Student Spotlight: Dillon Sarb

Photo of Dillon Sarb sitting on a couch and reading.

In this episode, hear from Dillon Sarb, a graduate student in the political science department. Dillon was inspired to learn more about politics and government by former president Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign. Listen in as Dillon talks about one focus of his graduate work -- international relations, conflict, and what happens after a superpower withdrawals troops from another country.

Story Transcript

I think I'm kind of a product of Obama's 2008 campaign. He actually came to Billings and I was able to shake his hand, but I think that just kind of was the kind of the moment that it kind of like made sense to me. It kind of like, everything kind of opened up. And I realized that I really wanted to, you know, learn more about politics and the systems that govern our society and the world. Because I was so inspired by him and his message. 

My name is Dillon Sarb. I am a grad student in the political science department. It's a two-year degree. I'm in my second year. I also did my undergrad at the University of Montana in political science, and also I did a German degree as well, but you know once I was thinking about what do I want to study? What really interests me? What's, what's, what I find compelling is, is politics. 

The one emphasis that I got into was international relations. I'm looking at international conflict and what kind of sparked my research is what happens when a great power -- and I focus on the United States -- when we engage in a civil war like Vietnam or Iraq most recently, what happens when we leave? What's it like for those countries and like what power vacuums occur and what happens to the people in the countries and the states that, you know, once, once we leave, what's that, what's that region going to look like? 

My examples are actually the case studies that I'm looking at, so Iraq in 2011, when the United States formally withdrew troops and then Vietnam in 1973. So, I'm looking at regional states, border states, contiguous states. How powerful they are and then whether or not they engaged in either intervention or military action in those states that we left. And then what I'm looking to do further is to really look at like the types of conflict that go on. Especially in the Iraq case. There's a lot of like non-state violence, a lot of non-state actors, ISIS being probably the biggest one. I think further research needs to be done on in international relations is to focus more on non-state actors and violence. So that's another part of my project that I wanted to look into.  

I hope it, it shines a light on like, in the future we can like be more deliberate and conscious about what happens after we're done here. I think you need people to want to be in government and want to govern for the benefit of the people. Government is about helping people's lives. It's not to frustrate them, it's not meant to be suffocating. It's meant to help people. And that's what I want to do after grad school is I want to help people. I want to help people either within a government structure or in nonprofit work. That to me, strikes me as like the most fulfilling career path I can do.