Interviews compiled by: Jocelyn Visnov, Lauren Raziano, Karen Flores, Jilleen Barrett, Megan LaCreta, Kyla Guilfoil
The Quad 10 issimilarto Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People list, but on a Manhattan College scale. The ten following members of the graduating class of 2021 were chosen by the executive board of The Quadrangle assome of the best and brightestseniors MC has to offer.
Ally Mejia has taken her passion for PR all throughout campus and beyond.
She came into her freshman year confident that the Communication major was right for her.
“I originally knew I wanted to do communications. I just wasn’t sure which area in particular,” Mejia said. “But then after doing the Intro to Communication course with Dr. Thom Gencarelli, I realized that I did have an interest in PR, especially because of the entertainment aspect of it.”
Mejia has made significant contributions with her involvement in MC’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. She began as a Junior Board member during her sophomore year, then took on the role of Social Media Coordinator her junior year. Ally finally served as PRSSA President for the past year, leading the club through various skill building activities and organizing events with Executive Board members.
During her final semester, Mejia has been working as a Remote Scripted Entertainment PR intern at NBCUniversal. She has recently accepted an offer to become a full-time Communications Coordinator with Peacock Streaming Services starting soon after graduation.
Along with PRSSA, Mejia has also worked with Residence Life serving as a Resident Assistant in Jasper Hall, and was part of the Summer 2020 W.I.S.E Fellows.
“My advice is to get involved on campus in any way that you can.” Mejia said. “I think we have some really great clubs here that provide such great opportunities.”
Christine Nappi transferred to Manhattan College as a second semester freshman, and has never looked back. By following in her parents footsteps by becoming a Jasper, she instantly felt at home on campus, and finally found the sense of community she had always wanted.
“Having come from a different school, I can truthfully say that there is no place like Manhattan College.” Nappi said.
Nappi quickly immersed herself in the MC community and became involved with various clubs on campus and has held numerous leadership positions. Christine served as the Features Editor for the Quadrangle for two years, recently stepping down to serve as a Senior Writer for her last semester. She was also a Campus Correspondent for Her Campus at Manhattan and the Treasurer of the Manhattan College Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America. Nappi is also an active member of Sigma Delta Tau, a student worker for the Communication Department, and was a part of the W.I.S.E. fellowship program.
Nappi is a communication major with a concentration in public relations and a minor in marketing. She has held multiple internships and recently accepted a job offer to work as a full-time hybrid Account Coordinator for 5WPR beginning in the fall.
Nappi’s number one piece of advice for underclassmen is to get involved on campus and find clubs that interest you.
“At Manhattan College, it’s so easy to get involved on campus and you’re just instantly welcomed into a community of people that support you and want the best for you and want to see you succeed, but also they want to help you get there.”
Isabel Frazza is graduating as a peace and justice studies and religious studies major with a minor in Philosophy.
In fall 2022, Frazza is set to attend Yale University Divinity School to pursue a masters degree in religion with a concentration in women, gender and sexuality studies.
Frazza has an accomplished list of academic achievements. In 2022, she was the Pope John XXII Peace Studies Medal Recipient, and from 2019 through 2022 she has been the recipient of the Fr. Anthony Rubsys Award for Religious Studies Scholarship. Frazza has membership into the TAK Religious Studies Honor Society and the Epsilon Sigma Pi Honor Society, which is considered the highest scholastic honor that can be earned by a Manhattan College student.
“Most notably, Manhattan College has impacted my life because of the people I have met during my time here. In the classroom, I have learned so much and I have a better understanding of complex issues because of my interdisciplinary studies across the School of Liberal Arts,” Frazza wrote to The Quadrangle.
Frazza was an active member of the Manhattan College Senate, being a secretary during the 2020-2021 school year and Senator during her 2021-2022 year. She was also a member of the Manhattan College Debate team and participated in the 2021 Regional Ethics bowl Competition.
She was also a member of the Student Government Association, first joining as the freshman class vice president and later serving as the School of Arts vice president her senior year.
While at Manhattan, Frazza completed her senior honors thesis, studying the treatment of LGBTQ faculty at Catholic secondary schools.
“I am going to miss the people the most — from the classmates who became close friends, to the faculty who helped me grow as both a student and person, and all of the friendly faces that I have become so used to seeing around campus during my time here,” Frazza wrote.
Sydney Waitt from small town Maine was ready for the city-life Manhattan College. Waitt is graduating with a double major in peace and justice studies and political science.
“My college experience here I feel has been amazing. I couldn’t have asked for better people around me, better professors, and just like such an overwhelmingly loving and close knit community,” Waitt said.
As a freshman, she was a member of the Manhattan College Green Club, the Love Your Melon Club, the Just Peace Club and has continued to be a part of Scatterbomb as a stand-out comedic talent.
In the following years, Waitt became an intern at the women’s center, LWGRC, and started a talk show on WRCM Rocks called “Call Him Mommy” with Maria Thomas.
Waitt was a part of Campus Ministry and Social Action retreat L.O.V.E Trips, and was scheduled to attend the Israel and Palestine trip sophomore year, which was canceled due to COVID. She will be leading the Kairos retreat before she graduates.
“I also was a part of the L.O.V.E trips, so I was going to go on L.O.V.E Israel and Palestine my sophomore year, but then this lovely bout of COVID hit, literally the school shut down on Wednesday and we are supposed to leave Friday. So I never got to go,” Waitt said. “But my experience with the L.O.V.E group was amazing and it’s one of the things that COVID kept from me.”
While COVID impacted some of her college experience, Waitt was also able to work as a student assistant for the Digital Arts and Social humanities program.
Waitt is grateful to Manhattan College for providing her with a strong support system and the connections it has brought her.
“I say this probably every day to my roommates and friends but I’m just gonna miss the people around here, we’re not like the fanciest school but, by far we have like the most wholesome and welcoming community,” Waitt said. “For someone to be in a small town their whole life in Maine and then come here and make friends and the connections I’ve made and you feel as comfortable as I have, it means that Manhattan College is a very special place.”
Waitt is aspiring to attend the University of Glasgow, Europe next semester to achieve her masters in their human rights and conflict resolution program.
Kevin Rojas is graduating with a degree in political science and is pursuing law school with the hopes of becoming a lawyer within the realm of immigartion and civil liberties. He recalls that the reason why his family could stay in America is because of the help from an immigration lawyer and he hopes to be able to help “the next generation of people coming [to America] since they deserve the chance at a better life.”
Rojas currently serves as the Student Government Association president. One of the things that he says he will miss the most from Manhattan College is the community. As president, he was able to connect with various clubs and organizations ranging between the fraternities and sororities to the different cultural groups like the Muslim Student Association and the Black Student Union as well as the Student Veteran Organization. He said the opportunities provided to him here at MC helped him sharpen his abilities to connect with many diverse groups of people, network and also with his public speaking skills.
He hopes that students take advantage of the vast opportunities and connections that being a Jasper can bring to someone.
“Actually making the initiative to go out is sometimes the hardest part. But once you do you get to like, see them so many different walks of life. And that’s been something that’s probably gonna stick with me moving forward. No matter how uncomfortable you might get, it’s definitely worth it in the end,” Rojas said.
Ciara Coyle was 15 years old when her high school teacher introduced her to a cosmetic chemist. Previously unaware of the profession, Coyle came to realize what she wanted to do in life: work at Estee Lauder as a cosmetic engineer.
After four years at Manhattan College, the only school in the country with a chemical engineering program, Coyle can finally say she achieved her dreams. After graduation, she will be working at Estee Lauder, where she interned during the summer of 2021 as a hair care research and development intern. She will be starting as an associate engineer for the company.
Coyle didn’t think she’d make it this far, though. Held back by imposter syndrome, she said she always felt unsure whether she would be able to complete her degree.
“I waited for the day where I would get one test grade … that was too low for me to pursue [the rest of the coursework],” Coyle said. “In chemical engineering specifically, usually if you drop a class you’re a full year behind … I really did not think I’d make it this far.”
Not only is Coyle making it to the finish line, she also held a number of leadership positions along the way. At Manhattan College, she was a W.I.S.E fellow, a participant on the L.O.V.E El Paso trip, a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) as well as SWE for Scouts, the vice president of the Pen and Sword Honor Society and held two board positions for Sigma Delta Tau, including president.
In addition to these, Coyle also started the Cosmetic Engineer and Chemist Society. She says these experiences have helped her get to where she is today.
“I feel like my imposter syndrome has completely changed,” she said. “I have academic based knowledge and cosmetic engineering that no one from any other college would ever have the opportunity to get in. I get to walk into a job confident that I know what I’m doing.”
Jana Clark had no idea what she would accomplish by the time she completed her communication degree at Manhattan College, her concentration being public relations.
“Coming into college, I didn’t really know where I wanted to do and I kind of picked PR [public relations] on a whim, not exactly knowing what it would entail,” Clark said. “But over these past four years, I’ve really grown to love it.”
After taking several courses on public relations which required her to do group work, Clark felt she became better prepared for the leadership roles she pursued at MC. She was involved with Campus Ministry and Social Action, went on L.O.V.E Dominican Republic and led L.O.V.E Flint, spent a year as the vice president of philanthropy for Sigma Delta Tau, pursued an internship through W.I.S.E, held the position of president of Lambda Pi Eta, held three positions in the Public Relations Society of America, was a member of the Pen and Sword honor society, co-coordinated the MC chapter of HerCampus.
Most recently, Clark served as vice president of communication for the Student Government Association. She co-authored the initiative for the campus-wide walkout in protest of the lack of mental health resources at the college.
Clark believes being so involved during college helped prepare her for the real world opportunities she plans to pursue in public relations after graduation.
“I would still say I’m a pretty introverted person … [but] what I’ve been involved in and the different leadership experiences that I’ve taken part in have really allowed me to grow as a person as a leader and just become more confident in myself and my skills,” Clark said.
Liola Moody has certainly left her mark on Manhattan. The political science and international studies student has fittingly been a major figure in campus politics, serving as the Student Body Vice President and Chief Justice of Student Court.
However, the accomplishment she is most proud of is founding Turnstyle, Manhattan College’s student-run thrift store. Turnstyle opened in the Fall semester, and quickly gained a reputation of being a go-to stop for fashion-forward Jaspers to donate and purchase secondhand clothes. The store also features the work of student creators, selling everything from handmade tote bags to buttons to crochet beanies. Funds from the store are donated to local charities.
“It was the hardest project I took on, and also ended up being the most fruitful,” said Moody.
Always advocating for causes important to her, Moody’s attitude towards life is deeply inspired by her grandmother, who was the first female producer at ABC.
“I’ve heard stories of her standing up to really insane sexism and misogyny and forces and institutions that were really built to keep her in a very specific spot,” said Moody. “She fought really hard to open up her own opportunities. And I would say that I definitely tried to do the same not just for myself, but for others.”
While Moody managed to find her spot at Manhattan, her path wasn’t always the easiest. She offered advice to the next generation of Jaspers, and encouraged them to explore all the possibilities their time in college has to offer.
“Everything is going to change every year, semester, month, day,” said Moody. “College is not a concrete place. You change your major, you change your interests, you go from club to club. I’ve been involved in so many different things. The person I was freshman year to senior are two completely different people, and that’s a really good thing. So don’t come in thinking that you have to be this one person that you thought you were going to be. You’re allowed to change things and it’s very good to change.”
Moody’s next project is yet to be decided, but it is certain to be just as impactful as the work she’s done as a Jasper. She hopes to go into nonprofit work or to work in foriegn or domestic policy. She offered a few wise words to others graduating without a set plan.
“There’s no way that it’s not going to work out at the end of the day,” said Moody. “There’s a place for all of us in this world; we will find that it’s just a matter of looking.”
Devaughn Harris has made his own unique impact on Manhattan College. A senior majoring in philosophy and minoring in history, Harris has also served as a resident assistant, a member of the Diversity Council’s student life subcommittee, the Student Government Association’s Vice President of Residential Affairs, president of the Philosophy Club and even a client services technician for the college’s IT department.
Harris explained that his interests come together in a myriad of ways, and that all of his roles connect to his passions and the way he views the world, and ultimately grounds him in the community around him.
Harris will be attending the CUNY Graduate Center after he receives his diploma from MC in May to begin a doctoral program in English with a specialization in composition and rhetoric.
Ultimately, Harris hopes to teach English at a university level, and create the kind of welcoming environment for future students that he experienced at Manhattan.
At MC, Harris has demonstrated his academic prowess both in the classroom and as a Branigan Scholar. From February 2020 to August 2020, Harris worked with Adam Koehler of the English department to conduct research on the literary tools of African griot tradition applied to the musical artist Donald Glover’s career in order to show the importance and ubiquity of storytelling in today’s digital landscape of the internet.
Harris shared that he has been grateful to experience such good relationships with students, faculty and staff across campus over the last four years. He has been impacted by all of these groups, and leaves MC with an appreciation for its community.
“Going into these last four weeks, it’s really just trying to take account and try to take stock of everything that’s been impactful and important here, and it’s hard to because there’s so much but at the same time, it’s worthwhile,” Harris said. “I definitely wouldn’t be who I am right now at this moment talking to you with the words that I am if I didn’t have the experience what I did, and you know, there’s so many people that have been a part of that, and I can’t name them all because it’s probably a really long column, but just a big thank you.”
Mamady Ballo has spent her time at MC not just bringing opportunities and support to her peers, but also to people across the globe.
As she approaches graduation with a degree in international studies focused on African and Middle Eastern studies, Ballo also finishes out her time as the president of the Black Student Union, member of the Diversity Council, representative of the Campus Life Committee and the student representative of the college’s Shared Governance Group.
Beyond MC, Ballo has worked as a Civic Engagement intern at the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition and a field organizer for John Sanchez’s campaign for New York’s 15th Council District. Further, Ballo is the CEO and founder of the NGO Help Kids in Cote d’Ivoire, having worked for the organization since early 2015.
Using this extensive background in public service work, Ballo is working to find a full-time position in the private sector. Her goal is to pass the Foreign Service exam and become a diplomat in Western Africa, Senegal or Mali.
Ballo shared that she is most proud of the work that she has been able to do for the BSU. As president of the group for the past two years, Ballo has overseen the group’s advocacy efforts and success in building a better community for all Jaspers here on campus.
“I’ve been able to contribute to major milestones on BSU and that’s my proudest, greatest moment: making people feel comfortable, changing the campus culture, meeting so many new individuals and hoping to make their journey here at Manhattan College so much easier,” Ballo said.
Ballo emphasized that what you put into college is what you get out of it. She encourages other students to not be afraid to create the spaces that they do not feel are created yet, and to use the support of those around them to develop change.
She hopes that incoming students are not afraid to put themselves out there and stay true to themselves.
“Always be you,” said Ballo. “Be the best version of you, the absolute best version of you. Don’t change yourself, for anyone. College is a growing experience. You’re gonna find people who are going to love you for who you are. They’re going to accept you for who you are. Just be the best version of you and always represent yourself.”