Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Ojeda

Christopher Ojeda ‘09 joins University of Tennessee faculty.

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Christopher Ojeda
Christopher Ojeda

After finishing his PhD in political science at Penn State in 2015, Ojeda moved on to Stanford University to work as a postdoctoral scholar and was hired as an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee in 2017. “The University of Tennessee was especially interested in my work,” he says. “After publishing several academic articles on American politics, I realized that the scholars at Tennessee and I shared an interest in the politics of poverty and economic inequality.”

For Ojeda, the switch from student to professor offers many more joys than challenges. “I have the freedom to study important issues in our society,” he says. “ I work with many supportive colleagues, teach hardworking students and learn new ideas every day.”

While his journey through graduate school was demanding, the habits Ojeda learned at CNU helped him outlast even the most difficult challenges. “Even though graduate school was rocky at first, I survived in part because of the training I received at Christopher Newport,” he says. “At CNU, I learned how to write, think critically, design a research project, collect and analyze data, and speak in front of an audience. Not to mention the fact that professors were always willing to extend a helping hand.”

Dr. Michelle Barnello, chair of CNU’s Department of Political Science, worked closely with Ojeda and has nothing but praise for her student-turned-colleague . “In his final year, Chris took two senior seminar courses with me, and I was struck then by his intellectual curiosity,” she says. “The discipline of political science is lucky to have among our ranks this young scholar whose research examines the social and economic causes of political inequality.”

Ojeda’s future is bright, but he still has meaningful goals left to accomplish. “My ultimate goal is to help researchers and policymakers develop a better understanding of poverty and political inequality – both its causes and the potential solutions that will help solve these issues,” he explains. “This motivates me to work extensively on my research and publish journals to spread information that may help this cause. If I can accomplish these goals, hopefully the smaller ones like earning tenure won’t be a problem!”

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