PORTRAITS BY CHUN-LI 'KEN' HUANG
Francesca Treglia grew up with her two parents and brother in Brooklyn, NY. She attended a private high school, St. Joseph Hill Academy, in Staten Island. She is the first person in her family to have the opportunity to pursue a degree in higher education—and following her graduation, she will recycle the fruits from her growth and hardship, working with Teach For America.
“My childhood experience helps me stay motivated and when I wake up each day I take it one day at a time. I am thankful for the opportunity to go to college.” Francesca’s parents were born in Italy and immigrated to the United States in 1995. However, when Francesca was 3-years-old, her father suffered from a work-related incident that left him physically disabled and unable to work and her mother world a few days a week in a library as a clerk.
In order for the chance to attend the private academy she did in high school, Francesca was one of the few students who partook in work study. “It caused me to feel discriminated against, although I was receiving the same education,” she said. Francesca is able to attend Marist with the Higher Education Opportunity Program (HOP), a program between New York and colleges that gives economically disadvantaged New York residents the possibility of higher education. “I was one of 200 applicants for this program, and was one of 16 that was accepted.”
All her life, Francesca has worked hard to support her family. Every break she has from school, she goes home and works in a law office. “I try to provide, I pay for groceries for my family.” Francesca also has a younger brother who is 17-years-old. “I make sure he does not have to work and focuses on his studies. If he needs something, I handle it. He offers to pay me back but he can’t, it is the thought that matters. I will take care of it.” The hardships Francesca has faced in her personal life has helped to define her and allowed her to grow as a successful, motivated and hardworking individual—all of which transitioned into her presence on the Marist campus.
When she came to Marist, Francesca was a biology major but later switched to psychology because of her fondness for the psychology class she took in high school. “I originally wanted to pursue clinical psychology. As soon as I switched my major from biology to psychology I was given the opportunity to do an independent research study.” Francesca was later enrolled in Abnormal Psychology, taught in the spring 2016 semester, by Dr. William Van Ornum. Towards the end of the semester, he asked if any student was interested in completing an Independent Research Study. This opportunity immediately sparked Francesca’s interest and was the kind of opportunity she sought for.
Francesca takes part in a multitude of clubs on campus including, the Anime society, psychology club, the pre-health fraternity, and the Asian Alliance, which she is President for. Many of her friends and family questioned her reasoning for joining the club in her freshman year, and furthered the question when she held her first e-board position for the club as a secretary in her sophomore year. It has grown to be of importance to Francesca to emphasise the desire to increase knowledge and awareness of other cultures.
“A reason for joining Asian Alliance was because I grew up in a predominately Asian neighborhood back home in Brooklyn, NY and Asian Alliance was home away from home for me,” she said. “This club has had a significant impact on me through my four years at Marist, and it is one activity I am most dedicated to.” When Francesca was a freshman, the student that held the presidency in Asian Alliance talked to her about running for a leadership position within the club. This validation lit a fire in her and motivated her to be a leader. By gaining responsibility she learned to delegate roles to members, therefore they also have the opportunity to take charge of events, and develop similar leadership skills.
“My friends, family, and some members were confused as to why I would join the club or let alone be on the e-board member. I would tell them that as long as you love the club, its purpose and have passion then anyone can be a part of it.” Her father and friends influence her each day to appreciate all the opportunities she has been given and to not take anyone or anything for granted—and her father inspires her to stay motivated and work hard each chance she has. “I wake up early, usually around eight or nine, to make sure I am prepared for the day. I go to my classes and to the library to study, then I attend my weekly e-board meetings or club events. Then I go home and get ready for the next day.”
Her hard work, continuous motivation and kindness will carry with her as she moves past Marist following graduation when she works with Teach For America in the NYC region for two years. Then, she is planning to apply for SUNY Post Baccalaureate programs online in order to take prerequisites for speech therapy, which she wishes to pursue as a career. After finishing schooling she hopes to work in the United States for a few years, but eventually move to Japan where she studied while she was abroad.
Her childhood and adolescent years have taught her a great deal about life and the future. If she could give advice to anyone it would be, “Don’t give up on yourself, just because you think you cannot do it. Push through and find something you love to do.”