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Master's in Political Science, Applicant from Ghana

Since I was born and raised in Ghana, I am all too aware that corruption is still a sad reality in the governance of my own and many other countries. My decision to study politics for my bachelor degree was fired by a hope that I might, eventually, be part of the solution to it. I see innovative ways of formulating and implementing policy decisions and e-governance as providing ways of reducing the opportunities for corrupt interference and for identifying ‘best practices’ and applying them widely among governments at all levels and in many countries. I know that I am not going to solve deep-seated and long-standing problems alone and that they will not be resolved quickly but I feel strongly that the more qualified and committed people who pursue these desirable goals, the more likely and quickly that they will be reached. I seek to be one of those doing so. Thus, I hope very much to continue my education in Political Science by earning the Master’s Degree at XXXX University.

I hold a bachelor degree in Political Studies awarded by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Ghana. I spent each of my university vacations working as an intern in the P.R. Department of the Municipal Assembly in the town of Tema. This experience provided me with a basic understanding of the procedures and protocols involved in policy and project decision-making and in implementation methods at municipal level. I was also made aware of the disadvantages of relatively unsophisticated IT systems and their under-use because of the lack of expertise which I understand is the case both at local and national levels.

During my undergraduate studies, I also undertook voluntary work providing political education to the market women in Kumasi. We explained their civil rights to them, the importance of using their vote and the ways in which they could challenge government decisions. This was a highly satisfying exercise which increased local awareness that politicians have to take ordinary people’s views into account if they are prepared to make them known.

I have been fascinated by the pioneering developments in Estonia and its efforts to apply IT solutions to the work of government in ever increasingly innovative ways. The results to date have been impressive especially for a nation that had a very basic and narrowly applied IT infrastructure so recently. I see Estonia’s rapid advances as a model for many countries but especially those in Africa. I hope to have an opportunity to visit the country at some point to see their systems in operation. Estonia will, as pioneers, have made errors along the way and these will also provide useful lessons for those countries introducing or extending e-governance at this time.

I look forward to a day when an ordinary citizen can gather, in real-time, all kinds of information about his government’s activities and expenditure and to undertake transactions with government departments from home at the citizen’s convenience rather than that of government employees. I see e-governance as a vehicle for the encouragement of transparency and honesty generally in government. I especially hope to see robust and honest computerised voting systems that do not require a voter to queue for hours and maybe, even then, be denied the right to vote because of some technicality.

I am aware of the enormous advantages of computer modelling the results of competing policies to judge their likely relative benefits to assist governments in reaching soundly based decisions and the optimum ways of implementing them. The more such proven models exist, the more widely they can be adjusted to local conditions and applied elsewhere. Governments could also benefit from rapidly and easily gathering public opinion on competing policies and the optimum ways to implement those chosen.

It is clear that some ‘vested interests’ will strongly resist e-governance especially in the most corrupt nations because it will by its nature, engender transparency and limit opportunities for abuses of power and corruption. However, I strongly believe that the ever-widening flow of information and opinion and increasingly ‘IT aware’ citizens will eventually create such an appreciation of the advantages of e-governance that there will demand its use.

Politics is a passion in my life and I read widely about the subject, naturally I have a special interest in Africa and Europe but have a growing interest in the Middle East because of the complex political situations and current and potential conflicts in the region.

To summarise: I hold a relevant bachelor degree, I have a genuine passion for the study of politics and government and of the benefits of e-governance, I am a committed and diligent person and can assure the reader that I shall apply himself with exceptional enthusiasm to this course of study for my own benefit and, hopefully, many others in my future career.

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Becoming a successful graduate student in Political Science is very different than being a successful undergraduate. Only the very best are accepted and able to make it. So you should only aim for grad school if you have good reason to believe that you're very promising as a student. Look over your grades so far and ask professors and peers you trust for their honest advice. Unfortunately, the bar gets raised again when it comes to moving from a PhD to the academic job market. Only a small fraction of PHD graduates will end up as tenure-track professors in large research universities.

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Statements of Excellence for Admission to Graduate School in Political Science

America’s powerful female politicians

The Heroines of Political Science

There are some great and under-appreciated women in politics. Lots of them! Here are some our favorites (we didn’t include any from the USA).

Angela Merkel, Germany

Angela Merkel is a German politician who is best known as the first female chancellor of Germany and one of the architects of the European Union. Merkel was born in Hamburg, West Germany, on July 17, 1954. She trained as a physicist, but entered politics after the 1989 fall of the Berlin Wall. Rising to the position of chairwoman of the Christian Democratic Union party, she became Germany's first female chancellor, and one of the leading figures of the European Union after the 2005 national elections.

Sonia Gandhi, India

Sonia Gandhi is an Italian-born Indian politician. She has served as President of the Indian National Congress party since 1998. Gandhi is the widow of former Prime Minister of IndiaRajiv Gandhi. After her husband's assassination in 1991, Gandhi was invited by Congress leaders to take over the government, but she refused and publicly stayed away from politics, though the party constantly nudged her in that direction.  She finally agreed to join politics in 1997, and in 1998, was elected President of the Congress party. Gandhi has served as the Chairperson of the United Progressive Alliance in the Lok Sabha since 2004. In September 2010, she was re-elected for the fourth time, and became the longest serving president in the 125-year history of the party. Gandhi’s foreign birth has been a subject of much debate and controversy. Her alleged friendship with Italian businessman Ottavio Quattrocchi was also controversial. He was accused of being a middleman in the Bofors scandal. Although Sonia is the fifth foreign-born person to be leader of the Congress Party, she is the first since India became independent in 1947.

Cristina Fernandez, Argentina

Cristina Fernandez, President of Argentina was also widowed by her political predecessor and husband Nestor Kirchner. Cristina Fernandez became the first elected female president of Argentina in 2007 and the first one to be reelected.

Although her politics as president has been marred with international controversy and allegations of corruption, Fernandez has appeased her citizens with huge job growth, reducing the national debt, protecting children’s welfare and an improved relationship with Peru. In 2010, she signed a bill that legalized same sex marriage in her country, which we think is great.

Julia Gillard, Australia

Julia Gillard is a former politician and was the first woman to serve as the leader of the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Prime Minster of Australia. She was active in politics from her college days. Her parents were admirers of the Welsh Labor leader Aneurin Bevan, who had helped establish Britain's National Health Service. Gillard joined the Victorian ALP in the later 1970s and became part of its Socialist Left Faction. She later commented that her experiences with the Australian Union of Students helped her learn how to negotiate, network and persuade.

Gillard had a brief career as a lawyer, during which she often represented the working poor. She decided that she could accomplish more in politics. Throughout her political career, Gillard has worked on issues as disparate as climate change, immigration, education, water policy, and information technology and disability reform. As a woman in a male-dominated field, she has had her share of rivals. She and Kevin Rudd worked together during his first team as Prime Minister, but they became rivals as both wanted to lead the ALP.

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma

Aung San Suu Kyi was born in Yangon, Myanmar. After years of living and studying abroad, she returned home only to find the widespread slaughter of protesters rallying against the brutal rule of dictator U Ne Win. Kyi spoke out against him and initiated a nonviolent movement to achieve democracy and human rights, but in 1989, the government placed Suu Kyi under house arrest. She spent 15 of the next 21 years in custody. In 1991, her ongoing efforts won her the Nobel Prize for Peace. She was finally released from house arrest in November 2010. She then held a seat in parliament for the National League for Democracy party, until 2015. That November, the NLD won a landslide victory. It gave them a majority control of parliament and allowing them to select the country's next president. It March 2016, Suu Kyi's adviser Htin Kyaw was selected for the post. The following month, Suu Kyi was named the state counsellor, a position above the presidency that allows her to direct the country's affairs.

Queen Rania Al Abdullah, Jordan

Born in Kuwait, Queen Rania was forced to flee during the first Gulf War in 1991, Queen Rania's early life was much like thousands of other Palestinians'.

In 1993, she met Prince Abdullah II bin al-Hussein of Jordan at a party. The two were married six months later. Rania is a strong progressive female voice in the Arab world and a powerful global advocate for education, women's rights and health.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberia

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the world's first elected black female president. She’s Africa's first elected female head of state. Born in Liberia in 1938, Johnson Sirleaf was educated in the United States. She was the victim of a military coup in 1980, which sent her into exile, but she returned in 1985 to speak out against the military regime. When she won the 2005 election, Johnson Sirleaf became the first female elected head of state in Africa. She was one of a trio of women to win the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.

Atifete Jahjaga, Kosovo

In April 2011, Atifete Jahjaga became Kosovo’s first female president and nonpartisan candidate. At age 37, she is also the youngest president in its history.

Prior to her presidency, Jahjaga was an international interpreter, a police officer, deputy commander of the border police, and the deputy director of the Kosovo Police, holding one of the highest ranks among Southeastern European women.