July 22, 2020
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Victoria Guglielmo of Farmingdale, N.Y., a recent graduate of Mount Saint Mary College, was a first generation student, had a double major, and volunteered with several campus clubs and local educational programs.
Recent Mount Saint Mary College graduate Victoria Guglielmo of Farmingdale, N.Y. is a trailblazer: Not only is she a first generation college student, but she was also one of the first students to enroll in the Mount's Criminology program when it was introduced about four years ago.
"I initially chose to major in criminology because it was unique," Guglielmo explained. "I was interested in the criminal justice system, but also wanted to know more about the victims, society's reactions [to crime], and why people commit deviant behavior. Criminology allows you to explore all of these options."
Thanks to her passion for the Spanish language she soon added a second major, Hispanic Studies. But once Guglielmo began the program, she discovered that she loved learning about Latinx cultures just as much as speaking the language. It followed suit that Guglielmo jumped at the opportunity to study abroad in Spain.
"My favorite part of being a Hispanic Studies major is the opportunities for students outside of the classroom," she said. "For me, these included teaching an English as a Second Language class and spending a semester abroad in Granada, Spain." The experience "allowed me to grow both as a person, and a Spanish speaker."
Her study abroad experience was one of the reasons Guglielmo decided to apply to the Peace Corps. It paid off: She was recently selected to serve as an English Teacher in Costa Rica.
On top of all that, she also was an art minor. "It was something that allowed me to express my creativity and explore myself in a different way," Guglielmo said.
With such a full course schedule, it would have been understandable if Guglielmo had focused solely on her academics. However, the dedicated student was far more ambitious: She was founder and president of the First in Family Network, a campus club that helps prepare other first generation college students for the rigors of college life; she was a student ambassador and orientation leader for the college's Admissions office; she was named a member of both the of the Criminology (Chi Rho Iota) and Hispanic Studies (Sigma Delta Pi) honor societies; she volunteered at the Newburgh Armory teaching an English as a Second Language (ESL) class; she was a Dominican Scholar of Hope; and more.
Juggling so many different courses and activities was a lot of work, but Guglielmo took it in stride. As a first generation college student, there was much to learn, she explained. "But everyone at the Mount was receptive and helpful which made the transition easier," she noted.
Of course, included in the list of people who helped her along the way were her professors. Guglielmo credits Jenifer Lee-Gonyea, associate professor of Criminology, with helping her to develop her critical thinking skills, and Kate Burmon, assistant professor of Criminology, for encouraging her to study abroad in Spain.
She added that Victor Azuaje, associate professor of Spanish, "pushed me out of my comfort zones and showed me that it was possible for me to do things I never thought I could."
And so, Guglielmo's advice to new college students speaks to what made her four years at Mount Saint Mary College so successful.
"Try new things!" she said. "Do things that you might scare you. You never know what you're going to end up enjoying."