Evan Harris

Politics & International Affairs: Elizabeth Seagroves

Growing up in Rocky Mount, N.C., Elizabeth Seagroves was inspired to pursue a degree in politics & international affairs after watching her parents work to mitigate systemic discrimination on the basis of race and socioeconomic status in her hometown. 

Her father, a public school teacher and coach, was an important role model for her as he taught her what de facto racial segregation looked like in practice and how it denied opportunities to different groups of people. Both of her parents were incredibly involved in community work, and having these principles modeled for Seagroves throughout her childhood was integral in guiding her career path. 

Her desire to study this field was only strengthened after transferring to a school with a STEM-based curriculum halfway through high school, where she took engineering classes. Seagroves’ involvement with STEM made her realize the field was not for her, and she then began taking classes in American studies with a teacher, for whom she would eventually become a teaching assistant.

“When I got to Wake Forest, I had some incredible professors who were also interested in racial and ethnic politics that I just really formed a bond with,” Seagroves said. “It took off from there.”

Seagroves mentioned Dr. Mark Vail as a faculty member that had a significant impact on her as a mentor over the course of her journey at Wake Forest. 

[Seagroves] is a remarkable student, and it has been a great pleasure playing some small part in her experience at Wake Forest,” Vail said. “She is extremely bright, self-possessed and thoughtful with a degree of intellectual sophistication that goes well beyond her years.”

Vail continued: “What’s more, she is profoundly ethical and humane with real commitment to making the world a better place. In many respects, she is the ideal student — just the right mixture of brains and soul and a deep commitment to learning for its own sake.”

Seagroves’ love for research, combined with her affinity for teaching and spreading knowledge, have motivated her to pursue a career in academia as she aims to become a professor. She wants to be able to have an impact on policy and local communities through these goals. After graduation, she will be entering a Ph.D. program in political science at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill. She aims to focus her research on racial politics as they are connected to social policy and education. 

“A lot of us in the politics major are tackling these major questions that have been around for centuries, these problems that we still haven’t figured out how to solve,” Seagroves said. “The logical part of my brain gets really frustrated when there’s not one answer. Learning how to grapple with the fact that there are no perfect answers is something that is really challenging for me.”

Seagroves spoke about how her research mentor, Dr. Betina Wilkinson, largely motivated and encouraged her to choose this career path.

“Beth Seagroves has served as my student, undergraduate research assistant, co-author, ‘PS: Political Science and Politics’ student editorial assistant and RIPI  website assistant,” Wilkinson said. “As we have gotten to know each other quite well these last few years, I have continuously been impressed with her academic ability, maturity and commitment to social justice.”

Wilkinson continued: “I am so happy for and proud of Beth, for her work at Wake Forest University and what is to come as she pursues a Ph.D. in political science at UNC Chapel Hill. She truly exemplifies the model Wake Forest student.”

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