M.A. in Political Science, European Union Policy Studies

Unfinished Business

My decision process behind choosing EUPS

Bryan Eagle


By Bryan Eagle

While eating dinner in my Florence apartment, I began to reflect on just how I got here. Just over a year ago, my life was plagued with uncertainties. Undergraduate graduation loomed over my head, and I had no idea what my next steps would be. Little did I know at the time that I would move 5,000 miles across the Atlantic Ocean to Florence, Italy to pursue a M.A. in Political Science. If it was not for James Madison University, I would be living an entirely different life.

Global affairs has always been one of my passions, but I was not sure how I could pursue this interest  after completing my undergraduate degree. I juggled with the idea of the Air Force and working for the government in some capacity, but nothing seemed to stick. I considered graduate school but was not sure where to look. I was lost and overwhelmed. So, I did what most undergraduate seniors often do…procrastinate. However, I could only avoid the topic for so long. My Italian Professor at George Mason University, Professor Kristina Olson, was surprised at my uncertainty. She was confused as to why I would throw away four years of Italian and not pursue my passion for global affairs. She implored me to consider graduate school. Professor Olson informed me about JMU’s European Union Policy Studies program and encouraged me to apply. She knew that I studied in Florence, Italy before and thought that it would be a great way to continue enhancing my education. She pushed me one step further and inspired me to apply to be a graduate research assistant for the program. I was hesitant to take on all the responsibility, but after researching the program I decided it was the perfect fit for me. It combined my passion for global affairs with my love for the Italian language and culture.

At first glance, the application process seemed daunting. I still had doubts about my future and if I would be able to do the program. Professor Olson never gave up on me. She guided me throughout the process and suggested I reach out to the Executive Director of the EUPS program, Dr. Scherpereel. I emailed Dr. Scherpereel and bombarded him with questions, all of which he answered quickly and thoughtfully. His help made this stressful process, go seamlessly. Now all I had to do was wait. 

I was elated and in disbelief when I received the acceptance. From then on, I worked closely with James Madison’s Center for Global Engagement. Filling out paperwork and applying for visas is never a fun task, but with their patience everything went smoothly. I found myself constantly checking my emails for updates from the program, eager for any news. I prepared for the program by devouring the books on the EUPS summer reading list. I practiced my Italian and ate pasta in preparation. 

Summer came and went with anticipation of the semesters to come. I was eager to be reunited with Florence. The city holds an incredible amount of history and culture. There will always be something new to explore and something new to learn. Before I knew it, I was back walking through the streets of Florence. I missed the excitement of the city and the smell of freshly cooked basil on pizza. As soon as I walked through the doors of JMU’s palazzo, I knew that I had made the right choice. All the chaos and uncertainty that consumed senior year was worth it. I am extremely fortunate for all the people who encouraged me and guided me along the way. For any scholars interested European politics, who wish to push the boundaries of their knowledge, I implore you do so in no other city and with no other program than this one.

Bryan Eagle is a member of the EUPS class of 2020, he is a Research Assistant to Dr. Silvia D’Amato. He graduated from George Mason University in 2019 with a degree in Global Affairs and a minor in Italian.

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Published: Sunday, October 13, 2019

Last Updated: Thursday, June 17, 2021

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