Gettysburgians are committed to lives of service and civic engagement. Bryan Barth ’13, assistant supervisor of the charging unit at the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office, has been passionate about advocacy since high school, during which he joined Model UN and the debate team. These experiences prompted the Philadelphia native to quickly learn public speaking skills and to articulate his position of advocacy.
“[Model UN] involved a lot of public speaking while sometimes advocating for a position you would never otherwise find yourself supporting,” said Barth, who, at the time, began to understand the value of hearing new perspectives.
Today, Barth applies this same commitment to advocacy in his work. In the charging unit, Barth determines the proper charges against alleged offenders after their arrest. His role balances not only the right to a fair trial in regard to alleged charges, but also the justice requested by victims. Specifically, he stands up for victims who might not have a voice.
“Many of the victims we encounter have been through the lowest points of their lives and are just looking for someone to stand up for them and help them, so to be that person is truly rewarding,” said Barth, who has always lent a helping hand throughout his life thanks to a value instilled in him by his parents.
“I feel like I always had a public service bug deep down but didn't realize it until I was exposed to more opportunities later,” he continued. “I always want the best for those around me. … I’ve had so many great opportunities throughout my life and feel that making sure other people have a voice is very important to me,” he continued.
When Barth discovered Gettysburg College, he resonated with its close-knit community and plethora of academic and co-curricular offerings, as it was the only college that he visited where he felt a sense of connection with its multitude of resources. Once at Gettysburg, he then participated in and led the “Inside Politics” program at the Eisenhower Institute, which he remembers as an “invaluable” experience. By his senior year, he was a member of the Institute’s social media and communications team.
Combining his passions for politics and public service in the classroom, Barth declared a major in political science. He cites his former political science professors, including Prof. Bruce Larson, Prof. Roy Dawes, and Prof. Rob Bohrer as some of his closest connections throughout his studies because each faculty member had a profound impact on him.
After graduating in 2013, Barth launched his career in law by studying at Widener University’s Delaware Law School. He found that the interdisciplinary nature of Gettysburg’s liberal arts and sciences education set him up for success.
“A liberal arts education is the best prep for law school,” Barth said. “Having an education that spans a broad array of disciplines does a great job in preparation for [practicing and studying law].”
This diverse background made Barth well-suited for the team-focused environment at the District Attorney’s Office. He started as an intern at the office during law school and transitioned to a full-time role in 2016. In the charging unit specifically, Barth makes bail requests, reviews arrest warrants, and handles charges for those arrested within the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The 24/7 unit requires Barth to work quickly and efficiently while communicating with police, defense attorneys, and partners in the criminal justice community.
“Everyone at the DA’s office is focused on working together to ensure the right outcome,” he said.
At the end of each workday, it’s his commitment to helping others that continues fueling Barth: “It may sound cliché, but my favorite part of the job is being in the position to always do the right thing and truly being able to make a difference.”
Explore how the Eisenhower Institute prepares students for lives of civic engagement and public service.
By Phoebe Doscher ’22
Photos by Eric Lee ’15 and courtesy of Bryan Barth ’13