Allyson Eslin: Triple major aiming for public office

For University of Maine student Allyson Eslin, one major was not enough. Neither were two.

It took three majors — political science, psychology and economics — as well as being a student in the Honors College to fulfill her academic pursuits.

The Bangor native, who plans to graduate in 2017, also works as a research assistant for economics professor Caroline Noblet, and is the opinion editor for the Maine Campus newspaper.

She recently was nominated by UMaine for the Peter Madigan Congressional Internship. If selected, Eslin will spend a semester working in the Washington, D.C. office of Sen. Angus King.

Eslin also received the Lavery Scholarship for Academic Excellence from the School of Economics and was one of two recipients of the 2015–2016 Margaret Chase Smith Public Affairs Scholarship. The public affairs scholarship will fund her research on political decision-making and its relationship with fiscal and social ideologies.

How did you decide to pursue three majors?
I like to joke that it was more a product of indecisiveness than ambition, but the truth is that a lot of consideration went into the process. I’ve always wanted to challenge myself academically, so when I entered UMaine’s Political Science program as a first-year and discovered that, thanks to my Advanced Placement credits, I would be slated to graduate very early, I decided to take that extra time to pursue other interests. The three I stuck with were the three that interested me, but also the three I felt would make me an effective legislator in the future — my eventual goal being to hold public office.

Describe your experience working as a research assistant:
I’ve been very lucky to work with Caroline Noblet since the summer following my first year — part time during the semester and full time during summer breaks. I was recommended to her after taking an introductory economics course for curiosity’s sake and was eventually persuaded to join the department (economics is my tertiary, and final, major).

Since I began work as a research assistant, I’ve done innumerable, absolutely fascinating things. Having the ability to analyze and write-up data, interact in a professional manner, organize and run experiments and conduct various other formatting and bookkeeping tasks has been integral to getting as far as I have.

Describe your job as opinion editor for the Maine Campus:
My job with the Maine Campus was another piece of my life that I could have never anticipated. I’ve been incredibly opinionated for as long as I can possibly remember, but it wasn’t until I came to college that I really found and refined my voice.

I applied to be an opinion columnist for the paper last year on a whim, after seeing an advertisement on the opinion page. For three or four months, I wrote weekly contributions, and — at the urging of my then-editor — applied for the position as she was preparing to graduate.

I now manage five or so employees, and spend nearly my entire Sunday refining weekly columns they send to me for publication. The job is one of those experiences that you can’t predict beforehand, but which create a self you can’t imagine not being.

What began as a foray into media became something much deeper — I believe that a better understanding of how journalism works will help me shape my message appropriately if I ever do run for a political position.

Walk us through a typical day in your life this semester:
No matter what the day may be, I start my morning with a large hot Earl Grey tea with cream and Splenda.

Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I spend the earliest part of my mornings in my spoken Russian course. The moment that class ends, I head across campus to my first job for the day at the School of Economics in Winslow Hall.

There, I record and organize any surveys we’ve received back from our most recent survey effort. The surveys we’re currently conducting are about coastal water quality, seafood health and beach management.

After two or so hours there, I head to the Maine Campus office in the Memorial Union and catch up on emails. I typically spend that time communicating with my employees and getting any paperwork done.

Mondays, I also have a thesis class.

I usually take the city bus from Bangor, so being done by the last bus can be a bit of a hustle.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, I have classes straight from early morning until late afternoon. I cycle through microeconomic theory, civil liberties and behavioral neuroscience lessons, then finish the day with another hour or so of research work for my scholarship in the library. I then catch the last bus, and head home to finish homework.

Have you worked closely with a professor or mentor who made your UMaine experience better?
So many phenomenal people have made my UMaine experience what it is now — Mary Cathcart, Amy Fried, Robert Glover, Sandra Goff and Mario Teisl have all made my time here completely unforgettable.

The one professor who has had the greatest effect on me, though, is most certainly Caroline Noblet. Caroline has served as both an academic and personal guidepost for me since those early months. She is someone who is understanding, but who also gives me attainable goals and expectations, and isn’t afraid to get down to the nitty-gritty if something isn’t working.

She’s been an exceptional force for good in my life, and has always been there to offer guidance on anything from class selection to time management and Harry Potter house sorting.

Why UMaine?
I moved back to Maine early in high school, after being away for several years, to live with my father. Though I applied to several schools, I ultimately was charmed by the excellent scholarship opportunities, personable faculty and proximity to my family. Now that I’ve spent so much time on campus, I couldn’t imagine going to any other institution — the research opportunities, support and sense of community on campus are second to none.

What difference has UMaine made in your life and in helping you reach your goals?
Though I’ve spoken a lot about the university’s academic support for me, the university also has been there for me in a more personal sense. During my first semester on campus, I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes. Without the support of Disability Support Services, my incredibly understanding professors, the Commuter and Non-Traditional Student Programs’ commuter lounge, and my academic advisers, I may have deferred schooling or stopped attending altogether after my hospitalization. Providing this moral, financial and academic support is integral to allowing disabled and chronically ill students to succeed.

What extracurricular activities occupy your time?
Beyond academics and work, I typically write novels, play the flute, read and paint. Had I not pursued my legislative interests, I likely would have thought about becoming a novelist or poet — as it is, I have a few completed book projects under my belt.

What are your plans for after graduation?
Beginning my senior year and for the two years following graduation, I plan to complete a dual master’s program in global policy and resource economics. I’ll be completing this program at UMaine through the School of Economics and School of Policy and International Affairs, hopefully as a graduate research assistant. Once I’ve received this degree, I plan to apply to and hopefully attend law school in Washington D.C. with the goal of entering the FBI as an analyst or translator, and eventually becoming a state or federal legislator.