The Class of 2021 graduates are all about the business of breaking barriers, challenging norms, and disrupting old ways of doing things. We salute their success and are proud to share a few of their stories.
Savannah Ruotola ’21, a marketing major, knows what it means to put the Mercy core values into action—especially compassion—even before graduation. She and her siblings are triplets, and both her brother and sister have autism. Helping the world better understand the autism spectrum and how families thrive in the face of related challenges was the focus of an Instagram campaign she launched in April 2021.
The effort, part of Savannah’s GEN400 service-learning requirement, introduced the world to @TripsAutismAwareness. The social media series of posts, pictures, and infographics were created for sharing beyond Autism Awareness Month.
“Most people put up the blue light bulbs and wear the ribbon, but they’re not really looking into it all that much,” says Savannah, who is also a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council in the School of Business and Digital Media.
A Different Way of Thinking
Most projects for GEN400 involve going out to the community and giving back by volunteering, but the global pandemic made it almost impossible to do so. At first, Savannah was unsure what she was going to do for her project but was eventually inspired by her brother and sister. As triplets, she and her siblings would often be referred to as the “trips,” which is why she titled her project “Trips Autism Awareness.”
Opening Up for a Cause
Her project also represented a leap of faith, as she opened up her personal life for a very public cause.
“I decided to harness the power of social media. It’s something I tend to keep a little bit more private, but I’m ready to introduce everybody to my family, my life, and so on.”
“I hope to inspire people by sharing a piece of myself and sharing my family with everybody,” adds Savannah. “I want to inspire them to maybe get involved with different organizations and learn a little bit more about autism that they may not have known before.”
Story contributed by Georgian Court University digital communication major Alycia Bardon ’22. Photo by Russ DeSantis.