As an English and psychology double major, Drew Haritos spends plenty of time pondering words and their meanings. When she’s not in class, Haritos serves as a peer consultant at the Writing Center, executive editor for Manuscript literary magazine and an intern for Etruscan Press. She’s also a member of the Psychology Club and president of the Psi Chi honor society.
This summer, she’s looking at words in a whole new way as an intern for the Legislative Reference Bureau. Located in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania’s state capital, the Bureau works behind the scenes to get bills and resolutions ready for members of the state House of Representatives and Senate.
The senior’s interest in politics is relatively new as she previously distanced herself from the loud and contentious discourse. Following the Supreme Court’s Roe v. Wade ruling, Haritos decided she had to get involved. “I have the ability to potentially make a difference in the state,” she says. “I began to realize just how far a single voice could travel and how big a difference a person could make.”
Haritos took part in the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge to encourage nonpartisan political participation among her peers. She started a chapter of Students for Shapiro to support Josh Shapiro’s campaign for Pennsylvania governor, earning her the honor of an inaugural invite following his election. Now she’s ready to grow her academic experience and her passion for defending the little guy as she shadows staffers responsible for preparing state legislation. “In order to have a functional democracy, we have to care about people,” says Haritos.
Though Wilkes wasn’t on Haritos’s mind until a high school counselor suggested it to her, the University’s culture of caring was apparent from her first visit. “I knew this was going to be it the second I stepped on campus,” she says. “It felt like home the second I got here.”
Haritos has experienced unwavering support from staff and faculty, including mentors whose insights go beyond scheduling classes. Mischelle Anthony, associate professor and chair of the English department, lets students know that there’s more than one path to success and encourages open conversation. “I try to let the student talk more than I do,” Anthony says. “Drew lets me know her struggles and triumphs because we’ve established that relationship.”
Deborah Tindell, professor of psychology, shares personal examples of overcoming challenges to help students believe in their own abilities. “I want students to always feel heard and supported, and know that I am a safe space to share any thoughts they may be having,” she says. “I hope to challenge them to try new things and push their limits, all while knowing that I am there to support them. I want them to believe in themselves and know that anything is possible.”
With a foundation of confidence built on her time at Wilkes, Haritos is spending the summer in the state capital. She took the LSAT in June so she can start applying to law schools in the fall of her senior year. By focusing on Constitutional law, Haritos hopes to make a difference by helping others find their voice — like Wilkes did for her.
“I feel like this is a home, not an institution. I can’t begin to express the love I have for this school,” says Haritos. “Coming here changed my life.”