A Knight’s Journey to Oklahoma

Whitman-Cobb_Wendy Headsot resizedFrom Orlando to where the wind comes sweeping down the plain, Wendy Whitman-Cobb, ’06, ’08, thanks the University of Central Florida for helping her achieve a variety of accomplishments.

After receiving her bachelor’s degree in political science, Whitman-Cobb served as a political science adjunct instructor for the University of Central Florida, Santa Fe College in Gainesville, and Valencia Community College in Orlando. As an adjunct instructor, she aided in teaching subjects such as American National Government, and State and Local Politics. Whitman-Cobb, in addition to being an instructor, has several publications under her name including, “Unbroken Government: Success and the Illusion of Failure in Policymaking,” and is working on a few new publications. Earlier this year, Whitman-Cobb participated as the chair of “Policymaking in the US Congress” Annual Meeting of the Southern Political Science Association. Currently, she is an assistant professor of political science at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma. She teaches multiple classes on American government and politics, such as Media in American Politics, as well as serving as faculty co-advisor for the Law and Politics Club and Model UN Team.

“My favorite thing about UCF was that it allowed me to become me,” says Whitman-Cobb. As an undergraduate, she was a member of the Honors College and took advantage of the fantastic resources UCF offers, such as the fitness center and opportunities to connect with other students. Reminiscing on her time at the university, she recalls two of her favorite memories: meeting her husband in a Southern Politics class and Homecoming week, particularly Movie Knights and Spirit Splash. Whitman-Cobb and her husband still cheer on the Knights football team from Oklahoma. They’ve also returned to campus to walk around, reminisce, and go ice skating outside the arena.

How has your UCF degree helped you in your career?

While at UCF, I received my BA and an MA in political science.  Those studies really set the foundation for my Ph.D. work later on.  The skills that the political science faculty brought out in me, particularly while I was doing my MA, were so important in shaping what I’ve done. For instance, my study of space policy laid the foundation for the work in my doctoral dissertation and later  in my book, Unbroken Government.

I was also fortunate to be given the opportunity to teach undergraduates at UCF when I was completing my MA.  Those early experiences were so formative in making me the teacher I am by teaching me the need to be flexible and interesting, particularly in large lecture halls!  But the experience I gained there allowed me to get a leg up in the job market and continue teaching beyond UCF.

Describe a typical day at work.

I’m very lucky in that my job allows a lot of flexibility so, days are never the same!  But typically, I spend a few hours in my office, meeting with students, grading papers, and working on my own research and a few hours in the classroom teaching about American politics.  My colleagues are fantastically hilarious so there’s always a few laughs thrown in throughout the day as well.

What piece of advice would you give to current students as well as UCF alumni?

Find something to do that you love.  No matter what, there is always some way to pursue it.  I love spaceflight but I’m no physicist.  Instead, I found a way to study it through political science and I’m loving every minute of it!

What songs would make up the soundtrack of your life?

I think this question is the most difficult to answer!  I have such strange music choices.  I’ll split my choices into two groups.

The first group is songs that I associate with my time at UCF, mostly because they were always playing while I was there.

-“Bigger Than My Body,” John Mayer (Because who doesn’t just want to fly away and do what you “can’t,” especially in college!)

-“Since U Been Gone,” Kelly Clarkson (Angry girl music)

-“Learn to Fly,” Foo Fighters (This was always on MTV while I was trying to run in the morning)

The second group is songs that I would say represent my life now.

-“They Just Keep Moving the Line,” SMASH (The standards just keep changing as you grow up and you just have to keep running.)

-“Oklahoma!,” From the musical, “Oklahoma!” (I live here now, so it’s only natural.)

-“Good Life,” OneRepublic (You don’t always realize it, but life is pretty darn good.)

What is the happiest and/or proudest moment of your life?

The day I received my first copy of my first book, Unbroken Government.  It was such a summation of all the work I’d done from UCF and from the University of Florida where I completed my Ph.D.  It was also a tribute to the teachers, professors, and family who guided me through my education and supported me always.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received?

Never give up.  This is what my parents drove into me as a kid and it’s also the advice I gave my sister when she got married.  The drive to keep going no matter how many rejections (which happen frequently in academia) is something that is hard to learn but valuable nonetheless.

What is your favorite quote?

“I swear by my life and my love of it that I will never live for the sake of another man, nor ask another man to live for mine.” (Ayn Rand, Atlas Shrugged)

It’s such a testament to personal responsibility and life.  I have it hanging in my office where my students are sure to see it!

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?

An astronaut!  But unfortunately, math and science have never been my thing.

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