Elianny Moronta Espinal is currently the Program Manager of the JFEW SUNY Global Affairs Leadership Program for the SUNY Office of Global Affairs, of which she is a proud Alum. She attended SUNY at Stony Brook and graduated this past spring with a dual major in Theater Arts and Psychology.
Elianny is the first person in her family to graduate from college. She credits her memorable undergraduate experience to not just one person, but many.
JFEW: What was the most inspirational or memorable experience that you had while in college?
EME: I met a lot of people who inspired me: a professor who made it easier for me to follow my dreams and declare my major; people during my time away (on exchange to Florida, and abroad in Florence) who changed my life in ways that I did not know could be possible. But by far, one of my most memorable experiences was during my senior year, when I wrote and directed a play focused on my grandmother's journey to the U.S. and her efforts to get my mom (and by association, me) to New York to provide a better future for me. The story resonated with the people that came to see it because, in part, it was their story too - a story of betterment, of hardships overcome.
JFEW: What do you wish that you knew then that you knew now?
EME: Things change. People go away. That does not mean you are still not going to be friends. Post-grad life is hard - especially when you are still searching for job opportunities. It is okay if it happens to you. It doesn't make you any less valuable.
JFEW: What was your proudest accomplishment during your time in college?
EME: The impression I left in the people that have become part of my life, and maybe knowing that I changed something, inspired something, and helped make things better. Also, the fact that I managed to graduate in three years and become the first one in my family to do so, and finding myself in the process – that was a big deal for me.
JFEW: How did your scholarship help you?
EME: It helped me open some doors that I thought were closed for me due to my status (a Permanent Resident as opposed to a U.S. Citizen, which hinders some of the opportunities I would like to pursue). It showed me that there is something I can do, whether it is through a movement created by me or by working at an organization whose mission and vision align with my own and what I seek to do in the world. It allowed me to travel part of the world and broaden my horizons as an emerging global leader. The scholarship also introduced me to people who could be my allies in changing things in the future. It did too many things for me to list, and I am always grateful for it.