By Ashley St. John,
Acadia Pezzolesi, a senior human development and family relations major, has always felt like she wanted to do something to help others.
Her freshman year of high school, she was diagnosed with Lyme disease and had to be taken out of school. Because she wasn’t diagnosed right away, her health quickly declined, and she was bedridden for a while.
“It had gotten to the point where I almost died a couple of times,” Pezzolesi said.
When she was healthy enough to go back her senior year of high school, she was met with bullying for being gone for so long, so she decided to do homeschool full-time for the rest of that year.
“It made me a stronger person,” she said.
While this was a dark time in her life, it also helped shine a light on what she really wanted to do, and it helped gear her toward a helping profession. She said that because of how much experience she had in the medical field, she wanted to give as much as she could. She thought about being a nurse, but she doesn’t like blood and needles, so she had to find a different option.
She was able to find her spot in medical social work where she can help people in the best ways she can.
When Pezzolesi was four years old, she began her ballet career. All throughout her life it was something she was incredibly passionate about, but she had to slow down her training when she got sick.
“My doctors told me not to dance, but I still did it anyway,” she said.
Once she fully recovered she was able to return to her full-time training for her pre professional career which included 20 to 25 hours a week of intensives. She said that she was all set to go professional but found that the ballet community was “very political and awful.” She still loves ballet so she chose to start teaching.
She teaches at Center Stage and Empire Dance Company here in Plattsburgh and Dance Evolution in Malta. She said she teaches all ages from 4 years old up to about 40 years old, but she’s most passionate about teaching 12 to 17 year olds. She found that teaching was what she was meant to do because it was another way she was able to help people.
Pezzolesi is currently in a full time internship where she can do what she loves at Families First in Elizabethtown. She was supposed to work in person throughout the week but because of COVID-19, her internship is completely online. The 12 credit internship requires 32 working hours a week.
“She’s an extremely hardworking student,” Ona Belser, one of Pezzolesi’s supervisors for her internship said. “She takes initiative and pays close attention to detail.”
Pezzolesi also used to work for The Center for Disability Services, which is a “day hab” that provides direct services for 18-years old and up individuals. She said that she would help people through their daily routine and help them with activities that make sure they develop socially and mentally.
She also talked about how they usually have Camp Spectacular in the summer, which is a day camp for high functioning adolescence kids who have autism.
“It gives them the same experience as other kids without feeling singled out,” Pezzolesi said.
Due to COVID-19, they didn’t have her back over the summer, and she isn’t sure when she’ll be able to return because the facilities like that are opening at a slower rate.
Pezzolesi plans on getting her masters in social work at UAlbany, St. Rose or SUNY Binghamton. Because she’s graduating this semester, she plans on either working or taking a few classes to fill the spring semester because those colleges won’t accept new students until the fall. She said that once she’s licensed, she would like to do medical social work in hospitals doing intakes.
“She’s one of those you know she’s gonna go far,” Belser said. “She’s gonna accomplish a lot.”