When Ally Schultz ’20 was looking for colleges, the Eisenhower Institute made Gettysburg College the obvious frontrunner – and when she met an Eisenhower Institute Undergraduate Fellow during her campus tour, she was determined to be a Gettysburgian.
“I always knew I wanted to study political science, and the academic rigor of Gettysburg combined with the opportunities provided by the Eisenhower Institute made Gettysburg perfect for me. I knew this is where I wanted to be the first time I stepped on campus.”
After arriving in Gettysburg from her hometown of Allentown, Pa., Schultz did not hesitate to get involved. In her first-year, she participated in the Eisenhower Institute’s Women and Leadership program and took full advantage of the Institute’s dual locations. “I had never spent any time in D.C., and the Women and Leadership trip provided me a hands-on opportunity to meet alumni and practice my networking skills that would be so important to me, not only throughout my college career, but after graduating as well.”
The Institute’s Washington, D.C., location is just blocks from the White House and offers a space for Gettysburg students to experience our nation’s capital, as well as to connect with alumni to expand their network.
Schultz dove into all aspects of life as a Gettysburgian, participating in political organizations, Greek Life, and El Centro with the Center for Public Service. Her sophomore year though, she had an experience that set her on path towards her passions.
Through the Eisenhower Institute, Schultz traveled to Israel with twelve other Gettysburg students. While in Ramallah, the de facto capital of Palestine, she met a group of students her age. “I remember talking to someone who had been in a refugee camp, and after this experience, I became really passionate about wanting to help others in similar situations,” she recounted.
This put Schultz on a mission. Her junior year, with the help of the Center for Global Education, she applied for the Eisenhower Institute’s Dwight D. Eisenhower/Conrad N. Hilton Scholarship to help fund her study abroad semester in Serbia with the SIT Balkans program. There, she volunteered in the community and assisted with the local refugee population which only furthered her goals to work with displaced peoples.
But she was not done yet. During her senior year, Ally applied and was selected to serve as an EI Undergraduate Fellow. Under the leadership of Professor Brendan Cushing-Daniels, the Fellows spend an academic year meeting with top experts in the field, traveling overseas, and moderating panels with academics and practitioners.
That year, the Fellows studied the intersections of national government and the private sector under the theme “The Government We Pay For.” Ally described it as the type of experiential learning that drew her to the Eisenhower Institute: “This is not an opportunity I would have gotten in a normal class setting or at another college.”
After graduation, Ally used her Gettysburg education and networking experience to land an internship at American Near East Refugee Aid (ANERA) in Washington, D.C. After the summer, that internship became a full-time job as a development assistant. “I hadn’t exactly planned on starting a career in the non-profit sector, but participating in so many Eisenhower Institute programs cemented how important it is for me to be in a nonpartisan environment that fosters growth and understanding.” Even though ANERA is not affiliated with any religious or political groups, Shultz says the work they do with refugees and vulnerable communities is inherently political. “It’s about carefully working alongside a political process in order to create programs that elicit measurable social impacts.”
Living in the heart of Washington, D.C., Schultz has set her sights on helping as many people as possible – and she credits Gettysburg College and the Eisenhower Institute for supporting her on her journey to becoming a global citizen and an agent of change. “I don’t think I would have this job if I didn’t go through these programs to find my niche areas and develop as a leader.”
The Eisenhower Institute promotes nonpartisan discourse and critical analysis of issues of long-term importance through a variety of initiatives, including its undergraduate programs, which are led by expert scholars and practitioners in areas ranging from strategic leadership and environmental policy to civil rights and the Middle East. These programs enhance students’ academic experience at Gettysburg College by providing practical connections to topics of policy study.
By Lauren Cole
Photos by Meira Ruben '20 and Ally Schultz '20