Diego Elejalde Cuadrado


"I grew up in a small apartment with my mother in Manhattan. I was used to the fast-paced life of the city. Everyone was always looking down at their phones, in a hurry to get somewhere. One summer, a friend of mine invited me to his family’s summer home in Old Forge and it opened up a new world tome. I went hiking for the first time; I tried canoeing and four wheeling, too.

There was such positive energy up here, and I just fell in love with the countryside and the Adirondack Mountains. I knew this was where I wanted to be some day.

In 2012 I lost my stepfather. It was a tremendous shock to me and it was one of the most difficult timesin my life. He wasn’t in my life for a long time, but he was my father figure, more so than anyone else had ever been to me. High school did not start off well. I thought that I would end up dropping out because I just wasn’t in the right mindset; I wasn't motivated and I was just so down. When I transferred schools, my guidance counselor became one of my biggest inspirations. She taught me about balance and that it exists throughout life. No matter what you go through, there is always a positive side. With her help andnpositive outlook, I realized that I could achieve anything, as long as I didn’t give up.

My graduation day was such a big day for me and it meant so much to look out and see all of my family and friends so happy for me and so proud of me. My stepfather had always taught me to make him and my mother proud, but most importantly to make myself proud. I was so proud that I yelled into the microphone, 'I did it!'

I am in my first semester at SUNY Adirondack and I’m studying Liberal Arts. I see myself becoming a school guidance counselor so that I can inspire future students the way my guidance counselor inspired me."

Diego Elejalde Cuadrado
New York, NY
Liberal Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences, Class of 2017