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Justice and Service

Involvement in Zeta Phi Beta Helps Student Blossom in School and the Community

Criminal Justice major Langie Cadesca's life was shaped by her mentors, and she gives back through service work in Albany and her native Brooklyn. (Photos by Naomi McPeters) 

ALBANY, N.Y. (May 16, 2017) — Sophomore Langie Cadesca’s journey to and through UAlbany has been characterized by a cycle of mentorship and personal resilience.

After arriving at UAlbany in Fall 2015 as part of the EOP Program, Cadesca joined a sorority, Zeta Phi Beta, quickly gaining the position of secretary. Next semester, she will be president of the chapter. Zeta Phi Beta, founded in 1920 at Howard University, historically has focused on service.

For Cadesca, Zeta has been life changing, propelling her to accomplishments she never stopped believing she could attain, despite surroundings that told her otherwise.

A Brooklyn native, Cadesca said her early years “looked like the projects. Metal detector schools, being scanned every morning when I’m walking into an educational institution. School fights, conflict, gangs on the streets, people selling drugs. This was everyday life.”

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 Cadesca with Hairat Ajose, her friend, mentor and sorority sister.

Even at a young age, she knew that if she had to live in this environment, she could not become it. “I was one of those students who thought that this is what my life is, but it doesn’t necessarily have to continue to be.”

Since middle school, mentors have been a major factor in her success. “Most of them have been African-American and female. It’s good to see someone who looks like you … provide you with what you need as a woman and as a black woman in this society to succeed and to be more than the stereotype.”

One of her sorority sisters, Hairat Ajose has been her biggest encouragement and supporter at UAlbany. “That relationship has been one of the most authentic that I’ve had.”

Ajose, a graduate assistant for Fraternity and Sorority Affairs, considers Cadesca to be the younger sister she never had. “Watching her develop into such a young leader,” she says, “has been one of the best times throughout my UAlbany years.”

A Criminal Justice major and Africana Studies minor, Cadesca’s dream is to become a district attorney and effect change within the criminal justice system. For now, she is an Indian Quad Resident Assistant. She is also involved in the Elect Her program, and is a 2017 recipient of a Spellman Award.

Outside of academics, Cadesca regularly works on community service projects in Albany and Brooklyn. “Even if I don’t go with my organization I will still go with my letters on because I want to expose the younger communities that this organization is present to assist our neighborhoods,” she said. “When I was young I didn’t have a lot of confidence in my culture because we were not taught the good things about African-American culture.”

It was during one of these community service trips with her sorority to Albany’s projects that she met a 7-year-old girl who was unable to read or write. “It was eye-opening,” says Cadesca. “It made me realize that although we say education is an outlet…not everyone is provided with those equal opportunities.”

Cadesca wants others to see that Greek life is more than a social organization. “We would like to provide more people with the opportunity to…build their character, and eventually take that character back home with them and…create a better society in the future.”

She is proof, as she says, that “your beginning is not equivalent to your future.”

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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.