Stories from Political Science Alums and how they are using their University of Illinois degree now.

Amanda Sonneborn

AMANDA SONNEBORN (‘99) was born into a “very political” Springfield family, and she interned in the General Assembly while still in high school. Her decision to major in political science grew from this early interest in politics and her long-held plans to go to law school. She argues that great value of a political science degree is that it “helps an individual understand complex systems and personal interactions in a way that’s strategic.”

Meredith Wieck

MEREDITH WIECK ('09) works as a Feature Film Executive in the production and development department at Lionsgate, an entertainment studio based in Los Angeles, California. She began college as a psychology major, but in the second semester of her freshman year, she took an introductory class in political science, “fell in love with it,” and decided to make it her second major.

Michelle Mora

MICHELLE (EACK) MORA (‘11) entered college through the general curriculum program (a forerunner to the Division of General Studies) with hopes of studying business and going to law school. After exploring the curriculum a bit, she followed her heart to political science and Latin American Studies. During her time in the department, she was a participant in the Political Science Honors Program, which culminates in a senior thesis. Michelle calls the thesis the hardest thing she had done in her life to that point, but was very glad she pursued it.

Bill Billeaud

WILLIAM BILLEAUD (’85) is an international business executive. He is the President of Lombard Global, Incorporated, which provides investment banking and management consulting services to companies looking to expand their global presence.

Sara Cline-Howland

SARA CLINE-HOWLAND (‘10) was interested in history and politics while in high school, and a major in political science seemed like a natural fit. While at the U of I, she became President of her sorority and of the Panhellenic Council, and was a participant in the Civic Leadership Program.

David Adeleye

DAVID ADELEYE (’14) has spent the past few years working in multiple advisory roles within the Obama Administration at the White House and Department of Homeland Security. During his time at the University of Illinois, David was very involved on campus and held several leadership positions. He has also served as a mentor, both formally and informally, for a number of individuals pursuing political science and careers in public policy.

Mr. Adeleye can be reached via his website

Wendy Netter Epstein

WENDY NETTER EPSTEIN (‘99) entered the University of Illinois intending to go the “pre-med” route. However, when she started classes, she quickly learned that she enjoyed political science the most, and decided to combine her interests by pursuing a career in health policy and law.

Larry Harris

LARRY HARRIS, JR. (‘15) has always had an interest in government and foreign affairs, and that led him to the Department of Political Science. During his time as a student here, he had a number of great experiences in classes and extra-curricular activities, but points to his study abroad in Vienna, Austria (in a program led by Professor Vasquez) as “life-changing.”


TERRY WELCH (’76) grew up in Springfield with a Republican father and a Democratic mother who enjoyed engaging the family in political debate. Studying political science at the U of I felt like “a natural next step.” He was on campus during the Watergate era, a particularly interesting time to take political science courses! After graduation, he went on to study law at the University of Houston and public affairs at the LBJ School at the University of Texas at Austin.

Julia Azari

JULIA AZARI (‘02) started college hoping to be a journalist, and she selected political science because she hoped to do political journalism.  As she studied political science, she fell in love with the field.  She really enjoyed her classes with Professors Leff and Gaines, and one of her TAs suggested she might enter academia. She earned a doctorate at Yale University, and now is a professor at Marquette University.