Activist selected as women’s studies student marshal

Isabella Teti has been selected to represent women’s, gender, and sexuality studies at the College of the Liberal Arts commencement ceremony on May 5. The Elicott City, Maryland, native will receive degrees in women’s studies and political science.

Teti is a scholar, a leader, and an advocate here at Penn State. The Paterno Fellow has documented more than 350 hours of community service and is a social justice activist. She is also a Schreyer Honors Scholar and a member of the Presidential Leadership Academy.

Currently, Teti works as the Pennsylvania organizer for the Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), which is a bipartisan Quaker interest group. Teti is tasked with organizing local constituents to lobby Congressmen to pursue legislation on climate change solutions. Her primary focus is on environmental stewardship.

“Specifically, I'm working towards bipartisan legislation in Congress which would address the challenges we're facing due to climate change,” said Teti.

Along with advocating for climate change, Teti also advocates for LGBTQ rights, for Medicaid and other health resources for low-income Americans, for education policy reform and for closing the income gap in the U.S.

Managing to be a student, leader, and activist can be overwhelming, but that doesn't shake Teti because she knows how important her work is. “Honestly, I do it because I care too much about my advocacy work to not give it my all," she said.

There have been many times Teti has had to sacrifice her sleep, but she was still able to commit herself to her work as an advocate while also keeping up with her academic deadlines.

"Being a college student has equipped me with an understanding of the subjects of my advocacy, while my advocacy informs my academic experience. Both supplement and complement each other," said Teti.

Lee Ann Banaszak, department head and professor of political science, has had a tremendous impact on Teti as a leader. Teti was able to work with Banaszak as a research assistant and was able to connect with Banaszak as they both study political science through the lens of social movements and women's participation. “Dr. Banaszak works tirelessly at her job and holds me to a higher standard as well, Teti said "She is truly committed to her students and her work and has made great gains within the field of political science. She's someone who leads by example, and I only hope I can be as impressive as her one day.” 

Teti decided to become an advocate because she firmly believes in decorum. “I believe very strongly that when someone has the ability to do the right thing, they have the responsibility to do the right thing,” said Teti. Because of the resources available to her, Teti knows she has a voice and is capable of making a change especially in crucial matters that face today’s communities. “I've spent my time in college learning more about these challenges so that I can be prepared to tackle them now and after I graduate,” said Teti.

To ensure continuous growth and development as a leader, Teti plans to always learn from her experiences and is continually self-assessing her work. "People who get complacent about their capabilities tend to be the people who eventually fall behind in their field because you lose relevance and respect if you don't adapt to the ever-changing world," added Teti.

After graduation, Teti will combine her experience as a lobbyist and a grassroots organizer by working as a campus organizer with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group at the University of Maryland, College Park.

This is the fourth in a series of stories on the 22 student marshals representing the College of the Liberal Arts at the spring 2018 commencement ceremony.

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Last Updated April 23, 2018