Laity Spotlight: Gillian Bartels-Quansah

As another school year comes to an end, we once again say “goodbye for now” to our graduating seniors. Among them is Gillian Bartels-Quansah. Frequent Sunday service attendees may recognize her from the many times she’s sung with her sister, Reanna, and in the youth choir. Gillian has been attending PUMC for the past three years, along with her mom and sister. She says it was her mom who first got them involved. “I was part of another church in East Brunswick. My mom was drawn to the church first as she had grown up in a Methodist church. After a few weeks of bothering us about it, [my sister and I] finally visited and I just fell in love with the people and the loving atmosphere. Before we knew it, we were completely roped into the Princeton UMC community.”

In addition to the PUMC youth choir, she also sings in the Princeton High School choir and spent seven years as a member of the Princeton Girl Choir. Gillian is a self-described book worm, a Girl Scout, a lacrosse and ice hockey player, a co- instructor for Girls Who Code, and the director of Outreach for her school hackathon, hackPHS. Needless to say, she likes to stay busy!

With respect to this unusual senior year, Gillian says, “This year was challenging because we did- n’t get the fun traditional senior year that we had been dreaming of for 12 years! Not being able to see our friends, especially when it is going to be the last time we are all together was tough.” She also felt the frustration of isolation as political and racial unrest spread across the country. “We couldn’t support our friends and go out to pro- test in the traditional way. Amid the pandemic, we didn’t have access to our cultural/identity support groups. Virtually meeting is not the same. While we were together in an online setting, we were still technically alone.”

Even though this past year brought many challenges, Gillian found joy in it too. “I had more time for self-care, reflection and education. I had more time to learn about God and to spend time with my family. I had the time to educate myself on the various ways humans walk through life and my global footprint. These lessons were the best take away. Especially with the pandemic and everything that was happening in society, I feel as if I walked away with more attention to the world around me, how it impacted me, how I influenced it, and how I can make it better.”

In the fall, Gillian will be attending Barnard College, the women’s college of Columbia University. She will be studying computer science with a focus in computational biology and she’s planning to minor in science and public policy. She says, “I hope to work in the computational bio- medical field and help eliminate algorithmic dis- crimination and increase diversity in clinical trial research.”

It’s very clear that Gillian Bartels-Quansah is a special young woman with a bright future ahead of her. While that future is currently in the Big Apple itself, she will always have a home here at Princeton UMC. Gillian and her sister Reanna will be baptized during worship, June 27, and will be welcomed into professing membership alongside their mother Medina.

Gillian performs here (left) with her sister Reanna at the recent confirmation service on May 23.