Working on Quill Has Transformed Danielle Maddox's Education

When Danielle Maddox was a child, her mother would gather her and her siblings and cousins together for history lessons in the summer, followed by popsicles and games. The topics spanned ancient Greece to the present day, focusing on the human quest for freedom. The lessons instilled in Danielle an appreciation of history and a thirst for knowledge.

So when Danielle was a first-year student at Utah Valley University and a friend suggested she apply for a job at the Center for Constitutional Studies, it sounded like a dream job. At the end of her first semester in the center, she was invited to work on the Quill Project. Working on the project has given her experience beyond what many graduate students are exposed to.

Internships on the Quill Project are possible for UVU students because of a partnership between UVU and Pembroke College at the University of Oxford in England. Using a unique technology, the project is digitizing all of the definitive documents related to the writing of the U.S. Constitution, state constitutions, and other founding documents. Interning with Quill gives students opportunities to take part in a high-impact project that will advance our understanding of the meaning of the constitution and other documents.

Danielle and another student were assigned to research the 1895 Utah Constitutional Convention. They scoured the state archives, old newspapers, and digitized microfilm to piece together the convention process. They analyzed everything from the discussion of where each delegate would sit to how each proposal was introduced. They even transcribed hand-written proposals that had never been digitized.

Combing through the minutes of the convention, says Danielle, “You start to become acquainted with the personalities. And you think, ‘oh my goodness, you would say that.’ It’s kind of fun.”

In November of last year, Danielle and two other Quill interns went to England for a week. They spent mornings working at Pembroke College with the project director, Nicholas Cole. That uninterrupted time with their mentor has improved communication across the pond and given the students a deeper understanding of the scope and potential impact of the project.

In the afternoons the students toured Oxford, visiting the Bodleian Library and Oxford Tower. One day they lunched at the Eagle and Child Pub, where C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien regularly met. “I fell absolutely in love with England,” says Danielle. “When we drove into Oxford, I felt like I had made it — it’s history and education at its finest, and it is so beautiful.”

Working on Quill, Danielle has developed an appreciation for committing herself to something completely. “Because I’ve been so dedicated to Quill — I go in every day and follow a specific process — it has changed me as a student. I commit myself to my classes more,” she says. After graduating, she plans to go to law school and focus on constitutional law. “I’ve committed myself to my future goals and to doing every little step to make that big dream come true.”

UVU is seeking funding to support engaged learning and service experiences for students. Your gift to the Center for Constitutional Studies will help students like Danielle participate in internships and service projects that will have a profound impact on their learning and preparation for careers and public service. Give to the Center for Constitutional Studies