Ellen Esterhey '14, center, on the campaign

Ellen Esterhay ’14, who double-majored in Chinese and world politics, went from Hamilton to a position in a high-profile, high-pressure political campaign. She landed an internship and then a job as a press assistant in Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes’ effort to unseat Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Her candidate lost, but Esterhay loved the experience.

“I think working a campaign can be pretty grueling, but it’s really great knowing you’re going to work every day doing something that you believe in,” she says.

She says she already knew how to work hard from her Chinese coursework, especially from her semester in Hamilton’s study program in Beijing. The flipside of the hard work, she found, was rapid progress in learning the language. Esterhay wants to return to China and harbors a longer-term goal of a career in which she can use her Chinese, maybe in government or foreign relations. She feels prepared for whatever.

“I didn’t fully realize everything my time at Hamilton gave me until I left,” she says. “As a student at Hamilton, in everything you do, you’re learning how to problem-solve, how to adapt and pick up things quickly, and write - especially learning how to write.”

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