Catching up with Jennifer DeNardis



Nothing quite piques an interest in politics like putting kids in charge of policy-making. Jennifer DeNardis’s first interest in political science began just before her freshman year of high school, when she participated in 4-H of Wisconsin’s Kids in the Capitol seminar at the annual Youth Leadership Conference, where she and a group of other young adults shaped and voted on hypothetical policies that would affect their age group directly.


This session of passionate debate and reluctant compromise was the initial step towards an interest in how political systems work, both nationally and abroad, and it eventually led DeNardis to study International Relations at Valparaiso University. “Understanding the historical and present aspects of political science can provide many of the clues to explaining the nature of international relations today and could also give us insight into the future,” DeNardis said. “The power plays buried within international relations can reveal a lot about potential political moves that a state makes.”


A member of Valparaiso University’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha since 2017, DeNardis has been active in political science both on campus and off. In the summer of 2016, she pursued an internship with the United States Senate, learning firsthand how national politics can be intertwined with interactions between countries. During her junior and senior years on campus, she also worked in the Community Research and Service Center (the CRSC) at Valparaiso University. The CRSC focuses on local issues in Northwest Indiana, including analyzing surveys of drug and alcohol usage in young adults and examining bias-motivated incidents in the state.


She is also a member of the University’s interdisciplinary honors college, Christ College, and was recently honored as an initiate into the Eta of Indiana Chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest Arts and Sciences Honor Society. A recent graduate of Valparaiso University, DeNardis has chosen to continue her education in graduate school, pursuing a Master’s degree at George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs, in their Security Policy Studies program. She hopes to pursue the study of international security, focusing on counter-terrorism and conflict prevention.