One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Kaylee Guetter, Student Public Relations Writer

Washington D.C. is not an easy place for outsiders, but one Cedarville University student overcame the odds. Claudia Gemmel, a sophomore majoring in molecular biology, landed a spot in the fall 2023 D.C. semester and became an outlier among nine juniors and seniors majoring in history or government.

Claudia GemmelEvery fall, a select group of students spend the semester in Washington D.C. along with a professor from Cedarville’s history and government department. Students serve as interns on or near Capitol Hill and complete coursework led by the attending professor. Due to the location and subject matter, the program generally attracts students studying history or political science, but Gemmel has proven the semester in Washington D.C. is open to students of all majors and classes.

Gemmel, who hails from Lexington Park, Maryland, has always been interested in politics, but after taking a class on politics and American culture with Dr. Kevin Sims, senior professor of political science, she was driven to get involved.

“I love biology, but I was craving more of the policy discussions and passion for politics that I experienced in Dr. Sims’ class,” reflected Gemmel. “So, I began to look for ways to feed that hunger, and the semester in D.C. was the perfect opportunity.”

Gemmel was unsure if she would get accepted into the D.C. program because she was outside the department, but her determination to blend politics with molecular biology led to her acceptance into the program. While in D.C., Gemmel worked in the House of Representatives for Congressman Andy Harris, the Republican representative of Maryland’s first district. She assisted constituents and learned about the complexities of government work.

“My internship was a very humanizing experience,” said Gemmel. “Creating relationships with politicians and hearing the needs of constituents gave me compassion for both those who work in government and the people who come the government for help.”

Gemmel hopes to remain involved in government and plans to pursue opportunities that involve both molecular biology and politics.

“I found that there is a place in D.C. for experts in biology, whether through research or policymaking,” said Gemmel. “Politics and STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are a great duo, and I’m excited to find new opportunities to use both my passions to make a difference.”

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