Junior Brings Together Diverse Communities to Discuss Social Justice Issues


Mari Teli, FCRH ’22, balances two majors and several extraciricular activities. (Courtesy of Mari Teli)

Katherine Morris, Digital Producer

While many students spent the last few days recovering from a grueling midterms week, Mari Teli, FCRH ’22, spent last weekend in a three-day long conference strategizing meaningful ways to promote democracy and uplift underrepresented communities. 

As a double major in both biology and political science on the pre-med track, Teli brings together her desire to help people and passion for justice both in her career aspirations and her on-campus involvement. When not writing out meticulous biology notes or experimenting in the kitchen, Teli works in the Community Center for Engaged Learning at Fordham, helps freshmen as a faculty assistant student advisor, researches E. coli cells in Dr. Thrall’s lab and serves on the board for Global Outreach (GO!) at Rose Hill. 

Teli was introduced to GO! during her freshman year when she decided to attend GO! Alaska as a way to get involved in on-campus activities. She enjoyed the chance to travel and the community she discovered, and she went on to participate in GO! Mexico her sophomore year as well. According to Teli, “GO! is a cultural immersion learning project in which we partner with different communities throughout the world to learn about their culture and educate ourselves about their work and projects.”

This semester, Teli was nominated to be a GO! leader. Unfortunately, due to the travel restrictions of the ongoing pandemic, GO! had to adapt and decided to create virtual projects. Teli now leads the virtual GO! Vote campaign, which is centered on “fostering civic awareness through Jesuit education.” 

As part of GO! Vote, Teli helped lead a 40-student Fordham delegation at the recent Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice. This three day event brought together people from all over the United States with keynote speakers and break-out discussions which looked at social justice issues and how the coronavirus has affected these issues. Some topics discussed were the death penalty, Black Lives Matter, the upcoming election and LGBTQ+ inclusivity in the Catholic Church. 

A wise comment made at the conference to “weigh your vote with the heavy heart of the suffering of many” stuck with Teli. She hopes to bring what she has learned from this conference back to Fordham and use these new insights to develop the GO! Vote digital advocacy campaign

Teli says meaningful change starts with education. “We need to dedicate intentional spaces for BIPOC to share stories. Honoring their voices once a month is just not enough.” 

Going forward, armed with her knowledge from the Ignatian Family Teach-In and her commitment to justice, Teli will continue to answer the ever looming question: “How do we build up a broken world?” At the moment, Teli aims to do this by creating intentional spaces and raising the voices of marginalized communities. This applies not just to the Fordham community, but to people all over the world.