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Toniann Chianese

Senior speaker finalist Toniann Chianese works hard to balance her studies and extracurricular activities with her role as single mother of a five-year old, all while working two jobs. 

At Purchase, the Mount Vernon native who currently resides in Liberty, NY has been a math tutor, a teaching assistant for the college writing and circus skills classes, and the poetry and art editor for the Italics Mine literary magazine.

In March 2018, the EOP/MAP program recognized her as the student of the month.

She’s worked as a camp counselor and creative writing specialist at the YMCA in Middletown, NY, and also completed an internship as a tutor at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility that’s become a permanent placement.

Her experience as a tutor has been a transformative one. “I strive to become a teacher and share every ounce of knowledge that I come across with those who surround me.”

Toniann Chienese

PC: Describe a moment during your Purchase experience when you felt most challenged?

TC: I felt most challenged when I was in the hospital for two weeks during the spring semester of 2016. I had to make up an excessive amount of work in a small amount of time.

And most proud or triumphant?

TC: I felt most proud when I got my first poem published in the Submissions Magazine at Purchase. It was my first time ever having a piece of my writing published.

If you had to predict, what is something from your time at Purchase that you think will leave a lasting impression?

TC: I think obtaining my internship, as a tutor, at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility is something that will leave a lasting impression. It was then that I realized I wanted to be a teacher and I now have a permanent job tutoring there.

If you had to name one, who is the professor who had the greatest impact on you? Why?

TC: If I could only name one professor, Aviva Taubenfeld had the greatest impact on me. Her method of teaching and the way she interacts with her students is truly inspirational.

What does Think Wide Open mean to you?

TC: Think Wide Open, to me, means to take every obstacle that comes your way and turn it into an opportunity for a learning experience.

What do you hope to be doing a year from now?

TC: I hope to be excelling in grad school a year from now.

What will you miss most about Purchase?

TC: I will miss all of the friends, professors, and other intellectuals that I have had the honor of surrounding myself with.

Any words of encouragement for your fellow graduates?

TC: Read every word you come across (yes, every single word), don’t ever get comfortable with how much you know, never stop asking questions, and don’t be afraid to change direction.