“Growing up in the suburbs of Dallas does not really do much to culture someone. After traveling to Morocco under the State Department’s NSLI-Y program in the summer of 2015, I was set on traveling the world and working with people from other nations on global issues. Nothing seemed to fit the job description better than becoming a Naval Officer and an International Studies major. After receiving my NROTC placement within the LREC (Language Skills, Regional Expertise, and Cultural Awareness) Program I was even closer to that goal.

The International Studies major was more than I could have asked for in a college program. From a long list of electives, I was able to build a degree plan that allowed me to enjoy some classes on my own interests while also broadening my horizons. This allowed me to focus on a variety of regional areas including Latin America, The Middle East, Africa, and Russia. I would not have believed as a freshman that I would eventually have the option to run a nationwide University funded political survey as a junior. However, thanks to the flexibility of the Program in International and Comparative Studies, I got that opportunity.

I will be forever grateful for the lessons taught to me and the friends made while in this program. And remember, wherever you go, GO BLUE!”

Thomas McGowan

BA International Studies (International Security, Norms and Cooperation) ‘21

Hometown: McKinney, Texas

Affiliations: University of Michigan Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps (NROTC), Michigan Fly Fishing Club, Backpacking Club, Sigma Iota Rho - International Studies Honor Society 

Future plans: “After I graduate, I will accept a commission into the United States Navy as a Surface Warfare Officer, after which I will report to the USS Oscar Austin DDG-79 homeported out of Naval Station Norfolk, VA to begin the process of becoming a fully qualified Surface Warfare Officer. Eventually, I hope to be selected for Naval Intelligence or the Navy’s Foreign Area Officer Program. After completing my initial commitment to the United States Navy, I hope to return to graduate school and complete a master’s degree in International Affairs or History and return to the fleet.”

Fondest memory of his experience in PICS: “I think that my fondest memory in PICS would be taking INTLSTD 401 - Refugee Voices with Professor Uehling. She taught about a subject she was passionate about which helped the students in the class really stay engaged and become passionate themselves about the material. A challenge over Zoom no doubt.”

Is there anything you would like to express to your peers, parents, professors, or others?: “I would like to thank my family and friends for supporting me during the last four years. I would also like to thank the fantastic professors that have helped shape my education, Professor Uehling, Professor Marwil, Professor Cole, and all the others who taught me invaluable lessons in the classroom, and helped me to better understand the world around me.”