Plattsburgh State senior fitness and wellness leadership major Matt Paolillo always knew what he wanted to do but it wasn’t until he came to PSUC that he realized he could combine his career path with his passion of helping people.
He initially had an interest in exercise science, but he didn’t know what he wanted to do with it until his junior year of college.
“I always exercised as a way to distress,” Paolillo said. “The more I did it, the more I wanted to learn and better myself and others.”
The desire to help people led him to apply to be a resident assistant his sophomore year and has been a RA since the fall of last year.
“At first, I didn’t know what to expect from it,” Paolillo said.
He said when he became a RA, he wasn’t sure if was going to be able to do a good enough job because he wasn’t that involved in activities on campus.
For Paolillo, Housing & Residence Life turned into a family he didn’t expect to have. He said that it’s similar to being in all the clubs on campus.
“I was able to help residents with a whole bunch of situations,” Paolillo said. “Building the whole community on the floor is really cool. I just set the tone with my floor, and I want to make sure they know I’m here for them if they need me.”
Paolillo’s experiences in his RA position helped him in his professional endeavors, as well.
Paolillo first interned at Champlain Valley Physicians’ Hospital concentrating in physical therapy. Then, he worked with the women’s soccer team for a full season doing physical therapy and training.
“It was stressful at first because there’s 25 players, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into,” Paolillo said. “There’s a lot of different personalities, but it helped that I had experiences of being an RA under my belt.”
Paolillo said he knew how to present himself in a professional way. Being in a group setting for personal training was something he wasn’t used to at first, but he grew to love it.
“With athletes, there are always injuries, and it was something I didn’t really think of before,” he said. “You have to be on your toes. It’s almost like putting a puzzle piece together and figuring out how am I going to change this program or training for this one athlete. Everyone is different.”
PSUC graduate student Jake Goldblum said he has seen grow Paolillo these past years into a more confident individual.
“The first time I met Matt was during RA training in Summer 2014,” Goldblum said. “I came to find out that he is a really kind, gentle-hearted person as I’ve gotten to know him better.”
Goldblum said Paolillo is professional in his role in the dorms and outside of it as well.
“I think he has fun with both things. He likes to incorporate fun and having a good time in everything that he does whether it’s hanging out with residents or if it’s during an RA meeting,” he said.
Goldblum said Paolillo did so well as an RA that he suggested he apply to be a head RA.
Paolillo got the position at Harrington Hall this fall, and Goldblum said his growth has been leaps and bounds.
“He’s a lot more confident, he runs meetings very well, and he’s a great facilitator and adviser,” Goldblum said. “When I first started to work with Matt, he had a lot of skills. Over the last two years, his skills have really developed if he wanted to, he could run a residence hall in the future.”
Goldblum said Paolillo puts 100 percent effort into whatever he does, and he’s been able to practice those skills throughout his time here at PSUC.
Paolillo is also a personal trainer in the PSUC Fitness Center, which has been another opportunity to perfect his skills.
Assistant Director of the PSUC Fitness Center Melissa LaMere has known Paolillo since his freshman year and has served as his professor and his adviser.
LaMere said Matt sets a high standard for himself. He takes on a lot of responsible and he always exceeds expectations. LaMere promoted him to supervisor position at the fitness center, where is responsible with overseeing the center on nights and weekends.
Paolillo said whatever he learned in terms of programing or training techniques, he gets practice his clients in the gym and help them reach their goals.
He said he feels an extra boost of motivation when he’s working with someone and can get them to accomplish great things.
Paolillo also is the intramural program coordinator for recreational sports on campus. He was responsible with running an intramural league for on-campus students last spring. It turned out to be a semester-long tournament with different sports such as dodgeball, kickball and volleyball.
“Eight of the 11 buildings showed up to participate in the tournament,” Paolillo said. “It was a really good turnout for something so new.”
Paolillo said he didn’t think he would get this much out of PSUC and get such valuable professional experience.
“When I look back at my mindset when I first got here my freshman year compared to now, it’s a complete 180,” he said. “At first, I thought that I was going to come here, do four years and get out and run a gym.”
Paolillo said the more he got involved working with different people on campus, the more he realized he enjoyed helping people.
He said students should utilize everything they can on this campus and try to get involved with as many things as possible.
“It’s been a privilege working with him,” Goldblum said. “I know he’ll be awesome in whatever he does in the future.”
Email David Luces at email@example.com