Senior political science major and campus trustee will attend law school after graduation
Describe UMassD in one word
What brought you here?
"The opportunity to develop skills for the real world."
How did you decide on your major?
"Being involved in the Student Government Association (SGA), I found the opportunity to address policy issues very interesting."
Maxwell White is involved in a lot. The political science major and four-time Chancellor's List student (minimum 3.8 GPA) was elected the co-president of UMassD's Model United Nations, captain of the UMassD Votes Coalition, Student Affairs committe chair, club president of Habitat for Humanity, and UMass Dartmouth's student trustee on the UMass System's Board of Trustees. He also works on campus as a Resident Assistant, tutored for AmericaReads, and participates in the Outdoor Club and Ski Club in his free time.
Why is it important for students to take on leadership responsibilities on campus?
"Without responsibilities, there is no growth. College gives everyone a chance to give leadership a try without having the same consequences as the real world. Students learn more about themselves and how they respond to difficulties to achieve a desired vision.
"It's important that students at least get involved to make more connections and learn from others. Though there's much more responsibility to leading, there's also much more to get out of it, with personal growth being the most prominent."
How do you think these experiences have benefitted your career goals?
"Wherever I go, my experiences will remind me of lessons that I would not have had otherwise. Learning to organize with many different stakeholders will be beneficial whenever I end up because it requires a patience that I would not have without my experiences."
Are there any accomplishments you're particularly proud of?
"This year, I'm proud to have worked with the Student Government Association (SGA) and the university administration to create a constitutional amendment to add student seats to the SGA to more accurately represent our campus. I can't take credit for everything, but this change will encourage more students to join SGA.
"I'm also proud of my work with Leduc Center Director for Community Service and Partnerships, Deirdre Healy, Director of Strategic Communications Ryan Merrill, and the Dartmouth Town Clerk Sarah Haskel-Arruda to move Dartmouth's voting precinct 3 to UMass Dartmouth. This took a lot of work and will create a greater turnout for students."
Off campus, White has gained equally valuable professional experience as a legal intern for the Bristol County District Attorney's office, a constituent services intern for the mayor of Fall River, and as a policy research intern at the Alliance for Citizen Engagement.
How have these internships helped shape your career goals?
"I'm grateful for every opportunity I've had on campus and off. My off-campus internships gave me experiences I never would have learned from a textbook. During the summer of 2022 at the Bristol County District Attorney's office, I learned I wanted to become a lawyer. I'm already a first-generation college student, so it took a lot for me to believe that I could continue with my education even further.
"I am grateful for them all, but my experience at the district attorney's office made me realize I wanted to be a lawyer. I'm glad I got to see what other occupations look like, but the DA's office gave me direction."
What did you learn about yourself in these roles?
"The district attorney's office is a fast-paced and high-stress environment that I quickly realized I would enjoy. I like the pressure and the high level of effort the people staffed there put in. I also learned that I enjoy helping people work through stressful situations. I've done that for years as a resident assistant, and I always felt like that kind of work made a difference to others."
Why should other students look for internships?
"To find out what work they want to do. It's important to know what kind of work and what kind of environment you'll thrive in. An internship is by far the best way to figure that out. You'll never fully figure everything out, but an internship will give you some ideas since you're diving right into it."
Being involved in so many different areas of campus, White has built an extensive network with fellow students, faculty, and administration, which he says he'll miss after graduating in May.
Have you had a favorite class?
"Yes, Political Science 302: The Legislative Process, with Professor Douglas Roscoe was my favorite. He taught with such care and always came fully prepared to the class and wanted everyone to take the most useful lessons away rather than packing in the most amount of information. I enjoyed that the most."
Do you have a favorite memory here?
"My last class as a peer mentor for a CAS-103 class. I got to see how all these first-year students made it through the hardest part of their college experience. To see them feel more confident in themselves heading forward made me feel like I made a good influence on them. They changed more than I expected in those few months, and I liked seeing all of them feel like they belonged."
How do you know UMassD was the right choice for you?
"I needed a place that was close to home, but also somewhere I could develop, and UMass Dartmouth was my best chance for that."
Is there one thing you'll miss most about UMassD?
"I'm going to miss everyone. It sounds melodramatic, but I really think I will. All the friends I've made in classes, the RA team, Model UN, SGA, and everyone that works here that I've gotten to know. It's not since these waning months that I came to see how meaningful they all really have been to me. Guiding me, helping me, and being there has meant a lot. It will not be easy leaving this campus."
What's next for you?
"I’m going on to even more school. I am attending law school full time starting this upcoming fall, which I am both nervous and excited about. I know this will be a challenge, but that’s what I’m looking forward to because I think it will be a huge learning phase."
How prepared do you feel to enter the next phase of your life?
"Very prepared. Between the coursework and different obligations, I’ve improved in how I manage my time to get ready for the much harder world afterwards when things are not as flexible."
Is there anything else you want to say to the UMassD community?
"I want everyone at UMass Dartmouth to know what they have meant to me in my experience. There was a time when I did not know who I was and what I was even supposed to be doing here. But the strong support network here helped steer me towards a good direction. I could not have made it here without the help of so many others. I will always be thankful for them."