ASU veteran alumnus provides insight to working in politics

By

Matt Oxford

If there were two messages ASU alumnus Corey Harris wanted to leave political science students with Thursday morning, they were to understand who you are as a person and to build strong relationships.

School of Politics and Global Studies alumnus Corey Harris is the Veteran Field Representative for Congressman Ruben Gallego. He came to speak in Professor Charles Ripley’s career development class as part of ASU’s Salute to Service week, where ASU honors veteran students, alumni, faculty and staff. 

“There were more than a few times where I would have my ethics challenged,” said Harris when he explained that learning to listen to your own internal compass is an important skill to develop. “I would be faced with something where it’s my career versus doing something that I thought was right.”

Harris shared stories of his time deployed in Iraq as a Civil Affairs Second Lieutenant. He said his political science classes helped prepare him for the challenging work of proposing a new type of government without uprooting Iraqi culture. Some of the polling work he learned in statistics helped when he sat down with the State Department to figure out metrics of government improvement for the area.

“Some of the theory classes that I had right here at ASU helped me understand that not every government is perfect and that you need to find what works for the culture you already have, not attempt to implement a new culture.” 

After his second tour in 2009, Harris drew on his own challenges he had coming home in choosing a career focused on working to help veterans reintegrate into the communities they fought for.   

The story tied together the overarching theme of Corey Harris’ talk with the classroom, which was to surround yourself with good people and to value those relationships.

“The people that are sitting next to you in class or that you work with in your first job are going to be the people that you rely on down the road.”

Harris shared with the classroom that it is difficult to work in politics. It is full of late work nights, volunteer work and personal sacrifice. But Corey’s passion for the work he has accomplished made it clear that he felt it was all worth it. 

“Understanding who you are as a person, if you want to be involved in politics, is very important.”

ASU’s Salute to Service week runs Nov. 7 through Nov. 11.  There is a long list of events on the ASU Veterans website that are open to the public.