Office of Alumni Engagement

Will Allen

My hometown when I was a student was:

Unionville, MI

I graduated from Alma in:


I studied:

Social Policy (Program of Emphasis), with minors in Economics and Music

I currently live in:

Oxford, United Kingdom

I am now:

Leading research that examines how messages about international migration relate to what people think about politics and political issues. I’m a Fellow in Political and Development Studies at Magdalen College, University of Oxford.

Since graduating from Alma:

I completed a Masters in Development Studies and a PhD (DPhil) in Politics, both at Oxford. From 2012-18, I worked for The Migration Observatory at Oxford, linking researchers with non-governmental organizations, journalists, and policymakers including Members of Parliament. I also led a portion of the 2018 World Migration Report, produced by the International Organization for Migration (IOM), focused on the role of media in shaping global public opinion on migration issues.

My Alma education:

…provided opportunities to expand my sense of what was possible—both in terms of what I was learning in the classroom, and how I could connect that knowledge to real-world issues.

My favorite place(s) on campus included:

Gelston 1st West and Wright Hall—I cannot overstate the importance and value of living with others—and the Chapel for the daily Alma Choir rehearsals.

My favorite professor(s) included:

Everyone who was on my program of emphasis committee, including Murray Borrello, Bob Cunningham, Joanne Gilbert, and Ed Lorenz. And, from the fantastic music faculty, Scott Messing, Will Nichols, and Ray Riley.

My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is:

…taking part in a Spring Term course to Ecuador, learning Spanish (still a work in progress), and understanding the developmental and economic challenges facing the country. Personally, it was also hugely formative because it showed me that living and working abroad was a real possibility.

How Alma has helped with my current plan/job/graduate school/etc.:

Alma helped me get to my current position by providing excellent courses and opportunities for independent learning that made me competitive for Oxford and similarly-ranked universities. More generally, it developed within me a degree of resilience—an ability to stretch beyond what I thought were my boundaries, even when the odds may not have been in my favor.

How I have given back to Alma since graduation

I advise Alma students who are considering studying abroad at Oxford or the UK more generally, and welcome contact from anyone considering graduate studies (Masters or PhD) in a social science subject in the US or abroad. I also make an effort to meet any Spring Term courses that are based in London or elsewhere in England, and have visited the Alma Choir when it’s their Scotland tour year!

Advice I would give a new graduate:

Try to keep in touch with your classmates—this has been more difficult to do in person as I’ve lived overseas, but when I have had the chance to catch up with Alma friends, it always feels like no time has passed.

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