Poli-Sci alumna shares success story and advice with future grads

Dr. Thomsen recently published a book on the polarization of Congress

Karly Kaufman
Staff Writer

Danielle Thomsen is a current assistant professor for the Political Science Department at Syracuse University.

She recently published her first book, “Opting Out of Congress: Partisan Polarization and the Decline of Moderate Candidates,” which investigates who runs for Congress and the ideological range of these candidates.

Originally from South Dakota, Thomsen said that she always knew she wanted to attend college.

“I always knew I would go to college, but as to where wasn’t a huge thought to me,” Thomsen stated.

She debated between Duluth and Mankato, but with the larger scholarship and welcoming environment, Mankato was the winner.

“[MNSU] was close enough to home and what I was comfortable with but would still give me a new college experience,” she said.

During her undergraduate studies, Thomsen was the president of the College Democrats on campus. She balanced her political activism with her academic studies. One of the things she admires about being a student is that “college is the only time where you will read Aristotle and that is something that is really unique.”

The professors that left a mark on her undergraduate studies include Political Science professors Tom Inglot, Doran Hunter, and Joe Kunkel. She celebrates professors that put their time and effort into making a lasting impression.

“Professors give a lot and want to help you and want you to grow and make the most of your life,” Thomsen said. For her, this includes the role of advocates and cheerleaders as a student progresses through their years of study.

After graduating from MNSU, Thomsen moved to Washington D.C. and worked for former United States Senator, Tim Johnson. However, she found it underwhelming and found a job as a tour guide at the Capital. She was accepted to Cornell University for her master’s where she worked on her dissertation. She chose to go to Duke University for a year to work with scholars of political parties, but returned to Cornell to publish a couple papers, and then back to Duke for her Ph.D. She was offered a teaching position at Syracuse and is currently on her third academic teaching year.

Dr. Thomsen plans to remain a professor in hopes of “being an active member of [her] scholarly community.”

“I hope I enjoy what I’m working on [in the future] and that I can teach and work on courses that are inspiring to me and my students and that are important even beyond academia,” she said.

Her advice for future graduates?

“Do what you’re interested in, do what you like, and follow what your passions are. College is the time to figure out what those entail,” she said.

For Thomsen, persistence is a key ingredient to success.

“In order to be successful in any way, you have to continue to push forward,” she said.

To find out more information about Dr. Thomsen or about her new book, check out her website, Dr. Thomsen would also like to extend a special thank you to MNSU for putting in years of hard work for its students.

Gabe Hewitt

Gabe is a junior mass media student at MSU. He's usually up for anything. You can find him on Twitter (@gabehewitt) or you can email him at

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