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GIST Alumna, Leslie Zukrow Lands Job With KS Congresswoman

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Leslie Zukrow graduated from KU in December 2018, with a major in Global & International Studies, a co-major in European Studies, and a minor in Environmental Studies. A native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, Leslie says her time at KU offered her unique opportunities that prepared her for the job market and shaped her world view. In addition to a great experience working for KU College Recruitment and the College Online, Leslie was involved with KU Alternative Breaks, a service learning organization that she says, “helped me realize the impact I want to make on the world and our community.”

Leslie has wasted no time jumping into the work force, accepting a position directly after graduation as a staff assistant with Congresswoman Sharice Davids. Davids, who was sworn into office in January 2019, made history as one of the first two Native American Women elected to Congress, and as the first openly LGBT member of Congress from Kansas. Davids attended Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas in Lawrence before earning a bachelor’s degree in business administration from UMKC, and a law degree from Cornell University.

Leslie tells us about her new job and her journey:

“Congresswoman Sharice Davids represents KS District 03 (Wyandotte and Johnson Counties and a small part of Miami County). My job is primarily working in the district office in Overland Park. Congresswoman Davids was just inaugurated in early January so we’re all new here! I’m the person that constituents talk to when they call or come in to voice their opinions. I work a lot on how to get these opinions to the Congresswoman and how we can best meet the varying demands of our community. So far, I love it! I’ve only worked here a short time but it’s very interesting to see how politics affect each individual person. It’s also an extremely tough job but it’s rewarding, and every single day is vastly different.   

My time at KU helped prepare me for this and I most definitely would not be in this position if I didn’t have the support from KU, the GIST program, my professors, and incredible advisors and mentors. I took a lot of history and political science courses. Although I was focusing on international issues (mainly Western Europe), learning about the political divisions in other countries gave me a sense of how our country plays into the bigger picture. Learning how to comprehend the complexity of various political structures (and having the opportunity to study abroad in Florence!) allowed me to gain an understanding of how political systems coexist and affect individuals no matter what country or region in which they reside. Especially in my later years at KU, my professors were great at connecting the issues for me and helping me understand how Kansas City plays into national and international communities.

Although living in Lawrence was awesome, I now live in KC and I love it. Being in a new city is great and working for someone I respect, look up to and can put 100% of my support behind is better than anything I could have hoped for. This is the kind of thing that was a far-fetched goal that I knew wouldn’t happen right away. I was prepared to spend years working towards it – except it did happen and I’m so lucky and eternally grateful.”

Leslie’s impressions of her time at KU and the GIST program:

“KU (and GIST especially) gave me friends on my first day freshman year - they became my best friends and we talk every single day even though we live across the world from each other. The thing I loved most about the GIST program was that because it is interdisciplinary I got to take courses that I was interested in every single semester. It also meant that I met some incredible people outside of my major! Surrounding myself with different people and perspectives on academics, politics, and life definitely shaped my education just as much as the actual courses did. I miss KU immensely but firmly believe that there is no better institution that could have prepared me for this experience.”

Final funs facts about Leslie:

  1. Leslie is able to balance her interest and involvement with important global issues while also being a dedicated donut connoisseur.
  2. In Leslie’s three-day Instagram takeover for @kucollege in summer of 2018 she shared her experiences as an intern for the Kansas City Chamber of Commerce.

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