Some people point to problems, keeping difficult issues at arm's length while lamenting that "someone should do something about that."
Others, like Alana Fisher '24, roll up their sleeves and work toward a solution themselves.
The sociology major from Baltimore says she chose Bucknell because she wants to go beyond just studying racism, police brutality and anti-Semitism. She wants to do something about those pernicious problems.
In high school, Fisher marched on the Baltimore streets, planned a teen summit focused on police reform and participated in a nine-month social justice fellowship named after U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the Baltimore-born civil rights advocate who died in 2019.
Fisher says she's been heartened by the overdue attention being paid to racial inequality — an awareness made public through Black Lives Matter protests.
"It's really cool that every single state in the United States had protests," she says, "but there's more work to do."
That means advocating for systemic change even when #BlackLivesMatter stops trending. It means not necessarily having all the answers but asking the right questions.
Fisher says she chose Bucknell over a large state school closer to home because of Bucknell's small classes, closer connections with professors and opportunities to work toward genuine change.
While she identified sociology as her intended major early in the process, Fisher was intrigued by the wide range of minors available to her. One in particular stood out: peace studies, where students learn to promote a more just and peaceful world through courses like International Law, the Philosophy of Peace & Nonviolence and Conflict Resolution.
"I haven't seen any other schools have that minor in peace studies," she says. "I just knew it was a good fit."
While she was browsing Bucknell's course catalog, the anticipation continued to build. The course names and descriptions seemed to speak to her passions: Art of Protest, Philosophy of Laughter, and Race, Violence & Incarceration.
"Some of the classes are so cool," she says. "I'm just excited to take classes with professors who are so passionate about what they do."
Fisher's road to Bucknell wasn't easy. She lost her dad to brain cancer when she was 11. During her dad's fight against the deadly disease, Fisher's parents co-founded a nonprofit organization called Keep Punching that's helping to search for a cure.
The fight against cancer, both literal and societal, has no clear finish line in sight. But each hour spent volunteering, marching, researching and advocating gets us one step closer to the goal.
Looking back, Fisher believes that watching her parents volunteer their time to help others inspired her own commitment to serve.
"I've always been volunteering," she says. "It's always been part of me."
As a Presidential Fellow at Bucknell, Fisher will embark on "a hands-on project that will help me learn how to help other people," she says. After graduation, she hopes to work for a nonprofit advocacy group like the American Civil Liberties Union.
Fisher admits that fighting for equality isn't a path toward fortune or fame. But that's never been the goal.
"The money really doesn't matter," she says. "If you're not happy doing something, it's really just not worth doing."