Mariana Antonio-Serrano (SAA ’21) hit the ground running when she arrived at UW-Madison in the fall of 2021. Having been the Co-Chair for the St. Ambrose Academy Guardians for Life student club, Mariana came to the university with a passion for pro-life work and wanted to find ways to get involved.
Friend and fellow SAA alumna Maria Marsland connected Mariana with the outgoing president, a senior, who was looking for someone who could take on the organization as he was phasing out in preparation for graduation. It proved to be a timely transition as Antonio-Serrano could take up the mantle, becoming the acting president right away as a freshman who already possessed great experience and conviction.
The coronavirus caused the group to become less active, so Antonio-Serrano had a blank slate, of sorts, from which to start. “The outgoing president has been really helpful as a mentor, giving me a lot of tips on running an organization at the university, what kinds of activities happened before covid, and other helpful advice”, she said. “Right now, I’m focused on recruiting new members, getting a leadership board set up, and making the organization more active.”
With helpful support around her, including peers who are also engaged in the organization, Antonio-Serrano has also taken inspiration from her past experiences.
“Guardians for Life was a really great experience that I had at St. Ambrose and I loved it so much,” she shared. “I’m modeling what we’re setting up at Students for Life off of things that we did at St. Ambrose including volunteering at Pregnancy Helpline regularly, getting a group to attend the March for Life in D.C., forming a relationship with Biking for Babies, and of course being involved with 40 Days for Life.”
Antonio-Serrano’s future goals for the organization next year include finding more ways to support students on campus who are facing unplanned pregnancies. She wants “to be able to send these women to places that can help them and find more ways for Students for Life to be a gateway for students who don’t know where else to turn.”
Antonio-Serrano also credits her St. Ambrose academic formation with giving her a strong foundation for her university experiences, saying, “I think my religion classes really helped form me from a logical perspective about why life begins at conception and equipping me to defend my positions very well, becoming strong in my beliefs, and making me want to become active and get this organization up and running again.”
She continued, “there are other skills and tools, especially from my history and English classes, that I can see have helped me. I’m kind of a shy person naturally, but through things like taking part in Socratic discussions and making presentations, I have more confidence to speak up for what I believe, can learn how to manage a group, and I’m just really excited for what we’ll be able to do at UW-Madison. My hope is for other people to come to see the fullness of truth found in the pro-life message.”
Thank you, Mariana, for putting into practice your beliefs, helping lead and inspire others, and serving the most vulnerable among us! Go, Guardians!