Data and running. That’s what Joseph Silagi, a senior at Washington University in St. Louis, is passionate about. He worked last summer as an intern with the FBI in St. Louis. Just don’t ask too much about that job (it’s enough to know that he has top-secret clearance).
He is about to graduate with a degree in political science and in mathematics and computer science from Arts & Sciences. This fall, Silagi, who is from Newton, Mass., will start work as a consultant for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) in St. Louis. But first, he will spend the summer traveling in Europe, including stops in Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague.
What were some of your most memorable classes?
I took “Intro to American Politics” with Andrew Reeves, and that was a fantastic class. It was really well taught and engaging, and I felt like I learned a lot. I ended up becoming a political science major, so that definitely shaped me that way.
I also took a first-year seminar class called “Geology in the Field” — but the two professors who ran it called it geology boot camp. We went on camping trips every few weeks and went hiking in various parks around here. WashU gave me a lot of flexibility to determine what I wanted to study.
How did you narrow in on what you wanted to do?
I took a more upper-level class called “The Scientific Study of Civil War,” studying wars that are happening across the world in the present day. Studying these intra-national conflicts from a very quantitative and scientific lens opened my eyes to how the world of politics and international relations can be studied through numbers.
Another aspect of this work overlaps with geospatial analysis and working with maps. I realized that’s kind of another dimension that can be used to study a wide variety of things that I’m interested in.
There’s a lot of exciting things happening with geospatial in St. Louis. The NGA is building a new campus in St. Louis, and they’re going to have a big presence here for a long time. There are a lot of opportunities in that field.
You are a captain of your cross country and track teams. How does running fit in with all of this?
In the fall, during cross country, we practice in the morning. Knowing that I have to start my day and be ready at the Athletic Complex at 6:30 a.m. keeps me in line. It makes sure I’m allotting enough time to get to my classes, get my homework done, and that I also give myself time for self-care.
I’ve definitely trimmed down my commitments in other areas, especially for senior year. I’m taking fewer classes so that I can devote more of my time and energy toward running and my teammates as well.
Running is something I’m passionate about and that I really enjoyed about my time here. I want to be able to use my last year to lean into the team, my training and my teammates, and give them all that I can.