By Hannah Bateman
From Starkville, Mississippi, to Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, Christopher Gunning, who earned his bachelor’s degree in political science, Japanese, and criminology in 2000 from Mississippi State University, credits MSU for preparing him for wherever life would take him.
“It was the time in my life when I learned to be an adult. I made great friends. Learned under the tutelage of amazing professors. I explored my professional and academic interests. I learned what responsibility meant... and despite that I still played video games into the wee hours of the night when I should have been studying or citing sources,” said Gunning.
Gunning went on to the University of North Texas to complete graduate-level coursework in political science and history. He was accepted to the United States Diplomatic Corps after his time in higher education was complete. He has been with the U.S. Department of State since 2003 and in 2014 he became a Consul and Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
The College of Arts and Sciences played a significant role in Gunning’s experiences and future successes. “The political science and sociology departments taught me the most important thing for success – critical thinking. They taught me how to present my opinions in such a way as to be both confident in my decisions, but open to critique and corrections. Knowing how to learn is an amazing skill that too few in the professional world enjoy,” said Gunning.
Gunning’s favorite course at MSU was the Model United Nations/Security Council practicum. When discussing his favorite MSU faculty members, Gunning lists two. “Dr. Rick Travis and Dr. Paul Kaiser were amazing mentors who challenged me to do more. I'm a diplomat because of their faith in me,” said Gunning.
For his fondest memory, Gunning lists his senior year of college as serving as one collective memory that he describes as a feeling that stays with him. “I returned from a study abroad in Japan and needed to refocus to finish out my B.A. My mother was sick, and I was determined to graduate before she passed. That year was a whirlwind of challenges and problems and successes. My friends and professors at MSU were integral to my accomplishments that year. I see that as the watershed year for me,” said Gunning.
Gunning credits his greatest success as being a father of three. “Everything else pales in comparison.”
Gunning’s favorite tradition was the day of class registration that “was always so wonderfully hectic and optimistic,” states Gunning. “You would see these long lines and students going through the catalogs – and as the first real event of the year, it was a time to see old friends as you walked around campus,” he added.
When offering current and future advice to MSU students, Gunning states, “Enjoy, but always think strategically about what you are doing and why you are doing it. Have a professional goal and always make sure you do something each semester to make that job more of a reality.”
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