UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As part of Penn State’s 2020 spring commencement activities, senior Siobhan Leonard will represent the Department of Comparative Literature 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.
Leonard, a Paterno Fellow and Schreyer Scholar, will graduate with bachelor of arts degrees in comparative literature and global and international studies. Her faculty marshal is Henry Morello, associate teaching professor of comparative literature.
During her time at Penn State, Leonard was involved in a number of activities and organizations. She co-founded the Comparative Literature Club at Penn State and worked as a website designer to create and maintain the club’s website. Since her second year, she has been on the Penn State Dressage Team, which provides students the opportunity to take lessons in classical dressage, a highly skilled form of horse riding. Leonard was also a teaching assistant for a course on environmental science.
Leonard has pursued her interests in international politics, cultures and human rights through various internship and study abroad experiences. During the summer of 2017, she studied Chinese globalization and literature at Nanjing University in China. She spent the fall 2018 semester at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. After completing the program in Dublin, Leonard became an IES Abroad Ambassador and served as a representative to prospective students.
Last summer, Leonard interned in Odessa, Ukraine, at the Eastern European Centre for Multiparty Democracy (EECMD), an organization based in Ukraine and Georgia that supports reform motivated political actors. Her Schreyer honors thesis is on democracy in Ukraine and explores the effect oligarchs in government had on the Ukranian Revolution of 2014. In addition to her internship with the EECMD, Leonard previously interned at Hanbidge Law, LLC and with State Representative Elizabeth Hanbidge of the 61st District. At the 2018 International Conference on Global Human Rights, she presented her paper titled “Militarization and Feminization of Refugee Camps in Waltz with Bashir.”
Next year, Leonard will pursue a master’s degree from New York University. As she prepares for the next stage of her academic journey, she reflected on her time in the College of the Liberal Arts.
“Penn State's liberal arts education has challenged me to critically examine the world around me, while encouraging me to recognize my own potential to make an impact in the world,” she said. “My liberal arts education will undoubtedly play an important role in my future career as I continue to implement change in the fight against injustice.”
To students in the College of the Liberal Arts, Leonard offers short, but sweet, advice: “Follow what your heart tells you, and most importantly, live your passion.”
This is the 13th in a series of stories on the 24 student marshals representing the College of the Liberal Arts during the spring 2020 commencement activities.