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Me’ilani Nelson

Embracing the campus culture

Me’ilani Nelson, a junior Photography major from Maui, Hawai’i, moved all the way to New York because they were sure they wanted to go to a SUNY school.

They took college classes in high school, and completed their Associate’s degree at GCC in just one year. A few professors who recognized Me’ilani’s talent and work ethic told them to check out Purchase College: Me’ilani might like the culture there.

Those professors were right: Purchase’s School of Art+Design intrigued Me’ilani, and during orientation, they were impressed with the way Purchase’s professors spoke with them. They were the most open and honest about the programs, Me’ilani said. They didn’t feel like Purchase’s professors were trying too hard to sell the school, and didn’t hold back, saying “yeah, it’ll be tough, but you’ll learn a lot.” Me’ilani appreciated that.

Student Government in Action

Not only is Me’ilani a dedicated photography student, they’re also the future president of the Purchase Student Government Association, and involvement in the student government is one of their favorite things about Purchase. Last year, when they were the chair of the Student Senate, some students came to Me’ilani explaining that part of the woods was going to be built over. “The Environmental Science students gave us all the details,” Me’ilani says.

Within 48 hours, the PSGA had a resolution written, and they got over 500 signatures from the student body backing them up, and protecting their environment.

“Every time I turned a corner, there was a student there, asking me to sign their sheet, and I was like, ‘I gotcha!’” That is the definition of Purchase students.”

Me’ilani also encourages any students interested in activism to join the senate:

“Join a club, and join the student senate!” For students who want to make changes to campus, joining senate is the way to enact change of any kind, from protecting the environment to installing more art.

When I asked Me’ilani what their advice for future Purchase students would be, their response was simple:

“You’ll be fine!”

When they started out, they had the usual college nerves, but once they found an upperclassman to show them the ropes and guide them through their program, they began to make the most of their college experience.

“Also, go to class,” they add pointedly. “It’s what you make of it. If you go in thinking that college is all classes, and they’re all gonna suck, that’s what it’ll be. But, if you come in ready to join clubs, make friends, that’s what it’s gonna be.

“Realizing what I want to do for my future? Purchase taught me that.”

*Quotes edited for grammar and clarity.