He blinded me with science! From politics to library science, that is.
Armen Boyajian is a pretty good jazz violinist. He graduated from Binghamton Central High School the same year that I did, but he’s better preserved. He left a lengthy comment on this post, only part of which I will quote here.
I didn’t know you were a Political Science major, Roger. I was also, first, an undergrad at U of Rochester… Then off to SUNY Binghamton for MA in Public Policy. Thought I was going to become a policy wonk at Urban Institute or somewhere like that – but wound up in the nonprofit world as a fundraiser and a jazz musician. I really had no desire to go into politics but was interested in the process… What prompted you to switch from politics to library science?
Armen, I was always interested in politics. I used to read the op/ed pages of the local newspapers by the time I was ten. Also, my father and many other people I knew were involved with the civil rights and/or antiwar movements.
I got involved in student government (General Organization) at BCHS and was president of G.O. The first political campaign I had anything to do with involved blowing up balloons for Bill Burns’ unsuccessful attempt to become mayor in 1969 (?); he lost to Al Libous.
I went to SUNY New Paltz as a poli sci major and joined the New Paltz Democratic Club. In 1974, Howard Robison (R-Owego) declined to run again in the vast Congressional District that ran from Ithaca to Binghamton to Woodstock and New Paltz. Three of the four candidates came to the NPDC and pitched us. Though most members backed the lawyer from Woodstock, a few of us supported the district attorney from Ithaca named Matt McHugh.
I carried petitions for him and got over 125 signatures. While McHugh lost the portion of Ulster County in the CD, he won New Paltz. Then he ran in the general election against Al Libous and won. I made some phone bank calls for McHugh and the Assembly candidate, Maurice Hinchey. They both won.
Some poli sci friends of mine got me to run for Student Government Association. In a crooked election, which I wrote about here, I won. But I dropped out of college for reasons.
The next year, there was a vacancy in the SGA, and I was appointed to that position. Unfortunately, though I was oblivious to it, there was much chicanery with the bookkeeping, with thousands of dollars missing. (In my area that year, which was Education, including WNPC and the Oracle newspaper, my audited books were off by 79 cents.)
Grad school #1
I went to SUNY Albany to get an MA in Public Administration in 1979. That didn’t work for me for some reasons, not the least of which is that the students there were ruthless. They would hide materials or even remove pages from books.
The kicker, though, was one course in which we were given a real-world problem to try to solve. Then the actual person who took on the issue came to class to explain how they resolved it. As often as not, there WAS no suitable resolution.
At the same time, I had an internship at the Albany Housing Authority. I did have some successes – notably recommending merging the janitorial services, which had been divided into ones funded by the state and federal, which worked more efficiently. Nevertheless, it was often disheartening.
So when I took a summer job at a comic book store, I stayed for 8.5 years. After an awful year at Empire Blue Cross and a stint as a Census enumerator, I went back to grad school kicking and screaming. But truth be told, I have always had the librarian inclination since I was a page at the Binghamton Public Library when I was in high school. Or, more likely, long before that. And these were cooperative, not competitive, students. Much more my vibe.
I did carry political petitions thrice in the 21st century, one for a Common Council candidate I liked and the others for a school board candidate and a judge, both of whom I knew personally, and they all won.
There it is: how I started off as a poli sci major and ended up as a librarian. BTW, the poli sci did come in handy as I was able to ascertain which agency I should contact to get certain information.