Elon College Fellows

Greg Honan '14

"Welfare Narratives in United States Political Rhetoric: Stories, Power, and Contestation"

I graduated from Elon in 2014 with a degree in political science and started working at the Institute of Politics (IOP) at Harvard University that summer. After a year at the IOP, I left for my current position as research assistant to David Gergen at the Harvard Kennedy School. Without the support of the Elon College Fellows program, the Lumen Prize and my mentor, Laura Roselle, I would not be here. ECF taught me how to do three things: think like a political scientist, have an informed understanding of other disciplines and be profoundly curious. 

The first applies to all majors: ECF teaches you how to think like an aca-demic in your field. As a political science major, I learned how to analyze and criti-cize power and institutions—skills I find useful as a researcher, though also as a member of a large bureaucracy. Through my thesis on strategic narratives and U.S. welfare policy, I developed a lens to understand the world and the tools to dig through what I saw. Build-ing off my classes in the Department of Political Sci-ence and Policy Studies, ECF honed my skills as an observer and analyst of power and institutions. 

The second is true generally at a liberal arts college and particularly in ECF. I developed what Henry Rosovsky calls a “critical appreciation and in-formed acquaintance” with other disciplines. I en-gaged with artists, sociologists and physicists and came out better because of it. Knowing and appreciat-ing other paths of intellectual inquiry was crucial for the success of my ECF research, though I now see its importance for my work. The third is the greatest gift Elon gave me. The hours I spent talking with Profes-sor Roselle in her office, huddled over a book in Belk Library and debating with my ECF peers brought out my profound love for and deep curiosity in politics and history. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. said of his gen-eration, “Through our great good fortune, in our youth our hearts were touched with fire.” In ECF, my heart was touched with fire. I am ever grateful it was.