MEET OUR GRADUATES: Stephen Morrison’s Patriotic Ambitions

Political Science Student
Rhode Island College Impact

Morrison is debating between law school, security studies (national defense), becoming a state trooper or becoming a naval officer.

Stephen Morrison graduated magna cum laude with a triple major in history, political science and public administration. In high school, he read “Plato’s Republic” and fell in love with political theory and has always had a deep passion for history. 

At RIC, he applied these fields to a real-world experience via an internship with Sen. Leonidas Raptakis at the State House. His work involved legislative analysis, examining the history behind a bill. 

“Sen. Raptakis would give me a packet of bills that he’s thinking about proposing and I would find out which interest groups are supporting it, who put what money behind it and which senators are supporting it,” Morrison explained. “Then I’d go over the established laws with him. I’d look at the bill he wants to pass and compare it to those that have already been established to find the differences. That’s legislative analysis. I also took notes at committee hearings just in case he wanted to reference them.”

This May, Morrison will also engage in a five-day congressional internship with U.S. Sen. Jack Reed in Washington, D.C. There, he will witness the legislative process in action. Morrison said he is looking forward to attending committee hearings, meeting senators and taking in the Smithsonian.

As far as his future career, Morrison is debating between law school, security studies (national defense), becoming a state trooper or becoming a naval officer.

“I’m going to take the summer off to work and compete in some athletic challenges,” he said. “After some soul searching and pushing my body athletically, I’ll decide on which direction to take.”

An avid outdoorsman, this summer Morrison will compete against himself by hiking every 4,000-foo​t mountain in the Northeast (two mountains a day), long-distance swimming every Rhode Island state beach and running an ultramarathon of 30 miles (working up to 150 miles over the next few years). 

“I’m one of those people who can’t turn down a challenge,” Morrison said. “I’m very disciplined and very focused, almost hyper-focused in a healthy way.”

His strongest leaning is toward the navy. “I like the idea of service and contributing to a greater good,” he said. “I feel strong urges toward defending people – defending the disenfranchised, the weak or abused. I was always the type of kid who’d stand up for somebody who was getting picked on and try to do what was right.”

Ultimately, Morrison said, he simply wants to “contribute to the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the times.”

He is a founding member of Kappa Sigma fraternity, a member of the Phi Sigma Alpha Political Science Honors Society and the P​i Alpha Theta History Honors Society. He earned departmental honors in both political science and history, and he is this year’s recipient of the North Providence League of Women Voters Award.

Morrison credited his close-knit family and the political science faculty and staff for his development not only as a student but as an individual, with special thanks to his honors thesis advisor, Professor of Political Science Richard Weiner. 

Morrison’s 60-plus-page thesis, titled “Carl Schmitt’s Theory of State Legitimacy and the Paradox of Authoritarian Liberalism,” required him to take independent study classes, to work closely with Weiner and to defend his research for over an hour before a panel of professors. He considers his thesis one of his greatest accomplishments in his college experience and added that his advisor, Weiner, is “one of the smartest guys” he’s ever met.

“Stephen is an old-fashioned, tenacious American patriot,” Weiner said, “with an indomitable spirit of social democracy.” 

Whether Morrison chooses to serve the state or the nation, he will leave his mark. He certainly leaves you believing that honor and heroism still exist in the world.​