FUSA President reflects on time at Fairfield
An interview with Alex Long ’14, outgoing FUSA President
What do you believe are the best things about Fairfield University? Everyone who works at Fairfield is invested in your success as a student and as a person. They go above and beyond. Mentoring is also great. It happens in so many places and in so many ways at Fairfield. It makes all the difference.
What was your hardest experience at Fairfield? Right off the bat, I was surprised by how difficult I found the transition from the tight-knit confines of the quad to the more dispersed dynamics of sophomore residential living. As a first-year student, I liked having my friends immediately available/accessible and got used to them being physically close. Sophomore year students separate, so I had to figure out ways of communicating and re-creating communities outside the traditional residence hall dynamic. That was an important learning experience.
What was your ‘aha’ moment at Fairfield? I was not involved or as disciplined when I was a first-year student. There were lots of opportunities I could not pass up, like a leadership opportunity Carolyn Rusiackas offered me in Campus Ministry. I needed to get myself more organized and more disciplined so that I could get involved in this and other activities that I saw as essential to my experience here.
What were some key experiences for you outside of being FUSA President? Being a presenter at the Crossroads Retreat (retreat for male students) reminded me of the fine line that separates students who know success and students who struggle. As a student leader, I learned that you need to ask people what they think of you because they will tell you the truth about yourself. You will hear about both strengths and weaknesses.
The service trip I took this winter to Jamaica was a life-changing experience for me. You go to help others but, and I know this is cliché, you find that they are helping you. I learned about community, faith, hope, time, and love. Of these, the things I found remarkable and which have prompted my own reflection is that time for the people we visited was limited. As such, they knew how to make the most of their time, and they did so in cultivating relationships. This gets to hope. What they hope for is different from what I or my peers tend to hope for: jobs, graduate school, great grades, good times with friends. The people I visited had hope for human companionship. That’s it. This is their notion of love, and love is the foundation of their community.
What is the best advice you received? The best advice I ever got was from Rob Vogel ‘13, Class of 2013 FUSA President. He told me to turn a weakness into a strength. My weakness was being all over the place and not being able to immerse myself into one or two important things. I turned this into a strength by focusing on being accessible to people and to events, but doing it in a smart way that made me mindful of other commitments.
Random superlatives: I am versatile, that is my best quality.
Favorite movie: Crash
Favorite musician: Bruce
Thing people don’t know about you: My mother made me do musicals when I was growing up. I was in Oliver.
What would you do if you were king of Fairfield University for a day? I would build a new RecPlex. I am thrilled about the recent gift from Trustee John Meditz. The RecPlex is so important to students. And I would rethink how we educate students about alcohol use and abuse. More messaging should come from peers. It needs to be based on reality.
What person has had the greatest impact on you? There are so many people that have impacted me. One who comes to mind most immediately is Fr. Michael Doody. He’s been there from the start for me and forced me to ask myself the hard questions.