“I think our world has changed a lot, especially in the last ten years,” says Liv Atkocaitis ’25. “LGBTQIA, race, religion, and so many other things are now being embraced, and there’s some backlash. I see myself as an advocate for the new generation.”
Atkocaitis has brought considerable life experience to the PSU campus, where she’s a psychology major with a focus in mental health. She’s working to complete her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in five years instead of the traditional six. A foster kid who grew up in several New Hampshire communities, she became a “youth voice” for the Division of Children, Youth, and Families while in high school and was the main speaker for its Youth Summer program. She also served as a New England Youth Coalition ambassador, working with current and former foster youth and adult supporters to better the quality of life for youth involved with the foster care system.
“I very humbly bring a very broad level of experience of both trauma and growth,” says Atkocaitis. “These are things that I’ve worked on and a platform that I’ve grown into. I hope to be the first generation in my family to graduate college.”
As a first-year student, Atkocaitis was quick to pick up on Plymouth State traditions like First Fire in the HUB and pumpkins atop Rounds Hall. “I also saw that if you want to do something that isn’t already here you can bring it in,” she says. “And if you have goals, you’ll have a connection through PSU, which has connections to other organizations and to the state.”
Atkocaitis is a college ambassador for the Choose Love Movement, which was prompted by the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting in 2012. The movement aims to support the mental health needs of educators, students, families, and communities-at-large. Choose Love’s founder, Scarlett Lewis, will make her second visit to PSU on Saturday, September 24, keynoting a daylong public program of free, family-friendly activities.
“Simply put, Liv has been integral in bringing the Choose Love Movement ethos to our campus,” says Director of Student Life and Community Impact Jessica Dutille ’03, ’04MBA, ’20EdD. “She also serves as a building manager for the HUB and is an orientation leader for PSU’s New Student Experience.”
In her role of PSU community impact ambassador, Atkocaitis has helped facilitate annual events including the Angel Tree Project, Community Clean-up, and Project Linus.
“PSU offers a lot of ‘adulting,’” Atkocaitis says. “It’s your responsibility to make things happen, and Plymouth puts that in the most transitional, calming way possible.” She notes that the University provides a conducive environment for personal growth through its mental health and leadership skills programs, among others.
“The great thing about living on campus is that PSU really is a school where we learn what our goal and our mission are, and here’s how we can advance them,” Atkocaitis says. The attitude is, ‘If you have an idea bring it to us.’ PSU is very open community and not a campus that is set in stone.
“I feel like Plymouth almost seeks out students’ potential and embraces it,” she says. “There are many opportunities to grow here.”