When Elizabeth Miller ’19 was first accepted to Gettysburg College, she attended a Gettysburg Send-Off welcome event. There, she met a student who spoke about her experience as an Undergraduate Fellow through the Eisenhower Institute.
“She raved about her experience with the Eisenhower Institute and encouraged me to get involved,” said Miller. Three years later, Miller applied to be an Undergraduate Fellow and has since had the opportunity through the program to connect her learning to issues of importance in the realm of policy and current events.
This academic year’s Undergraduate Fellows comprise eight seniors. Each student in the program brings a unique perspective and set of experiences to a common theme of study—this year, “Common Security and Common Prosperity.”
“This theme is about connecting to President Eisenhower’s legacy and rooting it in the current historical moment,” said Prof. Brendan Cushing-Daniels, the Harold G. Evans Chair of Eisenhower Leadership Studies.
The Fellows’ study was divided into five immersive and timely subtopics: income inequality, climate change, terrorism, the refugee crisis, and alliances. In the fall semester, Fellows traveled to Washington, D.C., to meet with professionals in the nonprofit sector, nongovernmental organizations, and international agencies. Students met and held discussions with practitioners and field experts.
While Undergraduate Fellows must be in their senior year, students can be selected from any major or minor, which offers a unique opportunity for the cohort to possess diverse talents and viewpoints. “I think if we start to think about any of these topics as owned by a particular discipline or particular perspective, then we will be weaker for the experience,” said Cushing-Daniels. “Ideas that move us—Gettysburg College and the world—forward are welcome.”
Meet five Fellows and learn about their high-impact experiences.
Luca Menicali ’19
Home: Fermo, Italy
Extracurricular activities: Resident Assistant, Peer Learning Associate for the Economics and Mathematics departments, intramural sports official, member of the Men’s Varsity Tennis team, and member of the Theta Chapter of Sigma Chi.
“What I found attractive about the Eisenhower Institute Undergraduate Fellows program was the experiential education aspect. I wanted to immerse myself into a program that would allow me to develop knowledge and interpersonal skills. My career plan is to conduct socially impactful and policy-oriented research. Therefore, my goal is to obtain real-world exposure as it pertains to public policy.
“What I like the most about the program is the opportunity to meet with experts on the various topics we are covering. We have the opportunity to ask about their opinion on climate change, income inequality, and national security, as well as how their jobs address those issues. On campus, the Fellows split up into three groups and are putting together panels of experts to inform the campus community on specific issues. My group focuses on the ways in which climate change affects minority groups.”
Elizabeth Miller ’19
Home: Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Extracurricular activities: Facilitator with the Gettysburg Recreational Adventure Board (GRAB), and Admissions Tour Guide
“My experience as an Undergraduate Fellow has allowed me to apply my academic interests in a practical learning environment, continue my professional development, and make meaningful connections around the world. Throughout the rest of the semester, the Fellows are hosting panels to highlight current global security and prosperity issues, which will be another great opportunity to bring our experiences and conversations we had abroad back to campus and elevate the debate surrounding common security and prosperity.”
Grecia Patino ’19
Home: Watsonville, California
Minor: Peace and Justice Studies
Extracurricular activities: Member of the Gettysburg African Student Association (GASA), member of the Latin American Student Association, member of the Gettysburg News Network, Painted Turtle Farm volunteer, Campus Kitchen volunteer, and SCCAP Shelter volunteer
“It was important for me to be involved in the Eisenhower Institute because I wanted to surround myself with people who have similar interests and ultimately cared for these policy and social issues as well.
“I already had an interest on some of these topics the Fellows are discussing, such as climate change, income inequality, and the refugee crisis. Being able to learn about these issues and meet with people in these fields has been very eye-opening. It has given me a sense of direction of what I can do after graduation. Knowing and learning about the many problems that exist has definitely made me want to go into a field where I can work on a solution.”
Daniel Shussett ’19
Home: Allentown, Pennsylvania
Minor: Political science
Extracurricular activities: Student Outreach Ambassador in the Development, Alumni, and Parent Relations department
“I decided to apply based in part on previous positive experiences with the Eisenhower Institute, having participated in Environmental Leadership my freshman year and Inside Politics in my sophomore year. I found these previous experiences to be great educational experiences and beneficial to my career goals.
“The biggest takeaways I have had from this experience largely developed from our Western Europe trip over winter break. During this trip, we had the opportunity to meet with a wide range of European and international officials on topics such as refugees, terrorism, economic inequality, climate change, and alliances (EU/NATO/US). Prior to the trip, I felt I had a very firm grasp of such issues, but throughout the trip I developed a much more rigorous understanding of these important topics through a European lens, which then drastically changed my views on common prosperity and security and how the Americans and Europeans hope to achieve these goals.”
Ryan Simonton ’19
Home: Wilmington, Delaware
Major: Environmental studies
Extracurricular activities: Member of intramural sports, and member of the Theta Chapter of Sigma Chi
“I was drawn to the program after hearing that it wasn’t restricted to political science majors. In addition, I thought it would be a great experience to explore President Eisenhower's work through the lens of public policy. Experiential learning was another large component that I was drawn to.
“Learning about one thing in the classroom is completely different from talking to people in the field. Meeting with European Parliament members, Greenpeace employees, and the Lithuanian ambassador to NATO was invaluable. Although we hear about events in Europe in our daily lives, it was powerful to meet with influential figures and to learn firsthand about the work they were focusing on.”
By Abigail Major ’19