Eddy Interview with M D’Alessandro

M D'Alessandro
M D'Alessandro

Eddy Interview by Jahda Williams, Visual Arts Major 
with M D’Alessandro, Graphic Design Major 
Fall 2021 

What personal experience or journey brought you into your current role at or connected with SUNY New Paltz? 

I was enrolled as a Syracuse University student before transferring to SUNY New Paltz. I had just graduated high school after spending my last months in school online. It was hard to see the last four years of my life accumulate to something as small as an online graduation. I didn’t feel ready for college, either. Although I was enrolled in Syracuse Uni, I knew my first year of college would be far from normal. I wanted that special, formative freshman year. So, I made the decision to take a break for a year. 

Over the course of that year, I took three classes from SUNY New Paltz online. I wanted to spend my time learning, if nothing else, and the online courses kept my focus on something positive. They were all creative writing and literature-based courses, which I loved. It made the long, long gap year feel a little less monotonous. And, because I met some professors that I loved (and the campus was closer to home) I decided to transfer out of Syracuse and into New Paltz. 

What issues or challenges are you confronted with? 

I think it’s challenging to know that, after taking a year off in the hopes of getting a “normal” freshman experience, I’ve come to campus and realized that nothing is normal. Things have changed — some of my friends who are sophomores and juniors have told me all about how isolating living on campus was last year, but COVID-19 is still a major issue, and it still impacts our day to day lives. I haven’t been able to have the typical college freshman experience I hoped for, but I’ve been able to make it work for me. 

Why do these challenges exist? 

I think it would be unfair to blame anyone for COVID still being a threat. My case, in which I haven’t had a “normal” college experience, is a shared one. Almost all college students are facing the same thing right now. But that just emphasizes the need to be careful. 

What challenges exist in the larger system? 

I think the American value of individualism is a part of why COVID is still a big as it is. The need to feel special, and prioritize our wants over other people’s needs, is dangerous. Putting other people’s health and safety before our own comfort is essential. Selflessness and kindness are vital right now, as it’s always been. 

What are your most important sources of success and change? 

Honestly, spending time alone is the most blissful thing I can do. I’ve recently found that spending a few hours outside with a cup of coffee, maybe reading or writing, is the best way for me to feel safe. It helps me refocus before I have to go back to academics or social events. 

What would a better (university or community) system look like for you? 

I recently had a problem with my chosen name. I go by M, and some of my professors weren’t calling me that, even though I told them in person what I preferred to be called. I was fine with reminding them, but it made me consider filling out a Chosen Name Form. When I submitted that, Records & Registration said that my chosen name was actually just an initial, and that I had to fill out the form with my ‘actual’ chosen name. In my experience, most of the students and faculty are amazing with respecting pronouns and chosen names. Only a few have disrespected it. Even then, I know I’m not the only one who has interacted with those few people, and I’m sure they’re not the only ones doing it. I feel like that needs to be spoken about. 

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