Rae Levenson knew she wanted to go to Plattsburgh State when she was in eighth grade. She has been practicing Tai Kwon Doe for 10 years, and while she was teaching, Levenson taught a little boy with Autism how to perform. From there, she realized she wanted to be a special education teacher.
Before she had even started high school, Levenson took the PSAT’s, and she started receiving mail from different colleges. She started making lists of the different special education programs that colleges offered and by the end of eighth grade, she had already decided on PSUC. She said she liked that Plattsburgh had a five-year program.
“I knew what I wanted to do, and I knew in high school, it would be stressful,” she said. “I figured I’d just start looking when I knew.”
When Levenson joined the childhood education program at PSUC, she started field experience during her first semester, which helped her realize that she was on the right path. Levenson said she not only realized how much she enjoyed working with kids, but also realized that she loved teaching as well.
“You’re with the same group of people, which is really nice because you get super close to people,” Levenson said.
Senior childhood education and special education major Elizabeth Doyle was partners with Levenson for Project Connect, which is an afterschool program for students in their major. She said Levenson is someone who very outgoing and hardworking in class.
“ You walk down the halls with her and she’s saying hi to every other person,” she said.
Doyle said Levenson is dedicated to her major as well. She said Levenson is someone who’s in her major because she enjoys work with kids.
“Her whole aura is very uplifting and strong-spirited,” she said. “She could be having the worst day and she’ll say her day is still a 10 out of 10.”
Levenson is currently the captain of the rugby team. During her first semester, Levenson was convinced to join the PSUC rugby team while she was checking in.
“I didn’t even know what a rugby ball looked like, but when I was checking in, I wore a shirt that said ‘Kick Ass’ and the RD of the building said if you want to kick ass, you should talk to the captain of the rugby team,” Levenson said. “So I just went for it.”
Currently, Levenson has the most experience on the team. She said in rugby, there is a certain level of trust her teammates have to form to be safe on the field, and that also translates to them being so close as a team. Levenson said they usually play local schools, and it’s all friendly competition between other schools as well.
“Rugby culture in general is super accepting and it’s just this beautiful conglomeration of people who would otherwise not know each other, and we’re all just super close,” Levenson said.
Levenson became a CA for Whiteface Hall her sophomore year and has been a PSUC orientation leader. Levenson said she was always hanging out in the Resident Life Office, so she got recommended to become a CA.
“It’s cool because you know all of Res Life when you’re in Res Life, so you know everybody,” Levenson said. “It’s a great group of diverse people who are leaders, so you have this great network of people who you can reach out to for just about anything because they’re all trained.”
Levenson said it’s also interesting to watch her residents flourish in college as well. She said during student’s first year, they might be hesitant to try anything new, so she’s glad they have different programming efforts because freshmen tend to respond well to them.
“One of the ways you can get people out of their shells or get people to really be themselves is by doing it themselves,” she said. “It makes you really love yourself. And like be comfortable being yourself because you can model it for other people.”
PSUC junior communication disorder science major and psychology minor Sarah Keyes said that Levenson has been both influential with her involvement with reslife and with rugby. Keyes met Levenson on her first day of college, as Levenson was her CA at the time.
“When I first walked into my building with my parents, a very energetic female with a short pixie cut comes running out asking what floor I’m on. I said I was on the sixth floor, and she said she was my CA,” Keyes said. “She was energetic and throwing her arms out, and I thought ‘What did I get myself into?’”
Keyes said she had played sports in high school, and Levenson convinced her to join the team. Now, Keyes is the president of PSUC rugby, and two have continued to work together closely ever since. Besides rugby, Levenson also convinced Keyes to join reslife. Keyes said Levenson has had an impact on her college experience.
“She can’t not smile. Even when she’s sad or crying, she literally can’t not smile,” Keyes said. “She has a ‘I’m mad at you’ smile, ‘I’m disappointed’ smile and a “I’m sad’ smile but it’s always just a smile.”
Levenson said she tends to show her personality too to show her residents that they can be who they are.
“One of the things I like to do is be super flamboyant and out there and then people can look at that, and see I’m a student leader and see I’m still successful—even though I’m being me,” she said.
Levenson’s biggest advice for students is to make the most of it while being themselves.
“Do you. Don’t wait to start doing you. College has been the time where I’ve just been able to be myself,” she said. “It’s really great because there’s a place for everyone on this campus, so don’t feel like you have to reserve yourself,” she said. “You can find where you fit in for sure.”
Email Kavita Singh at firstname.lastname@example.org