Senior Beth Gilbert Puts Political Science Degree to Work As Newly Elected City Councilwoman
Wilkes University senior Beth Gilbert is putting her political science degree to work
as the newly elected representative for the District C Seat of the Wilkes-Barre City
Gilbert, a Democrat who will be the youngest person on the council, beat her opponent by a landslide, 631-161.
Gilbert represents the Heights, Mayflower and downtown districts. She hopes to continue to strengthen the downtown area while working on blighted property and crime in residential areas.
“It is reassuring that the community feels so strongly about my campaign and my message. I am certain that the community will band together to help move our city forward,” she said. “I'm most excited about finally getting in there and proposing new ideas to the council and to the residents of Wilkes-Barre. Wilkes-Barre has made great progress, but I am excited to spread that to other areas of the city.”
Gilbert, a Wilkes-Barre native, is minoring in policy studies, international studies and women’s studies. Her interest in local government began in high school when she was involved with Junior Council. She said many day-to-day services, like trash pickup and emergency medicine, are provided by local government, and that many people underestimate what it can accomplish.
“I could have waited four years to run, but I knew I had something to bring to the table now, and I thought, why wait? I have always been interested in giving back, and I figured there was no better way than to run for office.”
As someone who is passionate about local government, Gilbert wanted a chance to learn how government can operate on a much larger scale - an opportunity she recently received by interning with the United Nations.
Taking advantage of an opportunity presented by the Humpty Dumpty Institute, a nonprofit that partners with government entities to find solutions to humanitarian issues, Gilbert spent this summer interning for the permanent mission of the Republic of Rwanda to the United Nations.
She attended the general assembly meetings as a partial representative for Rwanda, where they discussed topics such as Millennial development goals and issues facing women.
“It helped me learn how to interact with people of different cultures all over the world,” Gilbert said. “The cultural differences are really interesting.”
Before her internship, Gilbert assumed that women in Rwanda were oppressed, but she was surprised to find that Rwanda has more women leaders in the government than the United States.
“The people are oppressed in some ways, but in other ways they have more freedoms than we do,” she said. “To see the U.S. compared to a country like Rwanda and still be behind in some aspects, it really put things in perspective.”