Photo by Lindsey Tufts, CatholicU Class of 2021

Name: Gemma del Carmen

Field of Study: Politics and Psychology double major

Status: Undergraduate  

Graduation Year: 2022

Hometown: Arlington, Texas

Why did you choose Catholic University? My grandfather was a member of The Catholic University class of 1960 and as a result, I grew up hearing about CatholicU. It was this fact alongside the incredible opportunities provided by the ideal D.C. location and small campus community at Catholic that finalized my decision.

Organizations and activities: I am honored to be entering my third year of involvement with the Student Government Association on campus. My first two years at Catholic, I served as a senator for the class of 2022 and legislated on important issues that students were facing; I am now honored to serve as the student body vice president for the 2020-2021 school year and I look forward to creating impactful change on campus for the students. I am also heavily involved with the Orientation Program and am entering my second year of being an OA. There is nothing better than the positive energy all members of the Orientation staff bring each and every day of Orientation to welcome first year students and their families.

"The most unique aspect of Catholic University is absolutely its sense of community."
– Gemma del Carmen

Favorite course: One of my favorite courses that I have taken at Catholic was "Latin American Women Writers: The Struggle for Representation" taught by Dr. Juan Sebastián Ospina León. The course focuses on lesser known Latin American female writers who wrote despite it being societally taboo at the time. Learning about these fascinating women who used their talent to speak out against their oppression inspired me every day in the classroom to never take my voice and education for granted and to ultimately use them for good.  

Goals: In the near future, I am hoping to teach English in Spain for a year through a Fulbright scholarship and then attend law school. I am hoping to practice Immigration law or any other sort of law that centers on social justice.

Is there a faculty or staff member who has made a significant impact on you? There are so many faculty and staff members at CatholicU who have made my experience so worthwhile and who have truly inspired me. One in particular is Dr. Mayka Puente, my Spanish professor for the course "Spanish for Heritage Speakers" that I took my first two semesters freshman year. I remember crying after my first class with her because I felt like I wouldn't be able to succeed as well as the other Spanish speaking students in my class; I am the daughter of two Central American immigrants, but my oral Spanish has never been great and I was worried I would disappoint her. Over the course of the year, she empowered me to speak Spanish with confidence and I even grew to adore Spanish creative writing. She was compassionate, nurturing, and a great professor; her class truly changed my life and made me stronger and more confident in myself and my capabilities.

What makes Catholic University unique? The most unique aspect of Catholic University is absolutely its sense of community. The people I have encountered within my first two years at CatholicU are unlike any other. They are the most driven, kind, and faithful people I have met and I feel very honored to be considered a part of such a welcoming community.

Proudest accomplishment: I am most proud to have written legislation in the Student Senate my freshman year to champion for free menstrual hygiene products in women's restrooms on campus. While the legislation is still being advocated for, it began conversations on campus about menstrual equity, a topic that is rarely openly discussed. Additionally, Congresswoman Grace Meng, an advocate for menstrual equity on the congressional level, came to speak at CatholicU my sophomore year to discuss the work I had done and the importance of menstrual equity on college campuses.

What Catholic University means to you: While there are dozens of experiences that I have had at CatholicU that have been truly magical, there is one that most definitely exemplifies what Catholic means to me. On my 20th birthday, my best friend Madeline asked me to walk to the Basilica with her to have a night chat as we often do. We eventually headed back to my dorm room and when I opened the door, to my surprise, my room was covered in streamers, occupied by 15 of my friends, and there were photos of my favorite D.C. memories everywhere. I was reminded that day of a favorite Spanish saying of mine "Obras son amores y no buenas razones" meaning "Love is action and not merely good reasons." My friends at Catholic show Christlike love to me often through their action and this inspires me everyday to want to love better. The love I have received from those I have encountered at Catholic exemplifies what Catholic University means to me.