In these challenging, unfortunate times we're all facing, it's easy to get caught up in negativity. Too often we tend to focus on what's going wrong rather than what good might come from our struggles. I decided to call up one of my good friends because I knew that talking to him would bring some positivity my way. I mean, if you know Jeffrey, you know that it's hard not to be inspired by him.
First of all, he was so humbled when I told him I wanted to interview him for one of my pieces. I really didn't have any specific plans for the article; I just wanted to hear what he had to say and then craft a piece from his responses. When he asked why I wanted to interview him, I told him, "Because everyone knows who you are and loves you!" It's true when I told him how I've heard multiple people say he is one of the faces of Fordham University.
In case you aren't familiar with Jeffrey Pelayo, he's a Film & TV major with a concentration in TV. However, he's far from an amateur when it comes to this field—he's a member of the video team at WFUV (Fordham's radio station) and even completed an internship at none other than The Wendy Williams Show! Although he dabbled in a little bit of everything, he mostly worked in production behind the scenes.
I had to ask him the famous "Why Fordham?" question. He said it had always been the school he was most interested in. "When I toured, everyone looked so genuinely happy," he told me. Fordham offers so much, including the prime location: "The Rose Hill campus is so close to the city, but not overwhelmed by it." Unlike other universities, such as NYU, it has a community and a campus that you normally wouldn't find at a school so close and associated with New York City. Rose Hill feels like it's own little town; it's so homey and comforting with all the plants and trees around, yet it only takes a short car or train ride to get to the heart of Manhattan.
I have no idea how he does it, but Jeffrey manages to be an active member of so many clubs and organizations. He's editor-in-chief of MODE, Fordham's student-run fashion and lifestyle magazine. Since I was the Love & Relationships editor of the magazine for a couple of semesters, this is where I grew closer to him. When I asked him what he wants to bring to MODE next year, he told me he wants to build on the community aspect of it: "So many people are involved in it so it's hard for everyone to get to know each other; it's more than just a writing publication."
On top of that, he's also a member of Flava, one of Fordham's dance teams (which I actually wrote a piece about a few semesters ago). The dance team is far from all fun and games—the dancers have their fair share of late-night practices, especially when the time for a performance is approaching. It's pretty impressive for someone to be such a great dancer when they never actually had "formal" lessons or practice prior to the team; he only used to play Dance Central on his Xbox in middle school (as we all did) and danced for two years with a no-cut dance team in high school.
Another club he's very proud of is FUPAC—the Filipino club at Fordham: "We celebrate culture, food, and even meet with the Filipino clubs at other schools." FUPAC also puts on performances—which he will be in charge of next year—that include a pageant and a showcase of Filipino culture. It's nice to hear that the FUPAC family hasn't let quarantine stop them from spending time together: "we've done Zoom calls and sometimes we'll play Kahoot with Filipino trivia."
In case that wasn't enough, Jeffrey has also been a resident assistant (RA) for some time now; he's going into his third year as an RA. It's actually funny because he lived in Loschert Hall when he was a freshman, and the residence hall he was assigned for both his sophomore and junior years as an RA happened to also be Loscert Hall—so he's spent three years living in the same building!
I believe that being an RA is such a remarkable job; I have no idea where I would be without the RAs I've had the past few years. "I was so honored to be selected," he told me. He said that, despite the hard work and training, it's an experience that is more than worth it: "I love meeting and helping people."
Because he's been an RA in a freshman dorm for two years, I figured he would be able to give some advice to incoming college freshmen. He gets asked this question a lot, so he had multiple things to say. "Don't be afraid to speak to anyone and try to meet people in clubs, classes, the residence hall you're living in, and even the cafeteria. Forming study groups with the people in your classes is also a good way to get to know people."
But the piece of advice I would have loved to hear before I started college has to be this: "Forget everything about social life in high school because college is about being whoever you want." He's right; unlike the hierarchical, sometimes petty environment of high school, you can talk to and be whoever you want when you're in college. "College is a reality check for what the real world is like," Jeffrey added, "everyone's in the same boat and just trying to figure things out ... everyone's trying to make friends and have someone to talk to."
Since he's so well-known around campus, I had to ask him just how he became involved in so many things and met so many people. Unsurprisingly, he said that the club fair is a good place to start. He told me, "freshman year, I went to so many club meetings and met so many people." The first club he went to was Fashion For Philanthropy (FFP), which is actually how he got an internship and became involved with the club's fashion show.
Oh, and I can't forget to mention that he's famous for his style. It's hard for him to choose a favorite designer, but he adores Dolce & Gabbana: "I love how they mix royalty with streetwear… their collections are so fun and interesting." Something Jeffrey loves about fashion has to be the ideas behind the collections. "I'm not a fan of how the fashion world can be so focused on money… I just like the idea of creating art and ideas.," he added. When I told him I wish I could explore the world of fashion, he said that Instagram is a great place to start: "there are so many Instagram accounts that give information about all of this stuff."
Finally, I had to ask him about returning back to Fordham for our senior year. Besides looking forward to seeing everyone, he told me, "I'm excited to see how much has changed after quarantine—what we've learned. I was able to really clear my mind." He also shared how it will be interesting to see how much he'll be able to squeeze in within the two semesters.
I think we can all learn a lot from Jeffrey. Although it may be challenging sometimes—especially in difficult times like this—being open and putting yourself out there is the best way to build relationships and discover who you really are.
P.S. You can check out the latest edition of MODE Magazine by clicking on the link provided!
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