'To help change someone else's life':

With focus on service, Cranston East's Aldana seeks to walk multiple paths

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Special to the Herald

Cranston High School East senior Genesis Aldana attended Park View Middle School as a student. Now, she spends time there as an intern, working in teacher Diane Capirchio’s classroom for several hours multiple times a month.

“She’s amazing,” said Capirchio, adding that she is grateful for Aldana’s time in the classroom and the extra set of hands she provides in times of need. “She’s very self-driven, very motivated, and she was meant to be a teacher.”

Aldana has been president of her class council for the past four years and is the student who brought the Best Buddies program to Cranston East. She has many interests and passions and hopes to be able to pursue them all in one way or another.

“I have been in JROTC since freshman year at Cranston East and now I am a senior ranking officer. My internship is part of that program. JROTC is a pathways program offered at East through the Cranston Area Career and Technical Center,” she said. “I want to go to school and be an education major, either in middle or high school, but I can also enlist after graduation, do two years in the military without commitment and then enlist as an officer, while getting my education degree at the same time. There are two lanes, two paths I could take, and I don’t want to give anything up.”

As a bilingual student, Aldana is specifically interested in ELL education, focusing on students whose first language is not English.

“My parents are from another country, so I know the struggles of adapting to another culture and I can relate to the students,” she said.

Aldana has also been in the Cranston Police Department’s Explorer program since her freshman year as well, participating in ride-alongs, learning tactical procedures and participating in the weeklong summer academy as well.

“I was the first female to ever receive their leadership award at the end of the week,” she said.

Aldana participated in the Girls State program locally as well as the National Law Academy program in Washington, D.C., this past summer. She was the first Rhode Island student to attend the academy’s program.

In order to be eligible for this year’s work-based learning opportunity, Aldana had to have good grades and she had to submit an application. She emphasized how important it is for students to consider the idea that they will have opportunities later on in their high school career that they may not be aware of as freshmen, and to prepare for the unknown as they go along.

“I tell kids now, you’re going to be a senior before you know it, make good choices now,” she said. “Sometimes freshman year, it seems so far off and you don’t think ahead or you don’t do well in classes, and then you’re not eligible for an internship.”

Aldana believes that her internship opportunity has only reinforced her desire to be a teacher and it has made her consider aspects of the job she hadn’t before she got an insider’s perspective.

“When I am here, I walk around and I make sure the students are on task, I answer questions, I help them work with Google Classroom and I help students if Ms. Capirchio is working with someone on something,” she said. “It’s made me really think about students feelings and their reasons behind something, like why they may not be listening to you or why they might not be doing their work. There may be something going on, maybe something going on at home, and they bring that to school as well.”

Through her experiences, Aldana has put her organizational skills to work and has learned to be flexible, both of which are critical for classroom teachers.

“I’ve had to see what you do when no one did their homework and the focus for the day’s class was the homework from the night before,” she said. “You have to change mid-stream and do something else. I’ve seen great examples of how to do that and it’s been a really big help.”

Aldana, who will be the second person in her family after her older sister to graduate from college, believes that her own experiences will help others as well as herself.

“I don’t do all of this just for me,” she said. “I do this to help empower women. It’s not for the fame or anything like that. It’s to help change someone else’s life, to change the world. You’ll never change something by being just like it.”

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