Department of Political Science

2016-2017 Honours Students Profiles


Elinor Hammond


Elinor Hammond - Honours 2016-2017


During my time out of school, I found myself wondering why the world works the way it does; what prompts the decisions of our world's leaders? How do these decisions affect both the people around me, and people I've never met? I also found myself wondering how I would find my own role in all of this. This prompted me to apply to Saint Mary's, an institution I was confident would support and guide me through these questions. My double major in Political Science and International Development Studies has given me the opportunity to explore and examine the multiplicity of the world - how contemporary issues came to be, and what possible solutions might be - in a way I would not have been able to outside of this academic setting.


I now have the opportunity to take part in the Political Science Honours Program at SMU. I hope to research the ways in which acts of humanitarian intervention have affected decisions made by states and international law. I plan to incorporate both Political Science and International Development theories and practices to best examine this complex issue. 




Cassie Hill


Cassie Hill - Honours 2016-2017


Along the way throughout the past five years while navigating through the whirlwinds of decision making and what turned out to be happy accidents, I fortunately stumbled into a lovely Saint Mary’s BA within the Political Science Honours Programme; one of the most rewarding happy accidents of all. In the beginning, I leaned toward other areas of interest, such as my love of learning about global issues within international development or my 'love of knowledge’ within the field of philosophy and realized there was so much to gain from the combination of all three.


With a Major in Political Science and a Minor in Philosophy, I discovered first-hand that these disciplines are intertwined and completely relevant in a focused, albeit all-encompassing and interdisciplinary way. I saw that there was so much room for opportunity to grow and expand my learning if I stepped out of my comfort zone by accepting new increasingly challenging academic pursuits, including areas I’ve never studied. I am so glad to be where I am today, knowing that I ventured into what I had previously held up to be an intimidating and unattainable discipline of focus. Within the broad field of Political Science, there are so many areas on which to concentrate and it is an area of study that can be applicable to anyone and everyone; just as long as they are inhabitants of planet earth!


Moreover, I have truly grown to thoroughly enjoy my experiences within the program over the past few years both inside and outside of the classroom. Programs such as the National Model United Nations have really enriched my experience as a student and individual. The faculty of the Political Science Department alone, and collectively, have been the most helpful role models, friends and colleagues. Their guidance has shaped me into an aspiring individual that is no longer afraid to push herself and try things that, to me, used to be unachievable. I am eternally grateful for the character-building and multifaceted learning I have undergone by way of commitment to this program, and I look forward to what is ahead in my post-Honours undergraduate work; knowing I have the tools to succeed in whatever educational endeavour of my choosing.




Sydney Hull


Sydney Hull - Honours 2016-2017


I grew up just outside of Halifax in Cole Harbour, Nova Scotia. Being from a town that’s more or less known for its famous hockey players, sports, hockey and outdoor activities have always been a huge part of my life. In hindsight, it’s also evident that I’ve always had a love for politics (full disclosure: I’ve since realized that it’s not exactly common for school-aged kids to memorize election signs from the back of their mothers’ car).


Studying Political Science was never part of my original plan. However, life often likes to pleasantly surprise us and I could not be happier that I found my way here. The professors, courses and opportunities that exist within the SMU Political Science department continually amaze me. I’ve travelled to New York City with the Model United Nations program twice, attended fascinating guest lectures, taken courses on spying and the conflict in Northern Ireland and volunteered at the Halifax International Security Forum. My favorite part of Political Science at SMU is how much the professors genuinely care about enhancing and maximizing their students’ learning experiences.


That same student-focused mentality made conceptualizing an honours project that much easier. I’m excited to be working on a thesis in the subfield of Canadian politics. My project will examine civil society, movement parties, and hopefully include a segment that compares Canada and the UK.


When I’m not studying I enjoy music, travelling and generally spending as much time outside as I can. 




Alex Isenor


Alex Isenor - Honours 2016-2017


Having lived my whole life in Halifax, the city is near to my heart. I chose to attend Saint Mary’s University as a change of career. Originally I had focused on tourism, but underneath I was always fascinated with trying to understand the human animal. I spent a lot of my time thinking about the nature of people, and the interactions I observed. I studied entry level Psychology and Sociology when I began my degree at Saint Mary’s, but it was my Political Science classes that really hooked me. It was particularly when I heard the field described as the study of power relations that I knew I was on the right path.

So many of the world’s problems have viable solutions, but the barriers that exist are political; human. My studies include a double major with History, and something that kept arising was the topic of war and war crimes. These extreme examples of human behaviour flummoxed me in a way I could not reconcile. My honours research is focused on the prevalence of sexual violence in armed conflict. I have studied human behaviour, international relations, and the history of war crimes, and I cannot yet put the pieces of the puzzle together, although I am sure it has to do with power. I will combine a study of specific cases of these atrocities with the study of the concept of hegemonic masculinity to hopefully come up with an overall understanding.




Aaron Johnston


Aaron Johnston - Honours 2016-2017


Being born and raised in Halifax and attending a small inner city private school I have always been accustomed to small class sizes. I chose Saint Mary’s for a few reasons: the small class sizes, family alumni of the university and their great experiences with the university, as well as the proximity of the university. I have always been passionate about politics. Having family members in the media, I have always been surrounded by news coverage, the dialogue of politicians, and political debates.


I very much appreciate the dedicated Political Science professors who put so much time and effort into making the courses interesting and engaging. Through my courses at Saint Mary’s I have gained a much deeper understanding of my areas of interest in public policy and international relations. I am very grateful for the experiential learning opportunities the Model UN program has offered me. For two consecutive years, I attended the National Model United Nations conference in New York, once as a delegate and the second time as a mentoring delegate. Both conferences enabled me to hone my debating and critical thinking skills. The second conference really allowed me as a mentor to pass down the knowledge I had gained and train a new delegate, which was very rewarding.   

My honours thesis delves into policy and policy development in healthcare at the metalevel. In looking at policy development, I will focus on the unprecedented release of the federal government’s mandate letters, specifically the mandate letter for Federal Health Minister Jane Philpott. I will explore the ways in which Minister Philpott is following the mandates by analyzing the various bills and legislation that are being put forward or implemented by Health Canada under her leadership. Thus, my thesis will address the current concerns in the Canadian Healthcare system, such as privatization, long wait times, and the degree to which healthcare legislation is changing from the prior Conservative administration.  




John-Paul N. Nwaezeigwe


John-Paul N. Nwaezeigwe - Honours 2016-2017 ‌


From an early age I discovered my passion for politics, public policy discussion and government. As a student born and raised in Nigeria, these topics where never far from every day conversation as well as academic debates. This passion was key in my decision to pursue a double major in Economics and Political Science at Saint Mary’s University. Over the years I have come to deeply appreciate this university and its culture of accepting and valuing diversity, which has allowed an international student like me to flourish in my academic pursuits and general pursuits. The Political Science Department in particular has been most instrumental in the development of both my personal character and approach towards learning.


I am grateful to be a student in the Political Science Department; the passion towards the courses and genuine concern for students shown by the professors has heightened my desire to research and work within this field of study. A diverse range of valuable experiences, from being a research and teaching assistant with department professors to being a member of this school’s delegation in 2016 to the National Model United Nations Conference in New York, have all helped to profoundly change my outlook towards the world.


My honors thesis is in the subfield of International Relations. With my research, I aim to investigate and better understand the implementation of humanitarian intervention in the world during conflicts especially in developing countries. I am looking forward to working on my thesis which will be a rewarding challenge in my academic journey here at Saint Mary’s University.