Student Spotlight: Barbara Montgomery, Seizing Opportunities—And Earning Results

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Photo of Schar School of Policy and Government student Barbara Montgomery
Barbara Montgomery: ‘I have worked so hard. And my hard work has been worth it.’ Photo by Charlotte Daigle

As Barbara Montgomery prepared to present at the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science National Honors Society Student Research Conference in March, she admitted to feeling a bit apprehensive.

But her confidence surged after the presentation and during the Q&A session as she engaged with the audience members who asked questions about her paper, “The Importance of Incorporating Behavioral Analysis into Rational Choice Theory.”

The experience taught Montgomery, a Schar School of Policy and Government senior and Bachelor’s Accelerated Master’s program student, to seize every opportunity, no matter how challenging.

“You may feel nervous or that you are not ready, but it could end up being a great learning experience that prepares you for future endeavors,” she said.

Montgomery’s research explores the complexity of decision-making in international conflicts and the need to supplement rational choice theory when analyzing the behavior of international actors. She chose the topic because she believes in the importance of learning how to make better decisions. Additionally, she finds game theory and decision-making interesting.

Heba El-Shazli, an assistant professor at the Schar School, introduced Montgomery to the possibility of research and encouraged her to join the Undergraduate Research Community (URC). The URC helps students gain hands-on research skills by providing tools, tips, mentorship, and a community in which they can share ideas and learn from their peers.

Montgomery appreciates how El-Shazli, who serves as URC director, and the research community helped shape her interest and passion for government.

“Professor El-Shazli has highly invested in me as a student to succeed over the years,” she said. “I was in the URC at the time of writing the paper and my experience there inspired me to submit my work to the Pi Sigma Alpha research conference.”

The honors continued into the spring for Montgomery: In April, she was inducted into the prestigious honor society, Phi Beta Kappa. Another opportunity to be seized.

“A lot goes on beyond what is seen in earning a college degree that is hard to express,” she said. “But this initiation speaks volumes and reflects my academic journey so beautifully. I have worked so hard. And my hard work has been worth it."