Date Published: February 28, 2014
Jennifer van Gelder, a senior from St. Petersburg, FL, has become an avid volunteer during her time at Clemson. As a member of Gamma Sigma Sigma Service Sorority, Jennifer is involved with an organization called Camp Spearhead, a weekend camp for children and adults with disabilities. Through Gamma Sigma Sigma, she has completed more than 20 hours of service each semester.
Prior to her freshmen year, Jennifer participated in the EUREKA! Program, studying the gene expressions of senescent leaf coloration and peach flesh color under the direction of Dr. Douglas Bielenberg. The following summer, Jennifer returned to the EUREKA! Program as a counselor with the Genetics and Biochemistry department. As a result of these research experiences and her personal interests, Jennifer is pursuing a dual degree in Psychology and Genetics in hopes of becoming a genetics counselor.
In addition to service and research, Jennifer is a member of the Dixon Fellows Program, which has challenged her to study new topics and question new ideas. She says that these experiences “have taught me to think more abstractly and challenge myself to broaden my education.” This summer Jennifer will be participating in the Brussels program and working at Camp COAST for a second year with children on the autism spectrum. She will also begin her Honors research thesis under the direction of Dr. Christina Wells in the Biological Sciences department. Jennifer is a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Psi Chi Honorary Societies. She will be inducted into the prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Honorary Society in Spring 2014.
Advice: I would advise any freshmen not to be afraid to try something new, but not to get too involved too early! Make sure to give some time to yourself to get acclimated to college and the rigor of college classes. You have plenty of time to find those organizations that you are passionate about and to which you can really commit yourself!