By Grace Nelms

This election season was long; I feel like I’ve aged a lifetime in the last year and a half. But, now it is over and now we must all look forward. For pollsters, that means figuring out where the numbers went wrong and revamping their systems to better indicate the outcome of the next election. For Donald Trump, it’s preparing to take the most powerful office in the country and become the leader and advocate for all American citizens. As for the rest of us, it’s now time to figure out what our place is under a new president, especially for those of us who were in middle school when President Obama was elected and have come of age during his term. I, for one, feel particularly grateful to be a Political Science major at UGA right now because my classes have given me the resources to better understand the political process and the significance of this election.

I was in American Political Development with Dr. Carson last spring and we would start almost every class talking about the election season that had just begun. We often joked about the large field of Republican candidates and, like almost everyone else, considered Donald Trump to be a temporary sensation. However, as the months went by, the uniqueness of this campaign cycle shifted our dialogue. As the spring semester ended and the fall began, the election discussions going on in my classes and with my friends drastically changed. The candidate we thought had no chance in the world was gaining traction, and what we thought we knew about American politics was being seriously challenged. As a political science student, the astonishing results in this election have challenged me think more about the political practices and institutions that I took for granted. This has helped me realize that I will always be learning more about American politics, campaigns, and voting practices.

The rhetoric of this election has also helped me fully realize that what happens on the national political stage not only influences academic discussions in the classroom, but has serious impacts on the day-to-day lives of American citizens. Because I am graduating in the spring, I need to figure out how what I learn about in my classes will translate into a career, and this election has helped me solidify what I am passionate about and see just how messy politics can be. Instead of scaring me, this has made me feel even more confident that I want to wade into the craziness and work in government relations for an activist organization and perhaps run for office one day. This has been a historical election and one that I will certainly never forget.