During his junior and senior years at the Charter School for Applied Technologies in Buffalo, Joey Cicatello was elected student body president. He made plenty of friends, gained confidence, and felt “in the know” in his high school’s hallways.
However, when it came time for college, he felt more uncertain.
“I am a first-generation college student,” Cicatello said. “I didn’t really have anyone to go to so I had to figure it out by myself.”
And figure it out, he did. Cicatello, a social work major, exudes confidence and poise. He expanded the leadership skills he honed in high school and now serves as the president of United Students Government (USG), an organization in which he started as senator.
Getting Involved with USG
“Being part of USG is affirming,” he said. “You have a seat at the table. You get to represent a vast variety of individuals. It gives you a perspective you may never have had before.”
His favorite part is attending many of the USG-sponsored events and general interest meetings.
“Students talk about heavy- and hard-hitting topics,” he said. “There is always an opportunity to learn.”
“Being a commuter doesn’t mean you can’t be involved or engaged. You just don’t reside here at night.”
Despite being a commuter, Cicatello said he’s felt integrated into the campus from the beginning.
“I made friends with residential students who have invited me to hang out in their dorm,” he said. “Being a commuter doesn’t mean you can’t be involved or engaged. You just don’t reside here at night.”
He also has made deep and important connections with his fellow social work majors.
“We have conversations about our lives, our internships, and our coursework,” he said. “We’ve developed more of cohort than just classmates. We know a lot about each other and that pushes us to get our work done and be the best that we can be.”
Connecting Outside Campus
Outside of campus, Cicatello serves on the board of the YWCA of Niagara Frontier and interns at a local school's family support center, providing aid, connective services, and group and one-on-one interventions. Both positions dovetail nicely with his major and career goals. Cicatello wants to become a school psychologist and plans to pursue a master’s degree after graduating.
“I see myself working in a middle school,” he said. “I think it’s a critical time in children’s lives. If there is not someone who understands them and their development process, they are not going to reach the best of their abilities."
Eventually, Cicatello also wants to earn a law degree so that he can advocate on the part of children in need. Assistant professor of social work Jessica Fitzpatrick, who also has a juris doctor degree, inspired Cicatello to follow this track.
“She helped me see that social work is a community-centered profession,” he said. “I eventually would like to advocate for people and give a voice to the voiceless.”