Andrew Sciascia didn’t know what he wanted to do when he came to UMass Lowell.
In fact, he didn’t want to be here at all. He came from a wealthy Boston suburb where high school students feel lots of pressure to go to elite, private colleges. But as a first-generation college student from a single-parent household, he knew he had to go to the least expensive school on his list. He internalized that as failure.
“I had a very challenging experience transitioning to college,” he says. “I didn’t give UMass Lowell a chance.”
But UMass Lowell gave him a chance, offering him everything from academic support to work experience, from opportunities for social growth to mental health support. After a miserable first semester, Sciascia came back determined to take advantage of all those resources.
He got involved with the UML College Republicans and The Connector student newspaper. He decided to double-major in political science and criminal justice and learn all he could about American politics and homeland security. In his sophomore year, he got a job as a resident advisor so that he could help other first-year students with their transition to college. He found friends everywhere.
Then, Sciascia gave himself a break – and a challenge. He applied to the Disney College Program for spring 2018. He was accepted, and he spent six months interning and taking business classes for credit at Walt Disney World.
“I just needed to get out of New England, go and isolate myself from what I’d known and meet new people from all over the world,” Sciascia says. “It was a reset point for me.”
He returned feeling confident and happy with himself and UMass Lowell. He’s planning to earn enough credits to graduate with two separate bachelor’s degrees. He’s the managing editor of The Connector, and he’s become a regular columnist for The Western Journal, a conservative news site.
Sciascia interned for MassVictory, the coordinated campaign for Republican candidates in Massachusetts, in the months leading up to the 2018 midterm elections. He found that he loves knocking on doors, talking to people from all walks of life and learning their stories.
“Campaigning in a liberal stronghold is invaluable experience,” he says. “I like that person-to-person discussion and sometimes debate. I like hearing from people who have jobs and values and families, what bothers them and what excites them.”
He’s still not entirely sure what he wants to do, but he’s narrowing it down. He’d like to find a job as a political analyst, either for a conservative media outlet like Fox News or in politics, working for Republican candidates or the party.
He doesn’t feel any of the animus that’s so often expressed in national politics these days, though. Just the opposite: He says many of his friends on campus are liberal Democrats who share his passion for politics.
In a recent column for The Connector, Sciascia wrote about how he went from hating college to embracing UMass Lowell.
“We all come to this university with a different story, and we are welcomed with open arms, provided the resources and community we need to succeed and asked to unite in our common goals and drives as River Hawks,” he wrote.