Uncategorized, Undergraduate Programs

The Story of a Political Science Alum

The Wedding party and guests standing behind a bride and groom while holding up a Clarkson University flag

The Department of Humanities & Social Sciences, offers bachelor’s degree programs in history, literature, interdisciplinary liberal studies, interdisciplinary social sciences, political science, and social documentation (a double major in communication and a humanities/social sciences major). We are a place where Clarkson students truly have the opportunity to explore their interests. While some students take their first couple of years to find their passions, others have an idea before they start their freshman year.

When our humanities and social sciences students leave Clarkson, they leave on a path to success, whether working in industry or attending graduate programs. We love connecting students with our alumni and corporate partners and watching these connections pay off to create successful, meaningful careers and lives for our graduates.

Today we’re featuring Alex Nichols, one of our successful alums who graduated in 2014 from Malone, NY, who is now a lawyer for the St. Lawrence County District Attorneys Office. Here is his story:

How it Started

I graduated in 2014, and I grew up in Malone. I actually started at the Clarkson School and graduated from there in 2011.

Alex Nicols in Graduation regalia standing with his wife
My wife, and I after my graduation.

I chose Clarkson at first because of the Clarkson School program. I wasn’t really challenged in High School and wanted to be in a more independent environment. The Clarkson School was a perfect place for that. Once I started there and got integrated into the community I knew I didn’t want to leave Clarkson. The academic support was awesome and I was excited for some of the class offerings. That year I decided I wanted to for sure go to law school and become a lawyer. I knew I had other options for college but I chose to stay at Clarkson because I really enjoyed the small campus environment and the level of support that I was getting academically. I was able to tell early on that I wasn’t just a number to the professors in the Department and that they cared about setting me up for success with what I wanted to do after undergrad. I liked how close-knit everyone was and the campus culture overall. After deciding on staying at Clarkson I was pretty sure I wanted to be a lawyer. I majored in History and Political Science and had a pre-law minor.

Even though it is predominately a business and engineering school, High Schoolers shouldn’t sleep on it if they’re looking to go to law school. I found that I was one of the most prepared people for the level of work and type of thinking that is required in law school. I think this was mainly due to the way classes were taught and the level of work that was expected by my professors. They made us think, write, and speak analytically in a way that other students just didn’t know how to do walking into law school. Especially when it came to my analytical reading skills and reading cases for class, I found that Clarkson taught me to look at things in a different way and that I had a head start over other students.

The Relationships

There are two professors at Clarkson that I will never forget. Lou Anne Lange was my academic advisor and a history professor. I loved her classes because they were extremely interesting and her ability to contextualize everything was awesome. She knew that I wanted to go to law school and so when I took a class with her I knew that she expected my work to be at a different level. She pushed me to be a better, more analytical, writer.

The other is Christopher Robinson. He made us think and read cases just like we do in law school. He really gave me a framework to look at, read cases, and distill the important information to be ready for class. He also taught my senior thesis class which was a substantial writing project. That experience was awesome and a great way to learn to synthesize information and communicate it effectively like a lawyer needs to be able to do.

I also met some of my closest friends at Clarkson. The most important being my wife. We were both involved in Greek Life and I met most of my friends that way. I was in BT and my wife was in Phi Sig. Our house was right behind Phi Sig, and I met her one afternoon after finals in May. Those relationships really helped me through school and continue on today. It created a deep sense of community and formed bonds that really will last a lifetime. Most of my time on the weekends was spent with them. We spent so much time together and made awesome memories that will last forever. My wife and I got married in October 2018. Four of my friends and three of my wife’s friends from Clarkson were in our wedding. My wife is now an RN and will be an NP in May when she graduates with a master’s in nursing. I am still very close with many people from Clarkson, including another couple who we travel with multiple times a year. They both graduated from Clarkson too.

How it’s Going

Alex Nicoles standing next to a placard displaying 'Congratulations New York's Newest Attorneys!'

I really can’t overstate how well Clarkson set me up for law school. I saw other students who were overwhelmed and trying to understand the material during the first year of law school. I just didn’t feel that the same way, and I credit Clarkson for that. And it wasn’t just me. One of my classmates, who I still keep in contact with, also went to law school. She also found that she was more prepared than most other people in her law school class, and was able to comprehend information in a different way.

I graduated from Roger Williams School of Law in 2017 and was admitted to the New York Bar in January 2018. I have been at the St. Lawrence County DA’s Office since May of 2019.

My wife and I truly enjoy being back in the North country and being close to our alma mater. I am very grateful for the opportunities and the extensive preparation for graduate school that I was able to attain while attending Clarkson. I am so very fortunate it set me up for a wonderful future.

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