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David A. Grant II, MS student

MS Student Shares Journey

David A. Grant II discusses his path from SUNY Cortland to Cornell, as well as his coursework and goals.

A student in the ILR School MS degree program, David A. Grant II worked for the Service Employee International Union Local 32BJ and as a research assistant. Recently, he answered questions in an interview about his ILR experiences. 

What educational and career experiences led to your time at ILR?

I graduated from SUNY Cortland in May 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in communications. Post-graduation, I became a research assistant to a former professor working on a project concerning mutual aid networks in marginalized communities.

In addition to my work as a researcher, I worked at the Service Employee International Union Local 32BJ. I was tasked with overseeing logistics for union leadership conferences and facilitating racial justice workshops. I worked for the union until I was admitted to the MS program.

What motivated you to join the MS program?

I wanted to make myself a resource.  Being under the tutelage of ILR MS faculty is assisting in my goal. I am honored to be part of a program specifically tailored to union organizing and the needs of labor research practitioners, especially one supported by the esteemed network of alumni from the ILR school. 

What courses have been especially impactful so far?

The course "Research Methods for Labor Policy," taught by Kate L. Bronfenbrenner, has been the most impactful for me thus far. Assignments, such as the strategic corporate research project, entail in-depth research on target companies for use in union campaigns.

This assignment serves as a prime example of how Professor Bronfenbrenner's course fosters a hands-on approach as it requires the real-world application of concepts and research methods.

What about the MS experience has been surprising?

The most surprising part of the MS experience has been the historical documents and archived primary sources housed in the Kheel Center at the Catherwood Library. Reading original letters sent between the SEIU and Coretta Scott King was an impactful experience that aided my studies.

Where do you hope the M.S. program takes you in your career?

The MS program has equipped me with the tools and support system to be successful in various occupations. I feel confident that the skills I’ve learned here can lend themselves to creative problem-solving in varying positions ranging from union organizer to policy analyst.

What are your thoughts for those considering the MS program?

I implore you to apply. The faculty is comprised of world-leading experts who are accessible and care deeply about student success and the proletariat. The program’s flexibility allows for specialization in any area of labor studies you’re interested in or passionate about. 

In your free time, what do you do for fun?

I am a musician at heart, and in my free time, I make music. I record sounds and conversations found in everyday life and layer in my guitar playing to create abstract soundscapes. As the weather warms up, I have been hiking the trails and enjoying new hobbies, such as fishing in Ithaca Falls. As cheesy as I found it at first, I must admit, Ithaca “is gorges.”