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UAlbany Senior Dedicates Herself to Helping Others

Avellino Creates Student Group ‘UAlbany Alive' to Support Suicide Prevention

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 15, 2015) – In her four years at the University at Albany, Rose Avellino has found through extensive community engagement work that no act is too small to make a difference.

The public policy major graduates on Sunday, May 17, and has been invited to give the Rockefeller College individual recognition ceremony speech.

UAlbany senior Rose Avellino
Senior Rose Avellino started a student group called UAlbany Alive to help support suicide prevention. (Photo Mark Schmidt)

She spent the spring semester living in Washington, D.C. as part of UAlbany’s Semester in Washington program. She was an intern in the office of U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, where she learned more about politics and federal issues.

“I also had the chance to see some historic moments like the vote on (Attorney General) Loretta Lynch from the Senate gallery,” said the Fayetteville, N.Y., native.

Avellino, the daughter of East Syracuse Minoa High School Principal Greg Avellino and Pine Grove Middle School special education teacher Traci Avellino, says both her parents serve as role models who inspire her to work hard in the classroom and take coursework seriously.

Outside of the classroom, Avellino has built a long record of giving back to the community.

While still in high school she went on two trips to the Dominican Republic. “I witnessed much poverty that has never left my mind,” said Avellino. “Despite it, the kids there were able to imagine a brighter future for themselves.”

Her community engagement in efforts in Albany began when she started a student group called UAlbany Alive (A Life is Valuable Enough), which raises awareness for an issue that does not always get enough attention – suicide prevention.

“I founded UAlbany Alive with a group of friends my sophomore year who had a close friend pass away the previous year,” she said. “I was honored to organize the Out of the Darkness Walk, the first event of its kind on our campus, which will continue for years to come and bring attention to an issue that’s especially important to a college campus.”

Between the walks and other fundraisers, the UAlbany student group has raised more than $20,000 since fall 2012 for the American Federation of Suicide Prevention.

Avellino was Director of Community Engagement and Outreach for Student Association from 2013-2014, and during that time she organized the Pine Hills Clean-Up. That fall more than 500 students showed up to help.

“Standing in the parking lot and seeing the line wrap around for people to sign in was gratifying,” said Avellino. “It was great to see so many different groups work together for one common goal.”

Avellino assisted the University President’s Office with the October Community Service Month Initiative and led a “Student-to-Student” initiative with Hackett Middle School that brought six student groups from UAlbany to the middle school to work with students.

On another occasion, a group of high school students visited the UAlbany campus. “One of them pointed out that Collins Circle was a stop on the way to the mall, but didn’t realize that UAlbany was behind it. That was a moment I’ll never forget and why I continued to do outreach with Student Association while I served as director,” she said.

Avellino isn’t leaving Albany after graduation. She is enrolled in the BA/MPA program at Rockefeller College, where she has already taken 12 graduate credits while still an undergraduate. “I plan to graduate in December 2016 with my MPA and hope to move back to D.C. to work on the Hill. The MPA is a unique opportunity and the chance to learn from talented professors and be close to our state capital.”

Avellino was recently hired to intern at the Department of Health in the Office of Health Insurance Programs while finishing her master’s degree. “I look forward post-MPA to making a difference in the health policy field,” she said.

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A comprehensive public research university, the University at Albany offers more than 120 undergraduate majors and minors and 125 master's, doctoral, and graduate certificate programs. UAlbany is a leader among all New York State colleges and universities in such diverse fields as atmospheric and environmental sciences, business, criminal justice, emergency preparedness, engineering and applied sciences, informatics, public administration, social welfare, and sociology taught by an extensive roster of faculty experts. It also offers expanded academic and research opportunities for students through an affiliation with Albany Law School. With a curriculum enhanced by 600 study-abroad opportunities, UAlbany launches great careers.