A Switch from STEM to Government Fit This Schar School Scholar


This is part of the Schar School's student-to-student story series where undergraduates are interviewed and profiled by their peers.

Ruthu Josyula discovered a passion for government as a senior in high school through her involvement in speech and debate. She knew she wanted to attend college in Virginia and investigated universities with government programs. Fairfax proved far enough away from home but still near bustling Washington, D.C., so George Mason University and the Schar School of Policy and Government felt like a good fit.

Schar School student Ruthu Josyula standing and smiling in front of a brick building while wearing a green jacket
Schar School student Ruthu Josyula has explored her career goals through a wide range of school activities. Photo provided

 Not only was it in the perfect location, but Mason provided me with all of the tools I needed to begin delving into government,” she said.

Josyula attended a magnet high school, which focused on math and science. She had planned to be an architect, but switched to a government and international politics major because she was fascinated to learn about how government works and what role it plays in everyday life. 

As a freshman, Josyula applied to the Democracy Lab, a first-year residential learning community, led by Associate Professor Jennifer Victor. As a member of the Democracy Lab, students live with peers who share a passion for learning and civic action. Students enroll in a government course, take part in customized field trips to important institutions in the Washington, D.C., area, and hear from prominent guest speakers. All of these opportunities build a strong network of students, professors, mentors, and advisors that contribute to students’ future success. 

I was so nervous to enter a completely different area of study, but Democracy Lab was an essential step in my smooth transition,” she said. “I have met my closest friends through the program.”

Josyula had such an eye-opening experience with the Democracy Lab that, as a sophomore, she joined another learning community, the International Relations Policy Task Force, led by Associate Professor Eric McGlinchey, where sophomores, juniors, and seniors engage deeply in pressing worldwide challenges.

“This learning community will give me insight on how governments interact on a global scale,” she said.

Not only is Josyula fully immersed in Schar School programs, but she is also on the executive board of several clubs, most notably Bridge. As the name suggests, Bridge’s mission is to encourage civic dialogue on campus; it is strictly nonpartisan and specializes in mediating.

Josyula’s passion, when she is not leading a Bridge meeting or discussing international relations with Professor McGlinchey, is traveling. Another factor that led to her choosing Mason was the Global Gateway program, which allows first-year students to study abroad. She chose to travel to Morocco.

“I was shocked that I had the chance to leave the country as early as my first year,” she said. “It was a transformative adventure, and I plan to continue traveling the world.”

Having learned so much from her professors and peers, Josyula is excited for the next stage of her academic career. She plans to seek an internship in Washington, D.C. While internships are highly competitive, Josyula feels confident that she has gained marketable collaboration skills through her involvement with the Schar School’s learning communities.