Elijah McDonald 

Class of 2021

Poughkeepsie NY 


There are two reasons why I chose Siena First, one of my best friends decided to go. As a new graduate from community college and only being 18, I was feeling overwhelmed about where to transfer. Second, I knew I wanted something small, not big like a SUNY and felt like home. While attending the college fair, I meet Jen Salon, who is a part of the admissions team at Siena College. What she said sold me- Siena has smaller classes and I am going to feel part of a community. Ever since that conversation, I knew I was going to attend Siena and I was determined to make it happen. 


Funny Story- Initially when I transferred into Siena, I declared as a Psychology major. I was enrolled in research methods, made it through one class. I ended up dropping and witched my major. I didn't know what it was but for some reason I knew that Psychology was not what I wanted to do.  Thankfully there was still a seat open in Peter Lacey's Social work elective class, and through his class, I knew I wanted to do Social work. Overall, I knew I wanted to help make a change in the work and my communities no matter how big or small. With a background in Social work I felt equipped to achieve anything. 


My most meaningful experience at Siena was having the endless opportunity to be involved on campus. Thanks to Siena, I have seriously made lifelong connections with people I now consider friends and family. Though many people around me assume I'm extroverted, it was not until I started making friends and building connections, did I find confidence to be a leader and advocate for change. I knew I was capitalizing on my  leadership skills  when I was participating in leadership positions. Some include,  being an active co-chair of our Student Conduct Review Board,  vice president of the Black Student Union,  and serving as a  "big: for our Mentoring Program. I assisted with the creation and the implementation of the microaggression training taught through Damietta Cross Cultural Center. I also had the opportunity to be a health and wellness leader with the Office of Health Promotion as well as serve as a Siena Ambassador. Lastly, I organized and participated in protests that advocated to keep fundamental positions on campus. If it was not for building relationships with faculty like Brother George and Kate Kaufman Burns and creating memories with my friends Tati and Hassan, I have no idea how this journey would've turned out. 


I am currently a Medical Claims Representative at Progressive Insurance. In an individual is insured by the company is in a car accident and injured, I am the first point of contact to ensure they can receive medical care. Though this is not the traditional path of someone who has major in Social Work, the skills that I had learned within the program can be utilized anywhere! I use a lot of what I learned in my job every day- taking recorded interviews of customers, phrasing/formatting different questions, and providing empathy and understanding when a customer is going through a challenging and traumatic time. There are all the things that I take pride in knowing, and being able to use them in my current  job is something that I feel proud of.   


Siena gave me a ton of connections that I did not even think were possible. At my current job, I am on a team with a Siena Alum, which made my transition from college to the workforce seamless. There is a sense of community even after graduation that I was shocked to see. I promise that being a saint and learning the core values of Siena is not something that goes away after you graduate. You are always going to want to strive to be in the middle of action making change regardless of where out are and what you're doing, I couldn't be more proud to have gotten these skills and life lessons from Siena. I am so grateful to be an alum.