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Author: Soleil Sykes

Soleil Sykes / Author

Soleil Sykes graduated Antioch College in 2018 with a degree in Political Economy with a French Language Focus. While at Antioch, she pursued her interests in foreign and defense policy through the co-op program. She co-oped at the U.S. Mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation, the Konrad Adenauer Stiftung, and The Record, Antioch College's newspaper. As a ComCil chair, she facilitated community governance reform, with a focus on increasing democratic engagement. Soleil served as an editor of The Record for four quarters and volunteered at her local parish while at Antioch.

Find Me


Soleil's interests include defense and foreign policy, civil–military relations, democracy, human rights, and local political engagement. Her senior project examined ideas and institutions in domestic civilian–military base communities. Her French capstone traced the evolution of Belgium as the "battleground" of Europe.

My Work

The Future of Polling presentation during the 2017 Athens Democracy Forum. During the Q&A session, Soleil asks a question about technology and its impact on polling (24:10).


Senior Project Description and Interviews

Gallery I

Gallery II


Beyond The Fence: Examining Ideas and Institutions in Domestic Civilian–Base Community Relations During Expansion and Contestation

May 03, 2021


About the Project

Beyond The Fence is a project exploring the ideational and institutional factors in domestic civilian–base community relations in the United States during periods of expansion and contestation. Interviews were used in a case study of a grassroots campaign advocating for the basing of the F-35A training mission at Luke Air Force Base (AFB).The project was inspired by competing discourse about fighter aircraft on military installations, ranging from conceptions of fighter jets as “the sound of freedom” to concerns about noise, air, and water pollution from military bases.

Interviews with Ron Sites, president and executive director of Fighter Country Partnership and Fighter Country Foundation, and three members of Luke AFB’s Community Initiatives Team (CIT) serve as field data for a case study of the grassroots Luke Forward campaign. The campaign mobilized community support for the basing of the F-35A training mission at Luke AFB.

The interviews highlight the role of institutional relationships between civilian–base communities and the power of economic discourse for maintaining coherence between actors during periods of expansion and contestation[/vc_column_text][/vc_column]



The (Aspiring) Washingtonian: Sykes ’18 at the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation in Washington, D.C.

Mar 02, 2017

My third co-op finds me in lovely Washington, D.C. After my first co-op, I knew that I wanted to come back and experience more of the thriving political mini-metropolis that is D.C. Not that Yellow Springs is not a nice place to live and work during the frigid fall months, but it lacks the charm of walking past the Capitol every morning en route to work.

I’ve been in D.C. for nearly two months working as the Government Relations Intern for the Victims of Communism Memorial Foundation (VOC), a small educational and human rights non-profit. Now before the legions of Antioch Marxists start deleting me from Facebook, I’ll add that I am also a policy fellow in the Koch Fellows Program, run by the Charles Koch Institute.

Whew! Looks like I haven’t been ignobly dismissed from Antioch, which is a relief.

Anyway, as the name suggests, VOC is focused on commemorating the over 100 million people who were killed under Communism and providing education about modern communist regimes. As the Government Relations Intern, I work with embassies, congressional staffers, and a range of other organizations to support events and build relationships—all of which is code for making lots of phone calls, sending emails, drafting letters, and networking with people at events. And, as a co-worker of mine puts it, “charming” people.

Beyond my government relations tasks and projects, I have had many opportunities to explore other areas of non-profit work. VOC has a strong start-up culture and most of our staff are recent college graduates or young professionals, so we often end up wearing multiple hats. I’ve worked on research projects, written two blog posts (here and here), created floral arrangements, and attended a surprise statue unveiling at the Hungarian Embassy at 9 a.m. on a Sunday morning. I’ve learned that scanning books is not a strength of mine and that it is possible (although not preferable) to rearrange rooms in heels. There is no task that is too small or insignificant and even though preparing and executing events can be stressful, descending into giggles and bonding with co-workers definitely makes it all worth it.

I’ve learned a lot during this co-op. One of my research projects was to comb through Lenin’s collected works for his definitions and descriptions of socialism and/or communism, which was illuminating and somewhat horrifying at times. I’ve read more books in two months on co-op than I usually can during six months at Antioch, and I’ve listened to incredibly intelligent and insightful people discuss issues from the U.S.’s Middle East strategy to Chinese infrastructure investment in Africa. Through my Koch fellowship, I have reflected on my professional development and am starting to proactively plan and imagine life after Antioch.

But co-op isn’t only about learning and work. There is fun to be had as well. With three other current Antiochians and countless alumni in the area, there are plenty of opportunities for gathering, good food, and some political discussions. I attended the National Book Festival, stumbled onto a section of the Berlin Wall, and had a September picnic in Dupont Circle. Oh, and watched Russell Brand mock a poll that VOC and YouGov published. So basically, as they say, we have arrived.

I have about five weeks left of my internship and I am looking forward to each day. Sure, the brisk November chill makes it tough to creep out from underneath the covers sometimes, but on this co-op I am making a difference, doing work that actually matters, alongside people who are passionate, intelligent, and committed to ending a system that killed millions and controls millions more.

Photo credit:


Reporting from Antioch: Soleil Sykes ’18 at The Antioch Record in Yellow Springs, Ohio

Mar 21, 2016


The Record is the newspaper of choice for discerning readers in the Antioch College community. Published bi-quarterly in print and with extensive online archives, The Record is the definitive source for an unfiltered, Communications Department-free look at current campus events. Editors Soleil Sykes ’18 and Kijin Higashibaba ’16 stand at the helm of this publication.

“It is an absolute thrill,” said Sykes, a second-year Political Economy major at Antioch. “There has definitely been a learning curve, but it is fantastic to produce a quality newspaper.”

The Record’s commitment to producing quality, holistic journalism manifests in the Mission Statement, which also emphasizes The Record’s autonomy.

“We walk a fine line, as far as independence from the College is concerned,” said Sykes. “Obviously, as journalists, we strive to ensure that our reporting is fair and answers serious questions. On the other hand, my salary comes from ComCil. It’s an interesting situation.”

According to Sykes, balancing her different roles on campus is one of the most personally challenging parts of her co-op so far.

“I have started seeing everything as a potential story,” explained Sykes. “Even when I am just relaxing with friends, someone will say something and I immediately make a mental note to follow up and investigate a bit more. That curiosity, it becomes an attitude (and probably obnoxious to the people around me who just want to chatter in peace!).”

“Soleil’s a really great co-editor,” said Higashibaba. “She’s eager to learn, which I think is the best quality you can have in a leadership position.”

Sykes’ role as editor involves a variety of tasks.

“No day is ever the same,” she said.

Over the course of a week, Sykes solicits advertisements from local businesses, contacts potential contributors for art, poetry, questions, and various other letters from the community, works with staff writers on story assignments, attends campus meetings, updates The Record’s website, and answers emails.

“Long term, we are working on building a subscription service that will enable Antiochians around the world to receive The Record and help us move towards financial independence and sustainability,” stated Sykes.

Her first co-op laid some of the groundwork for Sykes’ work.

“Previous experiences on co-op and in jobs really prepared me for the outreach associated with this position,” said Sykes, “even though in many ways this feels like a departure from my last co-op. I guess I am going wide,” referring to the co-op mantra of exploring a variety of different co-op opportunities.

Sykes views this co-op as the opportunity to explore an aspect of political and civic life that she might not otherwise experience.

“At first, I didn’t think this position would have much to do with my long-term career plans,” she said. “But the press is such a critical component in a politically healthy and active society. Dealing with power hierarchies, speaking with a variety of community members, and striving to understand and analyze policies and events is as much a part of journalism as policy work.”

In the end though, Sykes just wants to publish a paper that is interesting and does not contain errors.

“We are working on final edits for the first issue of the quarter. I practically sleep with my AP Stylebook. I’m a bit paranoid about misrepresenting something or putting a comma in the wrong place. This paper means a lot to the Antioch community, so there is some pressure to make sure that it’s a good read. It’s stressful, yet so invigorating.”

Sykes’ final words to the community?

“Send stuff in! Letters, poetry, drawings, scribbles that you made on the back of your Global Seminar homework – The Record wants it all. This paper doesn’t happen without the community.”


Update Aus Washington: Sykes ’18 at The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Washington, D.C.

Feb 09, 2016

Sometimes you can read an article or listen to a radio story to learn about an issue. But nothing compares to actually engaging in the issues and events that shape today’s global world. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS) Office in Washington, D.C. exists for precisely that purpose. Part of a globally recognized and respected think tank network, KAS’s Washington Branch regularly organizes events that connect transatlantic policy experts and decision makers in order to foster dialogue and support well-informed decision-making, particularly on issues related to German-American Relations.

Washington buzzes with policy issues most of the time, but particularly now. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, energy security Ukraine crisis, and emerging global powers, such as China, present daily opportunities to engage with ideas, listen and interact with experts, and apply liberal arts skills, especially analytical thinking, research, and writing. As a intern, or “Praktikanten”, my tasks range from creating Current Issue Updates for the project managers to contacting hotels and restaurants for event planning. Perhaps the most stimulating aspect of my co-op occurs when I encounter a concept I studied in my Antioch classroom in the policy world. Free trade agreements covered in a week or two in class from an immigration standpoint become increasingly complex when issues like the harmonization of labor standards, ensuring energy security, and maintaining internet privacy are thrown into the mix, along with some jostling for international prestige and power for some good, old-fashioned geopolitical fun. I have experienced a sharp learning curve in the early weeks of my co-op, but everything I have accomplished seems to reiterate, as clichéd as it surely must sound, all of the benefits of a liberal arts, Antioch education that President Roosevelt and our administration keep on about.

As a (for now) PECO major, living “the think tank life” in Washington, D.C. is pretty much a golden opportunity to watch classroom discussions and concepts come alive. And the biggest lesson I have learned so far is that the issues we talk about in the classroom are more complicated a couple blocks from Congress. Issues about trade, the environment, and foreign policy have consequences that I would never consider in a classroom. Plus, working for a German organization has perks beyond language practice – a 30 minute lunch can easily morph into a labor-friendly, hour and a half affair, but we discuss current events and ongoing projects so I suppose it really is just a work meeting. With espresso. And cake.