Buried neck-deep in admissions materials, Anthony Palmer ’13 had a decision to make. The standout high school senior was in search of a college or university that would offer a close-knit campus environment, where he could speak to his professors face to face and learn in an intimate classroom rather than a large lecture hall. His decision to attend Gettysburg College was one of many over the next four years that would lead to a newfound love for political science and government policy, as well as an internship with The Chris Matthews Show.
“Gettysburg was the last college I visited,” said Palmer, a first generation college student who had narrowed his search to 16 schools. “As I walked around campus on my tour, I was welcomed by teachers, students, and administrators who were passionate about the school. It was the perfect place for me.”
But with so many academic interests, finding the right major to pursue proved to be a challenge.
“When I went to my advisor meeting during first-year orientation, I had no idea what I wanted to study or what I wanted to do with my life,” said Palmer, now a senior. “That all changed when [I spoke with] Prof. Shirley Anne Warshaw.”
Warshaw, professor of political science, has been a consultant to the Discovery Channel, PBS, and the White House under three administrations, and has written more than a dozen books. Her research focuses on organizational structures for presidential decision-making.
She suggested that Palmer join her first-year seminar on the presidency, providing him with the opportunity to dip his toe in the waters of political science.
“I took a chance, left my comfort zone, and decided to accept her kind offer,” Palmer said. “That decision changed my life.”
Since the seminar, Palmer has blossomed as a political science major, learning from knowledgeable professors he holds as personal role models, including Prof. Kenn Mott, professor of political science, Prof. Bruce Larson, associate professor of political science, and of course, Warshaw.
“Prof. Warshaw has been a great mentor to me at Gettysburg,” said Palmer, who has aided her researching efforts as she crafts the upcoming book, Guide to the White House Staff. “[She] instilled in me a love of research, writing, and the presidency. Helping her research in her area of expertise has been one of the most fulfilling experiences of my life.”
“[Palmer] is an amazing person – smart, energetic, and an absolute joy to work with,” Warshaw said. “There is no question he will continue to excel [in the future].”
But Warshaw has not been the only positive influence to Palmer at Gettysburg College.
During his junior year, he participated in the Strategy and Leadership in Transformational Times program led by Susan Eisenhower, founding director and first president of the Eisenhower Institute (EI) at Gettysburg College. He credits Eisenhower for teaching him how to think strategically, analyze complex issues, and develop reflective leadership.
“She is a true stateswoman who cares deeply about the challenges facing our country,” he said. “[Eisenhower also] nominated me to join three other Gettysburg students at West Point’s 64th Annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA). We lived in barracks with West Point cadets and spent four days critically analyzing and debating American leadership in times of austerity. It was an incredible, eye-opening experience.”
With the encouragement of Eisenhower, Palmer also has been active in the Eisenhower Institute. EI sparked his interest in current affairs and led him to participate in an Inside Politics trip to Washington D.C. during his sophomore year.
Inspired by life in America’s capital, Palmer later found his ideal D.C. internship as a result of none other than a Gettysburg connection. Nancy Nathan P ’12, mother of Caroline Nathan ’12, is the executive producer of The Chris Matthews Show. She contacted him about a potential internship with the show and he jumped at the opportunity.
“Like my decision to join Prof. Warshaw’s first-year seminar two years before, I thought it would be an amazing experience and it was,” he said.
“My internship on The Chris Matthews Show was the most exiting experience of my life,” said Palmer, who spent three days each week at the NBC Washington Bureau, working side by side with Matthews and Nathan to brainstorm show topics and segments.
With the 2012 presidential campaign underway and Matthews’ biography of President John F. Kennedy, Jack Kennedy: Elusive Hero, hitting the shelves, it was the perfect time for Palmer to be a contributor on the NBC team…especially on Fridays.
“[Each Friday], before we taped the show, the staff would go downstairs and greet the guests in the NBC greenroom. One Friday in late November, I walked into the greenroom and met my hero, Bob Woodward. I couldn’t believe it. I was shaking hands with the man who broke Watergate,” Palmer said.
“Chris Matthews and Nancy Nathan are both such incredible role models to me. I learned so much from Chris, but most importantly, he taught me about relationships and hard work. ‘There are no naturals in fields that matter,’ he said when he spoke at Gettysburg. I left the experience knowing that I want to further my education and return to Washington someday.”
Palmer’s next destination: Georgetown Law.
Studying law at Georgetown, a campus intertwined with the city he loves, is a fitting next step for Palmer. He hopes that his continued education and dedication to his field will carve a path to working in the White House. For Palmer, it’s a dream rooted in a decision to attend Gettysburg College.
“Gettysburg changed my life and instilled in me a lifelong love of learning,” Palmer said. “Gettysburg taught me that the fun doesn’t have to end when you graduate from college if you pursue a career that excites you.”
Founded in 1832, Gettysburg College is a highly selective four-year residential college of liberal arts and sciences with a strong academic tradition that includes Rhodes Scholars, a Nobel laureate and other distinguished scholars among its alumni. The college enrolls 2,600 undergraduate students and is located on a 200-acre campus adjacent to the Gettysburg National Military Park in Pennsylvania.
Contact: Mike Baker, assistant director of communications, 717.337.6521.
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