Alyssa Lowell MSW EMT-B
Class of 2014
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE SIENA COLLEGE?
I was looking for a relatively small school about three hours from home that offered a Social Work major and study abroad. My parents actually preferred Siena, while I was certain about Iona. However, when it came time to make a decision, Siena was the place for me because of the strong Franciscan values and warmth of the community.
WHY SOCIAL WORK?
When I was planning for college, a mentor steered me toward social work because of my involvement in social justice programs in high school and my original plan to seek a degree in sociology. At that time I hadn't really been aware a social work degree was an option but I loved sociology, psychology, and service to others so it was a perfect direction for me to explore and grow.
WHAT WAS YOUR MOST MEANINGFUL EXPERIENCE AT SIENA?
Siena allowed for many meaningful experiences. Participating in Lobby Day and policy class in general, were big for me. The opportunities to analyze policy, consider intended and unintended impacts on various groups, and develop messaging to appeal to different audiences were easily some of the most impactful experiences for me. Senior year, I interned with Rensselaer County Juvenile Probation and the previous summer I was granted a position as a Summer Legal Fellow at Touro College on Long Island. Those two experiences allowed me to learn more about criminal justice and law, as well as working with different populations in different settings. I was also able to study abroad in Central America with the semester split between time in Guatemala, El Salvador, and Nicaragua, and participated in travel course to Mexico with Profesora Malloy-Madrid. Both of those journeys improved my Spanish, cultural awareness and exposure to different kinds of organizations, and prepared me to participate in a travel course during grad school to study social innovation with university students in Chile. Last, I was a peer advisor for two years working under Camille Girardi- Levy which is what sparked my interest in my current role in higher ed.
WHAT IS YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
In my full time role, I'm an Academic Advisor at Excelsior University and I work primarily with military and Veteran students who are pursing college at a distance. I appreciate the greater accessibility to higher education that schools like Excelsior provide students in different places and life stages. In addition, I'm an Emergency Medical Technician with my county and Deputy Mayor & Trustee for my village. All three roles allow me to apply different aspects of my social work background!
IN WHAT WAYS DID SIENA PREPARE YOU FOR LIFE AND WORK AFTER COLLEGE?
I cannot say enough about my professors at Siena and all they've helped me learn about myself, the world, and the social work profession. Beyond the rich classroom knowledge, the opportunities to study abroad and the experiential learning with in the social work program helped shape me and inspire the ideas of what life and work could look like after college. My junior year at Siena, Donna McIntosh opened my eyes to macro practice which felt like a much more natural fit for me within social work and gave me a better focus as I move forward. After Siena, I completed my MSW in macro practice and began a career in nonprofit management, leading healthy child development programs at the United Way and collaborating with local, state and national organizations. In pursuit of different kind of life balance I later returned to the capital region and am currently working in higher education. In one way or another, all of the experience and support from Siena helped me prepare for the different steps I have taken since graduation and I am very grateful.