Terrier Volume 78, Number 1 - Spring 2014 - Page 9

Today’s Terriers Elizabeth Peralta ’15 — Finding Her Way By Meghan Lewit Like a lot of students, history major Elizabeth Peralta ’15 initially struggled to find her niche. “The first semester was rough. I felt kind of alone,” Peralta said. “And then I met Bro. Greg (Cellini, OSF). He just said, ’Why aren’t you putting yourself out there? This school is for you, so you just have to go and reach out for it.’ ” T hat was a turning point for Peralta. In her the layers of people’s lives, she says. As a fellow in freshman year, she started a chapter of the the SAFA program last summer, Peralta researched Society of Claudel at St. Francis. The group, Gabriel Furman, a historian whose journals from the which also has chapters at Columbia, New York 19th century are housed at the Brooklyn Historical University and Fordham University, meets once Society. (Editor’s Note: Brooklyn’s Furman Street is a week to discuss topics of faith and to organize named for Gabriel Furman’s father.) Through her work community service projects. Members currently in the archives, Peralta explored the history and tutor children in East Harlem once a week. changing attitudes towards slavery in New York. Peralta also heads the History Club at the College, While the three-year grant for the SAFA program and was a Summer Fellow in the Students and Faculty has ended, Peralta hopes the College will, in the in the Archives (SAFA) project at the Brooklyn future, find the means to continue providing similar Historical Society. experiences to students. “We need more things like Peralta came to history through that because it’s an opportunity music. She played saxophone “We need more things like [SAFA at the Brooklyn to discover who you are and what in high school, and her music you love,” she said. Historical Society] because it’s an opportunity to teacher suggested that she Her desire to help other students explore the history of jazz. Peralta find their way also inspired Peralta discover who you are and what you love.” fell in love with jazz — both the to run for and win the election for music and the story behind it. Student Government President for She felt that the melodies gave voice to the pain and challenges in the next school year. “St. Francis is small enough for everyone to have a her own life. The middle of five children, Peralta took over much of voice, but a lot of people don’t know that,” she said. “What I love about the responsibility of caring for her younger siblings when her mother St. Francis is the personalness, and you don’t get that at other schools.” became ill. Peralta lost her mother several months ago, but said her Assistant Professor of Fine Arts Jennifer Wingate describes Peralta mom will always be a major inspiration. as the ideal student. “She genuinely enjoys learning and is very open “My mom was amazing. I’m always impressed by her, even now,” and curious about new subjects,” Wingate said. “She brings a lot of she said. “She never gave up. Every time someone said ‘no’ to her she positive energy to class, along with thoughtful questions and a sense just worked harder.” of humor.” Peralta noted that her mother After graduation, Peralta plans was also dedicated to public to pursue a Ph.D. and hopes to service; she started working eventually teach at the college for the March of Dimes as a level. The strength that she gained member of the janitorial staff, from her faith and from the St. and eventually worked her way Francis community allowed her up in the organization. to open up to everything the “I just thought, ‘If my mom College had to offer, she said. could do this and have five kids, “I know now that if I just sit in I’m one student and I can the shadows I’ll never get anything definitely do this.’” done,” she added. “But when Although Peralta initially I graduate, I don’t want to forget considered law, she quickly about this school. It’s the greatest changed her focus to history thing that’s ever happened to me, Elizabeth Peralta ’15 at the shortly after arriving at St. Francis. and it’s molding me into the person Brooklyn Heights Promenade. History allows her to peel back I’m becoming.” ● ST. FR ANCIS COLLEGE TERRIER | SPRING 2014 | 7