Whether in sidewalk chalk or media headlines, SESP senior Alessio Manti has made his mark on campus. From running in the 2009 ASG presidential campaign to hosting recent protests like Tea Party to Occupy the Rock and In.Tent.City., Manti demonstrates the power of a positive attitude in promoting change, even when the going gets tough.
“One of my life mantras is ‘screw it, why not do it,'” Manti said. “If it seems like there isn’t a good answer to that question, then I will trust my instinct and follow it more or less where it leads me.”
Unlike other students who might take this phrase and use it for mischief, Manti has focused his efforts on finding ways to improve life for his community.
“I feel that every person has an obligation to give to their community if they expect to receive,” Manti said. “If we pour love and care and attention into our communities and surroundings, our nation will prosper. If we choose to remain bitterly divided and apathetic, we’re proverbially S.O.L.”
This philosophy shows through in his numerous academic, philanthropic and social efforts on campus, according to students.
Though the list is staggering, some of these endeavors include the founding and managing of student services such as MyCat Enterprises, LLC and the Deuce Caboose, involvement in student government and local group protests, as well as the development of a new internship program in his fraternity.
When asked what drives his seemingly endless pattern of activism and innovation, his response was simple – how could you not do it? Despite this simplistic approach, Manti recognizes that progress cannot always be achieved by just going with the flow, as frequent obstacles hinder advancement on all levels. According to him, these challenges are all part of the process of achievement.
“If you’re willing to make mistakes and to humble yourself enough to learn from an experience, working outside of your comfort zone will lead you to extraordinary places,” Manti said.
In his personal life, Manti has experienced first hand how difficulties have the potential to lead to rewarding experiences – describing his parents’ divorce as one main factor leading to his ambitious attitude and desire to reconcile differences for the betterment of the community.
“Seeing my parents argue taught me that two people genuinely and with all sincerity come to completely different and mutually exclusive conclusions about the same set of facts. Their perspectives on things were wildly different, and I was forced to always navigate between that rocky terrain,” Manti said. “In doing so I was taught how to handle conflict management, how to find common ground with people, and above all, how to stand my life and defend myself.”
These skills seem to have paid off for Manti, leading him to be acknowledged as one of the Top 10 Most Influential Students at Northwestern as a sophomore and continuously recognized for his efforts since.
“Alessio is a well-dressed, good-hearted and very boisterous Italian man who’s extremely passionate about things he sees as important,” said Manti’s pledge son, Weinberg sophomore Andrew Walker.
Walker also described him as hard working and impossible to describe in three words because of his complex character.
Though his experiences and ambitions at Northwestern seem larger than life in comparison to the average student, Manti’s ultimate goal for his peers is much smaller in scale.
“Put down your phones, your iPods and your laptops. Go outside. Meet people. Smile. Shake hands,” Manti said. “If we focus our communities back to the individual level – to the people-to-people interaction that guide us every day – we can be reminded of what it means to be human again.”
– Alyssa Mercado