• Young and engaged, students find their political voice

    Updated:

    By Marlee Pinchok, Point Park University - While a full-time student first, Mia Sterbini is part of a growing group of young adults who are dedicated to making a difference by using their voices.

    Sterbini, 19, is a sophomore majoring in acting at Point Park University. In addition to spending a significant amount of time on education, she is also fighting for the happiness of others by protesting what she believes to be unjust issues.

    “I feel like I don’t have a choice. Of course, school is important. That’s why I’m here. But the best thing that my freshman year teacher taught me about acting is that being a good actor is about being a good person. I have to actively help people, because I feel like it’s my responsibility as a person. And I think our job as actors is to heal, so for that I think you have to make time…”

     

    Although it was the inspiration of Sterbini’s acting professor, Sheila McKenna, who made her realize the importance of helping others, it was the police shooting of 17-year-old Antwon Rose in June that discontinued her silence.

    “There is no way this world can hold anymore grief," she said. "I can’t just see an injustice happening, that is not only affecting me but also millions of people, and then just share a post on social media. That’s not how it works. I am a person before I’m an actor. There’s no time to be complacent.”

    Susan Hansen, a professor of political science at the University of Pittsburgh, had this to say about the engagement of young people in this generation of young adults:

    “I definitely think there’s more activism among young people in this generation. There has been a wake up call throughout the last couple of years, especially after the shootings in Parkland, Florida...”

    “Unfortunately, since many young people are not in college, they may not be around for political activism, which results in not being affected by it. It will be interesting to see how much that translates into votes.”

    Sterbini’s first attempt at creating a protest on her own was inspired by the sexual-assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh in October. A combination of frequent social media posts, as well as finding guest speakers to help engage the audience, led to a successful turnout. 

    While highlighting sexual assault, Sterbini’s voice and those of the guest speakers motivated dozens of young people to tell their own personal stories of sexual assault. Some even shared their experiences for the first time.

    While there are many efforts to get the growing tide of political activism to equal votes, it’s not yet clear if the events of the past few months will lead to higher voter turnout among college-age young adults, especially in rural areas.

    Sterbini, however, is now dedicated to continuing her outspokenness and fighting for justice, even beyond Election Day. On Monday night, she is hosting her next event,  “Bring Me to Light,” a cabaret show benefiting Pittsburgh Action Against Rape at Point Park University.

    Additional stories from Pointe Park University:

    RESOURCES

    Next Up: