Lexy Pathickal does not let fear stand in the way of trying to spark change

Ellie West
February 22, 2021

Senior political science major Lexy Pathickal influences positive change in all realms of the campus community. As vice president of the University Park Undergraduate Association (UPUA), a peer adviser in the College of the Liberal Arts, and a member of the Lion Ambassadors, Pathickal serves as a liaison for all students and provides opportunities for their voices to be heard.

As Pathickal and UPUA president Zachary McKay assumed the helm of the organization last spring, they had hoped to make increased communication, engagement, and overall transparency within the student government association their top priorities. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, the two quickly found themselves challenged with navigating a “new normal.”

“With everything being through Zoom, Zach and I wanted to ensure that we were still reaching out to students to hear their concerns or frustrations and really just creating a platform from that,” she said. “Fostering community was a huge emphasis for us going into all of this.”

Pathickal is proud of what the UPUA has been able to achieve despite being in a mostly virtual environment. On top of facilitating the implementation of policies such as alternative grading protocols, they have worked closely with groups like the Indigenous Peoples' Student Association (IPSA) and Penn State Climate Action to advocate for Penn State’s Indigenous population and to push for important climate action and legislation on campus.

Increasing awareness of and honoring different black historical figures at Penn State has been a focus for UPUA this semester, Pathickal noted.

“There aren't many black historical figures who are highlighted or celebrated on campus, but they are very much a part of our school’s history,” she said. “We are in the process of planning some kind of commemoration for individuals like Jesse Arnelle, Wally Triplett, and many others who have had such a huge impact on our college culture.”

Pathickal said her experiences in UPUA have given her a valuable outlook and taught her an important lesson. “You can love something with your whole heart and still be critical of it,” she said. “You have to think, ‘What can I do better?’ because there is always room for positive change.” 

As an adviser in the College of the Liberal Arts’ peer advising program, Pathickal mentors first-year students, helping them make the transition to college and offering advice on how to make the most out of their time at Penn State.

“I always encourage first-year students to really put themselves out there,” Pathickal said. “Although a big part of your college experience is obviously academics and professionalism, at the end of the day it's the connections you make here that will stay with you for the rest of your life. Those relationships can catapult you into your career and your life after college.”  

Pathickal plans to attend law school after graduation and hopes to pursue a career in public service so she can continue being a resilient change-maker and advocate for important issues.

At the end of the day, Pathickal’s best piece of advice for fellow Penn State students is to never let one’s fears or doubts hold them back.

“With everything I’ve done, I have always considered the possibility of failure or not getting the position,” she said. “But if I always followed through with that mindset, I would never be where I am today. The organizations I’ve joined and the relationships I’ve made have impacted my life so much, and I never would have had those opportunities if I let my fears get in the way. Ultimately, if it makes you scared it very well might change your life.”

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Last Updated February 22, 2021