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Friday, October 15, 2021

Philanthropist, PA Second Lady, shares experience of immigration with Penn State DuBois students

Gisele Fetterman spoke to Penn State DuBois students via Zoom about issues faced by Latino families in the Unites States.

DuBOIS, PA – Students in the Penn State DuBois Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) program had a unique opportunity on October 12, when Pennsylvania’s Second Lady Gisele Fetterman paid them a virtual visit via Zoom.  

Having immigrated to the United States from Brazil when she was seven years old, Fetterman is an activist for immigration reform and was an ideal guest in this class, HDFS 397: Latino/a Families, a special topics course addressing unique issues faced by Latino families in the US.

“The goal is to expose students to the research we have specific to Latino populations,” said Assistant Professor in HDFS Dr. Sarah Pierotti. “It’s vital because that population is growing, and a big part of our job in the HDFS major is to teach students to work with all members of the community and to help provide solutions to social issues for all members of the population.”

The wife of Lieutenant-Governor John Fetterman, Gisele Fetterman has pursued her passion for helping others through endeavors such as founding the Free Store in Braddock, PA, a non-profit that provides low-income families with clothing, furniture, household items, baby care supplies, toys, and more. In 2015 she co-founded 412 Food Rescue providing food to families in need. The non-profit redistributed 2.5 million pounds of food in its first two years.

Fetterman continues to appeal to the United States Congress for immigration reform, inspired by her own early experiences as an immigrant. She shared many of these experiences with HDFS 397 students to help them better understand the issues they are studying related to Latino families, and the struggles these families go through as they begin lives in a new country.

“I talk to so many folks who are against immigration, and I ask them, ‘What would you do if your children were in danger? What would you do for them?’” Fetterman said.
She shared that dangerous conditions in her home of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil forced her mother to make a hard decision to relocate her young family. She said, “The boiling point for my mother was when she was having dinner with my aunt.  My aunt said she had only been robbed seven times that year. It wasn’t the number that struck her, but the acceptance.  She didn’t want my brother and I to grow accepting that as normal.”

With the safety of her children the top priority, Fetterman’s mother, a Ph.D. level nutritionist for hospitals in Rio, moved her family to Queens, New York.  Unable to transfer her degrees in order to find similar employment in the US, she became a domestic worker.

“She ran hospitals, had a great career, and immediately overnight she’s now a domestic worker, cleaning hotels and homes, and she never looked back. She said she would clean toilets for the rest of her life knowing that we’re safe.  It’s not for everyone. It’s not an easy path.”

Fetterman herself struggled as a child to acclimate to life in the US. Speaking no English when she arrived in Queens, she attended public school, adapting to her new home by any means possible.

“Mr. Rogers taught me English,” Fetterman recalled. “I watched him with Closed Captioning on, and I recommend him for anyone learning English – his delivery, his speech is so great. Reading the words and hearing him say it really helped me learn.”

Relating these personal accounts is one way in which Fetterman hopes to help close social divides and create understanding by helping people to realize the struggles others have endured. “No one learns by being shamed,” she said. “Growth happens through conversation.  You can’t hate someone you don’t know – I can’t accept that.”

Pierotti said these messages will go far in helping her students to relate to the individuals they’ll work with in their careers as social workers, counselors, behavioral specialists, and more. She was grateful that Fetterman was willing to make time for the class, recalling, “It never hurts to send an email.  I reached out and asked if she would be willing.  She wrote right back and said she would be honored to.”

Fetterman told the students, “I think any work that helps make the world smaller is important, and that’s some of what you’re doing here.”

Pierotti created the Latino/a Families HDFS course from scratch, and it is currently offered exclusively at Penn State DuBois.  She is currently working on curriculum for a Latino Studies Minor that she hopes will be offered at other campus locations as well as DuBois.


Anonymous said...

You mean they screwed up their country now they want to screw ours up?

Anonymous said...

I fully support legal immigration. This country is built on it.

Most immigrants work very hard and build small businesses to develop economic stability given they start with nothing or close to it. They have no choice because they want better for themselves and their children - does that sound like your ancestors?

We need more like her here to fill in the gaps for those that are here are leaving in our economy. Do you know Chobani yogurt? Billion $ company started by an immigrant from Turkey.

Get off your anti-immigrant stance - they help the economy and do the jobs you don't want to do and start the businesses you aren't starting, just like your forefathers did.

Anonymous said...

Re: 1:29 PM

Big difference between LEGAL and ILLEGAL immigration. We can't take care of our own poor citizens and Legal Immigrants now. There were over 50 Million illegals in the USA prior to the pandemic, according to Numbers USA.

Now, biden's no border policy is exacerbating the problem. A country must have defined borders to exist as a country.

Illegal immigration is illegal and unfair to the American taxpayers, legal immigrants, and those who have played by the rules and wait to enter the
USA legally.

Any other country invadedby millions of people would have secured their borders and declared war.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

Billions of stimulus tax payers money was sent to Mexico and many other country's by illegals.Billions lost to other country's from unemployment fraud. Companies will have to cover that. What a mess.Lets go Brandon.

Anonymous said...

The administration says the immigrants are coming here to work . There are currently 11 million job openings in the US yet all they do is come here and get on welfare ! Free health care and free education !

Anonymous said...

Almost all are coming here for a better life - jobs, food, escape oppression, less violence and crime - they are NOT coming here for free stuff.

Don't be a sheep and allow yourself to be brainwashed about immigrants getting free stuff. That's not why they will do anything - including hang onto an AirForce Cargo jet as it's taking off and then fall to their death - to get here.

They want a better life, and for the most part, you are not paying for it. Immigrants are building our country while you injest lies and repeat them, and are distracted from the real problems -- Ballooning National Debt, inflation, declining education performance, etc.

Anonymous said...

2:30, the stimulus checks were based on Fed Income Tax roles. If you didn't have a Fed tax record, then no check. So only the immigrants that filed taxes would have gotten checks.

2:37, how many illegal immigrants do you personally know that are on welfare? I would suspect you know none. I also suspect you do know a few 'citizens' that are.

Anonymous said...

Re: 3:47 PM

An Illegal immigrant can cost Taxpayers $1 Million during their lifetime. Their low income(if they work) calculated with the number of children they have makes them eligible for many welfare benefits including health care, food debit card, and subsidized housing. Net loss to country & taxpayers.

Remember, every immigrant can legally "invite" all their relatives to the United States. Those relatives can invite their relatives; on and on.

It's called "Chain Migration".

Anonymous said...

I guess it was obvious that this story was going to trigger all the racists and xenophobes. Don’t worry, slack jawed white people of POCO, the scary brown people aren’t coming to get you…they’re not interested in this dying jerk water county.

Anonymous said...

And the winner of the Cher look-a-like contest is.... Drum roll please.

Anonymous said...

halt all immigration and rebuild our walls until the illegals are are all deported without goodbyes given they are criminals bringing diseases, drugs,illegal drugs

Anonymous said...

1:29 they build small businesses with a money from the federal government

Anonymous said...

What a bunch of misguided people. I suspect that the majority of people posting do not even know an illegal immigrant much less are able to judge their character. BTW, stimulus checks were based on IRS tax records so, if no tax filing, then no check. I also suspect that most people posting know more 'citizens' on welfare than immigrants. The God that you profess must be so proud.

Anonymous said...

7:18 since they don t want to die here why don t you leave poco and not come back because we are all slack jawed hicks

Anonymous said...

Re: 7:18PM

Wanting existing laws to be followed and borders to be respected does not make one a racist or a xenophobe.

Anonymous said...

11:17, I cant respond to your post, because it makes no sense.

1:25, I respect your concern for the law. That said, how do you feel about the 800,000 immigrants that have crossed our borders and are currently living, working and consuming our resources? Im referring to the Canadian immigrants that no one ever seems to be concerned with. Nonetheless, they are here. Should we round them up and send them back to wherever they came from??

Anonymous said...

10.18 yes round them up if they are sneaky illegals.

Anonymous said...

Re: 10:18AM

I'm 1:25PM Are You talking about legal Canadians that have legally entered the united states and have green cards?? No problem with any law abiding legal immigrant from any country. I am specifically addressing illegals who knowingly break the law and cross our borders; some with evil intent. Legal immigrants who are not planning to harm our citizens are always welcome. There is a process for legal immigration. Mass streaming of illegals is not fair to those who follow the rules and wait to come legally. It is not fair to the taxpayers and IS against the law. We also have plenty of needy, poor, citizens and legal immigrants. A country without enforced borders is not a country and ultimately will become a third world country.

Anonymous said...

1:15, Ok, that clears it up. You weren’t referring to the “good” immigrants, with good intentions, coming from the north…you meant the “bad” immigrants, with the bad intentions, coming from the south. I guess you just know that the good ones from the north are obviously following the rules, and they’re not just freely driving over the border in their SUV’s. It’s obviously those bad ones who are “sneaking” over the southern borders, to try to save their families, enough to risk everything, who aren’t following the rules. I guess we can just safely assume that the white, I mean, the “good” immigrants are doing the right thing, and obviously it’s those brown, I mean, “bad” immigrants that are the problem. Ok, great…it all makes sense now. Thanks! Stay vigilant!😁👍
Oh, side note; I’ve been to “3rd world countries” and I’ve driven around POCO…and I think I have some bad news for you.😬

Anonymous said...

Re: 2:05PM

I specifically stated, "No problem with any law abiding legal immigrant from any country."

"Bad immigrants" and "bad brown" are solely your racist rants and not used or thought by me. You inject your personal feelings towards an ethnic group into a rational, solely legal, discussion.

You, can only defend your position by trying to label anyone that wants existing national laws enforced as a racist. Very lame and typical leftist attempting to defend the indefensible without accurate, factual, arguments. Make everything racist to define any dissenting voices.

Anonymous said...

All the same,GOD just left some in the oven longer.

Anonymous said...

Re: 5:03

And evidently that bothers you and not the people who believe in the rule of law....

2:05 said...

3:26, oh yeah! You’re one of the smart ones! A real outlier round these parts. Touché

5:03, you, on the other hand, are definitely not one of the aforementioned outliers.