Meet Alexander P.

Political Science

“Institutions like Hudson Valley are so important for people like me to be able to go back and get that second chance.”

Hudson Valley Community College students continuously strive to have an impact in the community and make their voices heard. Political Science student Alexander Patterson is one extraordinary example: he is the first student at the college to have earned a full-time internship with the New York State Legislature.

Alexander grew up in the small town of Corinth, where he attended Corinth High School. But due to personal struggles with substance abuse and other family-related health issues, focusing on school was particularly hard for him. He dropped out, earned a GED, and then attended college in 2014. However, his struggles continued, and he did not follow through.

After looking around him and realizing that “everything was wrong,” he also realized that it didn’t need to be that way. As he began to analyze many of the things that had happened in his life, he began to believe there were systematic reasons behind them.

“Our own lived experiences inform a lot about how we see the world,” he says now. Not only was he ready to change his own life, but he wanted to make an impact on the world around him as well. So, he turned to involvement in political activism, including avid participation in local Black Lives Matter and other social justice movements. This led him to become a part of the DSA, or Democratic Socialists of America.

In 2021, Alexander ran for a seat on his local town board, but his father became ill and passed away shortly before the election. Hardship continued to follow, and Alexander really started to think about himself and his goals. After recognizing that he had often been in rooms with people holding advanced degrees, he finally decided to continue his education.

“Going back to college made all the sense, and it was time to dive right back in,” he says. “Hudson Valley seemed like the right place to go and be able to really restart my academic career, to be able to prove myself, and to be taken more seriously in applying to other academic institutions.”

Now, Alexander is a dedicated, full-time Political Science student with an expected graduation date in Fall 2023. His immense dedication to the field is what landed him the exceptional opportunity to complete an internship with New York State Assemblymember Sarahana Shrestha.

Alexander had met Shrestha during a public power campaign and admired the way she had transformed an issues-based campaign into an electoral campaign. Soon after, while volunteering, he personally informed Shrestha that if the opportunity became available, he would be interested in an internship with her. She agreed, and he set out to find out what opportunities were available through the college.

Because he has followed New York’s political process for a while, Alexander has gained a new perspective during his internship. “It’s interesting to see how things work on the inside, as opposed to pushing for something from the outside,” he says. He has a prominent role in the office and is very much enjoying the internship.

Alexander credits his time at Hudson Valley for helping him pursue his passion and create a future he looks forward to pursuing. “I’m very grateful for the opportunities this school has afforded me,” he says. The professors, in particular, have made a difference in his journey as well. “I would love to name almost every professor I’ve had thus far,” he says of those who have helped him along the way.

“Dr. Whitaker played a big role in helping me get into this program. One of my favorite professors that I've had, that I had in my first semester who really helped me feel confident as a student, was Professor Todd Wysocki from the Psychology Department. He’s really great, I can’t say enough nice things about him.”

Looking ahead, Alexander plans to move on to a four-year institution, and then advance to either law or graduate school. He says that Tufts University, NYU and Columbia University are a few of the top schools he is considering, but staying in the SUNY system is a possibility as well. As for a career, he’s open to possibilities—as long as they allow him to help others and make a difference.

“I don't know that there is a dream job-- it’s wherever I'm able to affect the most change,” he says. “My career and what I'm able to achieve personally is less important to me than helping be a part of something that helps others and makes an impact. It’s not seeing myself as a hero crusader who’s going to change the world by myself, but realizing that it takes making connections and building a movement for a better world.”