I really learned that I love to give back when I was at Fitchburg State. It stuck with me, and I’ve continued giving back in my hometown. Fitchburg State University really changed my life.
Stephany Infante ‘16 said it was the encouragement of others that led her to seeking public office.
As a student at Greater Lawrence Technical High School, Infante served on the student council and enjoyed the experience. When she was approached about serving as the student representative to the district’s school committee, she was taken aback.
“I didn’t even know what the school committee was,” she recalled. “I got on the committee as a junior in high school, and I loved it.”
Infante said it was eye-opening to be part of the decision-making process for her school, but was a bit reluctant to pursue student government when she got to Fitchburg State in 2012 to begin studying business administration with a concentration in marketing.
She credits her friend Alexandra Valdez ‘15 for giving her the needed push to engage. “Until then, all I did was go to class and then go to my room,” Infante said. “She pushed me to join SGA and it gave me a purpose beyond the classroom.”
It was a purpose Infante embraced, forging tight friendships with her members of student government. “It gave me a voice,” she said. “My mom always says I was a quiet girl. I personally developed through SGA, as I had to be a voice for the student body. The best thing was it helped me grow as a person.”
Her growth continued when she was elected student representative to the university Board of Trustees. While she sensed a raised profile on campus with that role, and noted a change in how she was regarded by her professors. But she did not want to coast on privilege, and instead went about working even harder in her classes, to show she was serious about her role and her work.
After she graduated from Fitchburg State, Infante found she could not shake the political bug. She was inspired to seek a seat on the Greater Lawrence Technical School Committee, winning a competitive race after starting as a write-in candidate. She was proud to be the first Latina to be elected to that board.
Her father could see the passion she brought to elected office, Infante said. “He used to say, ‘Why don’t you run for City Council? Lawrence needs someone like you.’” When he died last June, Infante was devastated. A seat on the council opened up soon thereafter, however, and Infante decided she had to pursue the opportunity.
"I did it to give back and help my community, but I had to do it for my dad too," she said.
She hustled through months of campaigning and was elected last fall to the District E seat on the council, and took office in January. She hit the ground running and has already taken pride in the constituent service she has been able to accomplish.
“I really learned that I love to give back when I was at Fitchburg State,” she said. “It stuck with me, and I’ve continued giving back in my hometown. Fitchburg State University really changed my life.”
This story was originally published in the Spring 2022 edition of Contact magazine.