Erin Baumgartner selected as global and international studies marshal

Michaela Harpster
April 16, 2020

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of Penn State’s 2020 spring commencement activities, Erin Baumgartner will represent the Department of Global and International Studies in the College of the Liberal Arts as the department’s student marshal.

In response to the growing coronavirus pandemic, orders from the state government and recommendations from global public health organizations, Penn State will hold its spring 2020 commencement ceremony via livestream on May 9. The virtual ceremony will recognize all Penn State undergraduate students and all graduate students in the Penn State Graduate School.

Baumgartner, a Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar, will graduate with bachelor of arts degrees in global and international studies and international politics, with minors in Spanish and German. Her faculty marshal is Anita Starosta, associate teaching professor of Polish and English.

Baumgartner took control of her education by creating her own pathway under global and international studies. Her innovative path, which she named “The Culture of Peace and Conflict Studies,” incorporated humanities and social science methods in thinking about global issues. “I believe the importance of both of these aspects of courses of study are vital, and therefore warrant constituting a new pathway, because it is only together that they can truly provide a comprehensive and thoughtful exploration into the subject of conflict,” she said.

During her time at Penn State, Baumgartner engaged in a variety of opportunities. She participated in the UNESCO Youth Researcher’s project, where she helped conduct first-hand research on campus concerning social justice issues. She specifically focused on projects about intersectionality and mental health. Baumgartner said she also was proud to volunteer for Shaver’s Creek Outdoor School. In this role, she helped provide environmental education for children in a fun, hands-on setting. Furthermore, she studied abroad in both Spain and Chile. On top of all of that, Baumgartner was the president of Penn State UNICEF, in which she engaged in fundraising and advocacy.

Reflecting on her time at Penn State, Baumgartner said, “One of the best aspects of my time at Penn State was the interdisciplinary aspect of my major, which allowed me to take a really broad range of classes that I loved. More than anything, everything I was a part of at Penn State has made me passionate about continually learning more about the world.”

After graduation, Baumgartner hopes to pursue opportunities related to social justice and nonprofit work in the D.C. area.

Baumgartner offered Liberal Arts first-year students the following advice.

“Coming to Penn State, there are an incredible amount of opportunities relating to academics, culture and language, passions, philanthropy, sports, and so much more," she said. "It can definitely be overwhelming, but I think the best thing you can do is try out a lot of different things in order to find things you are passionate about and a community which supports and inspires you.”

This is the third in a series of stories on the 24 student marshals representing the College of the Liberal Arts during the spring 2020 commencement activities.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated April 17, 2020