduation, and then back to Illinois as a student in the College of Law.

Ms. Johnson-Dahl can be reached at


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