Gabriel sitting in a chair
Gabriel Barnett New York, NY College of Arts & Sciences
I do like having the range of schools and the range of students here because it makes things a lot more's great to have a little microcosm of the real world and not just be in one silo or one bubble.
Social Sciences

Gabriel’s interests are rooted in government and history. In high school in New York, he was student body president and learned about domestic and foreign policy on the debate and Model United Nations teams. Gabriel enrolled in his first political science class during the fall semester of his first year at Penn. Professor Nancy Hirschmann’s course Contemporary Political Thought introduced him to the complex and deeply analytical work required for political science classes. In Dr. Hirschmann’s class, Gabriel grappled with the notion of freedom and engaged with readings by Isaiah Berlin, Michel Foucault, and Dorothy Roberts. Dr. Hirschmann’s class led Gabriel to declare a Political Science major and he went on to concentrate in American politics and international relations.

Public Policy

Gabriel chose The Penn in Washington Semester Program to apply his political science knowledge and make an impact in the nation’s capital. There, he interned at the Penn Biden Center and took classes with D.C.-based professionals. The in-depth seminar style courses focused on the domestic legislative process, U.S. foreign policy practice, and public policy research. At the Biden Center, Gabriel helped write speeches, policy memos, and briefings on global affairs for Vice President Joe Biden and his foreign policy team. Through the Penn in Washington program, Gabriel gained an inside look at the policymaking process and began developing the practical skills needed to contribute to it. Gabriel’s D.C. semester experience connected him with influential leaders with on-the-ground experience throughout the government and led him to his next summer internship at the Brennan Center for Justice and his work for Vice President Biden’s presidential campaign.


Gabriel’s on-campus leadership demonstrated his commitment to political engagement. On the board starting in his first year, Gabriel served as Editor-In-Chief of Sound Politicks, the Undergraduate Journal of Political Science. Gabriel also employed his writing skills and political savvy for an entirely different medium, The Pennsylvania Punch Bowl, a campus satirical journal for which he wrote a political satire column. Moreover, on Penn’s politically active campus, Gabriel and the Penn Democrats board successfully expanded efforts to increase voter registration and encourage civic engagement following the 2016 election. Gabriel also stays involved in local and state elections through canvassing efforts on and off-campus. In recognition of his leadership and commitment to the University, Gabriel earned the 2020 Penn Alumni Student Award of Merit.

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