Political Science grad goes from student government to federal government
Well before the time she attended York College of Pennsylvania, Andrea Corrales showed an interest in government and how it worked.
The Political Science major knew she wanted to pursue a career in the field, but the issue was figuring out exactly what to do with her passion.
“I had a minor in philosophy and sociology, and I was interested in how these two different areas interacted with people’s perspective of policy, government, etc.,” Andrea says.
Her experiences at York College started her on a path that eventually led to working with the U.S. Department of Defense.
Intimate class settings
In her junior year, Andrea enrolled in a Philosophy of Law course. Beyond the subject matter, which tackled case law in controversial topics such as flag burning, Andrea says she especially appreciated the format.
In a small class setting typically found at York College, she says, students better interacted with each other because they sat in a circle rather than rows. This setting encouraged students to come prepared to debate the various topics discussed during the class.
Additionally, Andrea saw the class as an opportunity to think outside the box and try to see things from other viewpoints.
“It opened my eyes to the fact that there are two sides to every argument,” she says. “But you don’t always think about that when studying most things in a traditional class setting — the professor just teaches you the facts. This class opened my eyes that there are alternative viewpoints, some of which make it all the way to the Supreme Court.”
It was here, Andrea says, that she was inspired to apply to law school. After graduating from York College in 2005 with a Political Science degree, she attended Penn State Dickinson Law.
Making a difference locally and nationally
Among her extracurricular activities at York College, Andrea says the most influential on her career was Student Senate. As Student Senate president, she met and interacted with York College’s administration and saw the inner workings of the college.
“It showed how one person can make a difference,” she says, “But I also saw the broad scheme of things – that it sometimes takes a lot of people working together to get things done.”
This has helped, she says, with the various jobs she has worked with the U.S. government since graduating from law school.
In her current role with the Defense Office of Hearings and Appeals, the largest component of the Defense Legal Services Agency, Andrea says she can sometimes feel like just a spoke in a wheel.
“It can be daunting, but I reflect on the fact that it takes every person in the department to do what we do for a broader mission,” she says.
Andrea has enjoyed working as a civil servant for the government in several positions. From contract fraud with the U.S. Department of the Navy to government whistleblower protection cases with the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, she has diversified her background.
Now, Andrea works as a trial attorney with the U.S. Department of Defense representing the government in security clearance matters.
“I’m protecting classified information from getting into the hands of those who shouldn’t have it because they pose a threat to national security, and I find that meaningful,” she says.
Still giving back
Andrea has continued to contribute to York College since graduating.
She spent nine years on the alumni board and says she is grateful for all the opportunities she received thanks to YCP’s unique educational setting.
“I found that the administration and faculty genuinely care about students, which I didn’t see when I visited other colleges or didn’t see when speaking to friends at other colleges.”
Andrea values the great education she received, the chance to make a difference and the opportunity to step outside of her own personal bubble and into the real world.