Majors: Political Science and Journalism
Graduation Year: 2013
Hometown: Staten Island, N.Y.
Scholarships/awards: Cetrino Family Scholarship recipient
Occupation: Social Media Associate, HQ Creative
Why did you decide to enroll at New Paltz?
I discovered New Paltz as I was visiting colleges my junior year of high school. My family and I were trying to visit as many SUNY schools as possible. My mother liked that New Paltz was affordable and not too far from our home on Staten Island. I decided to enroll because I visited New Paltz twice and it had a great secondary education program, and at the time, I was hoping to become a high school Spanish teacher. But, during my first semester, I realized that I have a passion for news and politics.
At most colleges, you’ll find the same editorial and advocacy opportunities. But New Paltz provides a sense of community for its students. When I look back at my experience, I think about how the faculty, students, and friends of the school made this a home for me. I not only studied here, but I learned a lot about myself and my values when it comes to social issues I’m passionate about.
What opportunities did the Global Engagement Program provide for you?
The Global Engagement Program was an opportunity for me to enroll in two classes in New York City and participate in an internship program for students who are interested in learning about the global challenges we currently face. As a participant, I interned with the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC), an LGBT human rights organization dedicated to ending violence and discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity and/or gender expression. I can honestly say that this semester was my favorite as a SUNY New Paltz student. I attended conferences, discussed human rights issues with my colleagues, networked with professionals, created my own multimedia pieces for my internship, and learned about human rights advocacy from a non-governmental organization which is continuing to make an impact to end such human rights violations around the world. Because of this experience, I realized that I want to pursue employment opportunities that make some form of impact, both nationally and internationally.
How have you benefited from the Honors Program?
I participated in many programs and organizations on campus throughout my three-and-a-half years as a SUNY New Paltz student, but I always felt that the Honors Program was a place I called home. I consider most of them as part of my family, and Honors Program Director Patricia Sullivan as a maternal figure. The Honors Program gave an opportunity for students, like me, to take interdisciplinary classes that weren’t available in our majors or minors. I didn’t have to just take classes in reporting or policy – I could take classes in evolutionary studies, education and anthropology. The Honors Program wasn’t just an opportunity for “intelligent” students, but an experience for those who wanted more out of their education, and that’s what I got out of it. I also benefited from volunteer opportunities, where I spent time with many students and learned about their goals/achievements. And there are also the obvious perks of being in the Honors Program: early class registration, study rooms, smaller classes and access to computers. However, I think that most students would agree with me when I say those are just additional perks, because the real benefit of the Honors Program was to experience an opportunity that most students couldn’t afford as a student at SUNY New Paltz.
What are your plans for the future?
I hope to pursue a communications career with a non-governmental organization or non-for-profit. I freelance for IGLHRC as video editing consultant, and I also am a web producer for AlleyWire, a video-centered media outlet that reports on innovative emerging brands and founders in New York. In addition, I am also a writer for NationSwell, a digital media company that highlights organizations and people creating an impact within their communities and pushing America forward. As I take on more freelance opportunities, I’ll continue to search for full-time employment. I also hope to publish a novel before the age of 30.
What will you miss most about New Paltz?
The faculty and students. I learned a lot from many of my professors and peers, and not just in the sense of academia, but in the sense of learning about who I am and who I wanted to become. Many of them have pushed me to succeed and participate in experiences that will not only benefit me, but benefit those around me.