September 2018


Fall of 2018, the month that changed my life and my mindset.

But before we get to that point of the story let’s backtrack to four months before that. I was finishing my first year at my local community college where I had impressed myself and everyone around me. I finished the year with a 3.1 GPA after almost flunking out of high school two years prior. After one year at a community college I felt unstoppable, I felt like I proved everyone wrong after being a special education student in high school with an IEP that almost flunked out. I felt like nothing could stop me, but I may have gotten a little too cocky.

In May, after my first full year of college, I decided I wanted to transfer out a year early without getting my associate’s. I had options and that summer I started to look for a new university to attend. That summer wasn’t just about me searching for my next school oh no… it was the most fun summer I’ve ever had. That was probably the last summer that all of my best friends were all home at once and we partied every single night it was a blast.

I remember that summer being the last summer that I would be underage I was 20 years old so I still couldn’t buy alcohol. I remember every Friday and Saturday night at around 10 PM we would go down to our local mini-mart and the same guy would be working there every night. I’ll refer to him as “Tom” because I don’t want to reveal his real name. Tom knew me and my friends were underage but he still sold us alcohol anyway. He would always tell us: “don’t drink and drive.” He wasn’t just saying that because he wanted us to be safe but also to cover himself in case something did happen. If you’re wondering what Tom looked like he was a middle-aged Hispanic guy with long dark hair and he would always wear this button-up shirt that car mechanics usually wear with his nametag on the right side of the shirt.

It’s strange because later that October I went into that mini-mart late at night to pay for gas and he wasn’t there. I asked the person that worked there if Tom was still an employee and the guy would just shout at me “He’s no longer here.” My sister and I think that either they found out he sold alcohol to underage kids and he got fired or maybe he just bounced I don’t know we didn’t know too much about him just that he sold us alcohol at the time and we didn’t really care. That is a mystery that will never be solved and since that summer we still haven’t seen him.

Before that summer I wasn’t much of a partier but we did something every night. We would be up till the crack of dawn every weekend I don’t even know why because looking back at it, it was unnecessary to stay up that late every weekend but I don’t regret it one damn bit our parties were fun as hell. We would start partying at around 11 PM, go on a McDonald’s run at around 2 AM, go back to the house, eat then continue with the night. It was great especially for me who didn’t dorm away to college so I missed out on the usual college life.

As August 1st rolled around I started to think about going back to school. Every summer when the first day of August hits I start to feel like the summer is about to end. I kind of hate the month of August because it’s the last month of summer break and I know that in a few weeks I will be back on the school and work grind. But this time I would be going to my new school so I was actually excited and looking forward to a new beginning. The college was Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Connecticut.

I still don’t know to this day why I chose to commute all the way to Danbury from Mahopac, New York. I visited the campus back in April. I liked the campus but even after visiting the campus in April and knowing at the time that I was most likely going to go there it still didn’t feel like the right fit. But 20-year-old Alex wanted to rush the process of life and one big lesson I learned during this journey was that you can’t rush God’s plan. Even later that August when I went there to schedule my classes a week before the semester started it still didn’t feel 100 percent right to me.

Honestly, you know why I rushed the process and I haven’t told many people this but I saw all of my other friends thriving at their colleges, and when I saw them thriving I thought to myself that community college wasn’t good enough and I had to go to a big four-year school right away I was insecure and had the wrong mindset. So when the semester started I was there for two weeks tops and I tried to fit in. I tried joining the school’s radio station, they even wanted me to help with play-by-play for WestConn’s football team and I love football so that would’ve been an amazing opportunity.

But it still did not feel right to me to be there at that school. I remember after the second week of classes I went home and I was home alone my parents were out of town for the weekend. All I remember was watching the opening Thursday night football game in my room, it was the Atlanta Falcons and the Philadelphia Eagles who were the defending Champs that year and in the middle of that game, I just started to cry my eyes out because I knew I made the wrong decision at the time and I felt like I was going to be stuck there for the next three years. I did not want to continue to go there. I wasn’t feeling the energy at that school and also I don’t like the state of Connecticut. I don’t know why but I don’t. I’m a true blue New Yorker. I wouldn’t mind moving to Jersey but I don’t like Connecticut.

A week later I told my parents I could no longer go to Western Connecticut. My mom was angry because she did tell me before I set up my classes that I should have stayed at the Community college and finished my associate’s degree then transfer out. I fell into a deep depression for the next month and a half.

I honestly didn’t know if I wanted to go back to school and I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. I was depressed because I was confused. In that month and a half span, I would wake up every day at around 2 o’clock in the afternoon. The only thing I would eat is a bowl of Special K cereal when I woke up and that was it. I would not leave my room all day and only leave to go to the bathroom. I barely ate or drank any water. I had a job at the time but I called out sick for a whole week without pay because I didn’t want to leave my house. I also hated my job so that was another reason why I didn’t want to show up to work at the time.

It was literally the darkest feeling I have ever felt it was so dark to the point where I thought about suicide and just ending it all.

I was unhappy not just because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my future but I felt worthless and I felt like I was alone. Social media did not help at all, during my darkest hours I saw my friends living their best lives in college while I was stuck in my small boring town. Don’t get me wrong I was happy for my friends but it just made me feel even worse about myself.

It took a month or two to get back out there. I finally decided to go back to my previous community college to finish my associate’s degree and try to transfer out again afterward. It was the best decision I made in my life. My grades kept getting better and I got an internship at a news station later that spring all while going to therapy at the same time. I was still struggling with my mental health and I’m still struggling with it now but not as bad. One thing I have learned though is how to contain it better. I’ve come a long way in such a short time in the mental health department.

I finally graduated with my 2-year degree in December 2019. It was that time again to look for another school to transfer to. My GPA was above a 3.0 so I had options, the three schools that were atop of my list were Pace University, Seton Hall, and Mercy College. I wanted to go somewhere that I would enjoy my time there but close enough to where I could commute because I felt like the hype of dorming away wore off on me and I was already used to the routine I had plus it would save me a boatload of money on my student debt.

I toured all three, I checked Seton Hall off the list right away even knowing it was a really nice campus and had a good program but I didn’t want to dorm and the school is in New Jersey. So it came down to Pace University and Mercy College, Pace was nice and had a good program and was really close to home however when I visited Mercy I felt positive vibes.

I remember when I pulled up to Mercy’s campus in Dobbs Ferry for the first time. I actually set up a personal tour with Professor Louis Grasso who is the head of the media studies department and who I now work for. I didn’t want to do one of those annoying tours of the campus where some Junior volunteers to show you the campus and you walk around the campus in a single filed line like a bunch of idiots. I wanted to get a look at the department I was majoring in and meet the professors I’d be working with and pick their brains.

Professor Grasso showed me around the media suite where he teaches all the radio and TV production classes but Lou knew I wanted to do journalism after I told him over the phone I wanted to be a writer. So then he introduced me to Professor Michael Perrota who taught all the Journalism classes at Mercy. We sat down and we talked about my goals and aspirations. As an aspiring writer, he told me what the program meant to him, and then lastly he showed me all the New York press association awards The Impact has won over the years. They won an award every year since he became the advisor of the paper and after that sit down with him and Lou I knew that I was going to attend Mercy College that upcoming December.

My conversation with Perrota ended by him telling me if you come here and write for the Impact you won’t regret it then kicked me out of his office because he had to eat lunch. But I will say I haven’t regretted my decision once since coming to Mercy and I felt like I finally made not just the smart choice but the right one. I truly believe everything happens for a reason in life.