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LVC Alum Applies Political Science Degree in Military Career
“When will I ever use this in the real world?”
It’s a question that every teacher, professor, and educator has heard countless times. For Brian Wharton ’09, a political science graduate, applying his education to life after college made all the difference in his ability to make an impact in his field.
“Political science is a tremendously relevant major, especially in today’s ever-changing political environment. The major isn’t necessarily about understanding the difference between political parties, but rather being able to place what you hear and see in the context of the greater picture of American politics,” he said.
Not only does he use what he learned in the classroom to help him understand politics, but Wharton calls on internship experiences with Congressmen Tim Holden and Wayne Gilchrest.
“The faculty was tremendously helpful in facilitating these opportunities. This support ultimately helped me understand some of the more subtle aspects of politics, including where individuals can get help to solve difficult challenges they may face in their lives,” he said. “I take comfort knowing that I can help soldiers find that help when they need it. I doubt I would have been as effective if not for my undergraduate internship.”
After graduating from LVC, Wharton signed his papers for the U.S. Army and completed basic training before attending Officer Candidate School.
“I was always drawn to the military,” said Wharton. “Ultimately, my best friend from high school joined the Air Force and told me about his experiences every time we spoke. I knew the military was for me and made a final commitment during my senior year. I viewed it as a stepping stone that could help me build more experience and discipline in my life. The Army is a big family, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
On a deployment to Afghanistan, Wharton handled multiple tasks that included managing the Human Resources Department for an organization with hundreds of soldiers worldwide. He was also a member of a Security Forces Advisory and Assistance Team, which meant he traveled with his team to an Afghan National Army base and helped mentor his counterpart on how to execute some of their job responsibilities best.
When he returned from Afghanistan, Wharton took a break from the military. He obtained his master’s degree at Manhattan College while also working in a civilian role as the executive director of the Institute for Defense and Government Advancement in New York City. But, Wharton soon felt drawn back to the military and transferred to the Regular Reserves.
Wharton was activated for a year of service in Baltimore, Md., before transitioning into his current role as the supervisory staff administrator for the 313th Movement Control Battalion, also in Baltimore, in addition to serving as their battalion executive officer.
“Regardless of what capacity I am in, the main priority is to manage the soldiers’ deployment readiness in the unit,” he said. “Sometimes, that means helping to build an effective training schedule and ensuring adequate training resources for the soldiers. Other times it means managing the workflow and priorities of the soldiers that fall under me. My absolute favorite part of the job is mentoring younger officers and soldiers.”
Along with his military responsibilities, Wharton is pursuing his Ph.D. in strategic leadership and engaged to the love of his life.
“I always hoped that I would achieve a level of success, but the job success is just part of the overall picture. Each of these is a measure of success in their own light, but it is the combination of all three that makes me truly happy.”
— Darby Seymour, Marketing & Communications Student Assistant