Amanda Grandjean

photo of Amanda Grandjean

  • BA in Political Science and Journalism (2013)
  • lawyer; Director of Elections and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Secretary of State Frank LaRose
  • attended Moritz College of Law (The Ohio State University)
  • former member of Miami University's Pre-Law Alumni Advisory Board
  • 18 of the last 9 Honoree (2019)

My Profession

"I'm a lawyer, but as the director of elections and deputy assistant secretary of state for Secretary of State Frank LaRose, I oversee all elections in Ohio. The Secretary of State has a 4-year term, so we're just coming up on a year in January. Serving the public and helping people is really where my passion lies.

"While I was at Miami, I went on the Inside Washington program in DC and had a great experience. I interned with the Embassy of the Republic of Iraq, and it was a very transformative experience for me because I was working for a country who was being occupied by our own country and was — and still is — in a very fragile democratic state. The people at the embassy were amazing but had a limited concept of democracy and voting, so just being able to spend every day with them to understand their vantage point of the world in the context of the fundamental rights of the United States was inspiring.

"I had always wanted to go to law school, and although there was no Pre-Law program at Miami at the time, I was lucky enough to get to know Maria Vitullo, now the director of the Sue J. Henry Center for Pre-Law Education, and we're very close. Maria helped guide my path to law school, so after graduating from Miami I went directly to Ohio State and focused on election law. I then worked for a larger law firm in Columbus, Bricker and Eckler, where I practiced election law and campaign finance for about three years, and then I was appointed to my current position in January. I also served on Miami's Pre-Law Advisory Board for quite some time."

My Miami Experiences

"I had always been interested in political science, dabbling particularly in international relations. From an analytical and intellectual perspective, I found political science critical in understanding the way things work in the government. In my current role I have to think about security, including cybersecurity and national security and intelligence, so my experiences as a political science major at Miami has helped me think strategically about my job.

"I then picked up a journalism major my sophomore year to hone my writing skills, which I knew I would need both for law school and in public life. Journalism has also helped me to understand how the media works. Both majors helped me prepare my writing and analytical thinking skills and have been integral in what I ultimately do.

"As a political science major I applied to attend a student conference on U.S. affairs at West Point, New York in the United States Military Academy. There I met with other students from around the country to discuss and put together policy. It was just a really cool experience that wouldn't have been possible without the help of Patrick Haney, who was the chair of the Department of Political Science at the time and is now an associate dean in the College of Arts and Science.

"Outside of my Miami academics, I was also a student athlete in swimming. We won a MAC championship my senior year, which was a cool experience. I was just given a lot of opportunities here and I took them all. The opportunities that I received here at Miami were absolutely fantastic."

Miami and the Liberal Arts

"Other than my legal education, my liberal arts education is really all I know! I believe it helps students gain the ability to have a more fluid education — adapting, trying new things, and really shaping the way that your brain thinks about things from different perspectives and disciplines. That is what I think is so valuable to a well-rounded thought process.

"When it comes to what political science students can do after graduation, there's public policy, working in government relations, being a lobbyist, working in the legislature or other forms of government, working for non-profits, working for interest groups — there's a thousand different routes. And for the journalism side, being a member of the media is important as well."

Advice to Students

"Use your resources here at Miami. Go to office hours, talk to your professors, email somebody you met that spoke to your class. Use your mentors and professors to help navigate that.

"But remember that taking time to figure it all out is okay! You don't have to have all of the answers immediately. If you want to take a gap year to get more experience, do that. Miami is ripe with so many different people who want to help you. This place gives a lot, so take advantage of what it has to offer.

"Then, when you're in a position to give back, whether it's financially or through internships, having a conversation over coffee, reviewing a personal statement — just remember that a lot of people will do that for you now, so it's important to try and give back as well."

[October 2019]