McKenzie Bennett Earns One of Only Six Social Science/Public Policy NSF Fellowships
Contact Information
200 Tillman Hall
Rock Hill, SC 29733, USA
803/323-2236
803/328-2855 (Fax)

McKenzie Bennett Earns One of Only Six Social Science/Public Policy NSF Fellowships

April 06, 2021

HIGHLIGHTS

  • McKenzie Bennett of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is one of only six social science – public policy recipients chosen in the country for the prestigious fellowship. 
  • She will graduate in May with a political science major and a psychology minor and will seek a Ph.D. in political science from the University of Notre Dame.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA — A Winthrop University senior has been selected as the recipient of a 2021 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) fellowship to continue her studies surrounding voting rights for marginalized groups.

McKenzie Bennett of Rock Hill, South Carolina, is one of only six social science – public policy recipients chosen in the country for the prestigious fellowship. The NSF received more than 13,000 overall applications and made 2,000 total award selections.

Bennett will graduate in May with a political science major and a psychology minor and will seek a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Notre Dame.

Bennett’s professors said she has distinguished herself in several areas at Winthrop, including academics, undergraduate research, and campus and community engagement. She was a member of the College Democrats, worked as a Winthrop Poll phone caller and completed an eight-week internship with the Fund for American Studies in Washington, D.C., to study the inner workings of the federal government.

Coming from a family of teachers who stay informed about current events, Bennett was affected by the presidential election in 2016. She entered Winthrop in the fall of 2017 with a desire to study psychology and political science.

After taking Political Science Professor Michael Lipscomb's class during her sophomore year, she decided to pursue political science as a major. 

Her research through the McNair Scholars Program, which has now had six Winthrop students earn a NSF fellowship, during summer 2020 helped bring her broadly-conceived scholarly interests into focus, said Lipscomb, her McNair mentor. Her research project was called: “Constituent Personality Preferences for South Carolinian Political Leaders.” 

During that time, Bennett conceived and began to execute an investigation into the relationship between political culture, personality traits and their influence on voter choices in a U.S. context.  This project linked her interest in public policy and political psychology and helped her build the methodological and substantive basis for understanding the intricate intersections of policy-making and political processes.  The project also put Bennett in a position to convey the idea of political culture in ways that can account for differences in cultural attitudes across racial, ethnic and class categories and how those differences might account for differences in voting behavior. 

“McKenzie is the kind of student who consistently seeks new opportunities for learning and development and utilizes faculty office hours to make her already stellar comprehension of the material even more precise,” said Jennifer Disney, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science.

Bennett said she owes her success to many in the Winthrop village: Lipscomb, Disney and Hye-Sung Kim, all faculty members in the Department of Political Science; Leslie Bickford, Office of Nationally Competitive Awards director; Stephanie Bartlett, McNair writing coach; and Cheryl Fortner-Wood, McNair director. And to her parents, particularly her mother who just earned her own Ph.D.

Bennett’s career goal is to advocate for marginalized groups’ voting rights, and she is open to helping those groups through higher education teaching, the political science arena or at a government agency.

The South Mecklenburg High graduate also is a member at Winthrop of Phi Kappa Phi, Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honor Society, the National Society of Leadership and Success and the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

For more information, contact Judy Longshaw, news and media services manager, at 803/323-2404 or longshawj@winthrop.edu.

Button ArrowALL NEWS
Last Updated: 4/10/21