Strong-willed, argumentative and persuasive, Kylie Gardner has learned how to make her point. From placing fifth in a national high school debate to fighting over the last piece of pizza as the youngest of six siblings, she has been training for a career in politics her whole life.
To some, politics, debate and government are dreaded and avoided topics; Kylie, however, considers this her passion. From a young age, she was intrigued by the differences in government systems found around the world. After taking a Model United Nations course in middle school, she embraced her interest by joining the debate team and being active in the student government at her high school in Sarasota, Fla.
Transitioning to college life during the first year is different for every student. Kylie heard about Geneva College from friends and never stepped foot on campus until freshman orientation. Although she had to adjust to a school smaller than her high school, Kylie automatically fell in love with the campus’ atmosphere. “I love walking to class and seeing familiar faces; even if I don't know them, they still are people I've seen before and recognize.”
And she’s thriving in the challenging academic, Christ-centered environment of Geneva. As a junior political science major, Kylie not only learns about politics and law-making, she applies her interest in and out of the classroom. Her passion is fed by her professors Dr. Thomas Copeland and Dr. Frederick Neikirk through the interest and intensity with which they teach their classes. “My professors are passionate about what they teach, and how they teach instills that passion even more in me.”
Although Geneva College’s campus is in Pennsylvania, solidly placed in the U.S.A., Kylie didn't let this hinder her interest in international politics. In the fall of 2011, Kylie spent three months in Italy through Geneva’s Semester in Rome program. There she took courses in humanities, an Italian film class, and an Italian culture and language class.
With the help of her advisor, Dr. Copeland, she completed an independent study in Rome on Italian politics. “This opportunity allowed me to think differently about issues,” she said. “While living in a different culture, you can appreciate why it works and are open to examining their government from a different perspective.” As part of her project, she interviewed Italians about how they view their government in an effort to understand how a natural citizen of the country feels. “The more you are able to immerse yourself into the everyday lives of the Italian culture, the more you are able to be a part of their lives and live as more than just a tourist.”
Kylie plans to attend law school after graduation and eventually work as a prosecuting attorney. One day, she may even jump into the political arena herself. Wherever she ends up, Kylie follows the advice she has heard many times from her parents. “God gives people different passions to fulfill different purposes in His kingdom,” she says. “I'm just trying to follow God’s purpose for my life.”
- Monica Miller ’12
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