Photo from the Egan School on LinkedIn.

For Aliyah Seenauth ‘24, February 28, 2023, is a date to remember. 

The Fairfield University Student Association held its yearly Presidential election. Typically held in the Barone Campus Center with guests and food, a snow day pushed the Fairfield tradition online, over Zoom.

Seenauth, a Queens native, has been involved on campus since her first year. Early on in her time at Fairfield, Seenauth worked in the Office of Student Diversity and Multicultural Affairs (SDMA), volunteered with Senior Year Experience/Senior Week, acted as a New Student Leader and served as 75th FUSA Vice President alongside Jordan Gale ‘23. After three years of involvement on campus, her final goal was to lead the Fairfield student body as FUSA president herself.

“I was born and raised in Queens, New York. I had no intention to go away for college, but was recommended to apply to Fairfield from an alum at my high school. I was looking for change in my life, and I took a leap of faith. Being the only school I applied to more than 30 minutes away from my home, I decided to attend Fairfield to gain a new perspective,” said Seenauth.

Seenauth and her running mate, Zachary Vargas ‘24 ran against Giovanni Young ‘25 and his running mate Bob Paltrineri ‘25  in the 76th FUSA Presidential Election.

A staggering 1,319 total students participated in the election that year, with 852 votes going to Seenauth and Vargas, making them the 76th FUSA President and Vice President.

“There is no one that defines leadership better than Aliyah. With her drive and immense passion, there is nothing that will get in her way of serving the student body,” said Vargas, who collaborates with Seenauth on a daily basis as the Vice President.

When her name was announced as the winner, Seenauth immediately began to cry. 

Seenauth and Vargas celebrating their election as 2023-2024 FUSA President and Vice President.

“When you grow up how I did, make it to college and are deemed to be successful–it is a completely life altering experience… I did not start out comfortable at Fairfield, so to be able to serve as a changemaker to make the experience comfortable for students who don’t have the easiest journey is all I wanted. At that moment, I felt like it was finally in reach.”

-Aliyah Seenauth

This victory marked Aliyah as the seventh female FUSA President in University history and the first woman of color to hold the position. 

Diversity, Equity and Inclusion has been important for Aliyah in all aspects of her life from her presidential campaign to her personal life. 

“I know what it feels like to not be heard or feel like you can’t find your place, I felt that way throughout my entire first-year at Fairfield. It has always been important for me to stand up for those unable to stand up for themselves.”

This passion for DEI inspired her to choose Public Health as a major; she found it to be the best mix of healthcare, leadership and social justice. 

She brought her love for healthcare to campus by founding a Health & Wellness Committee, which has organized 11 events, including a Breast Cancer fundraiser.

Members of FUSA at the start of the academic year. Photo from Aliyah Seenauth on LinkedIn.

Karl Uzcategui, the Associate Director of Student Diversity & Multicultural Affairs, has worked closely with Seenauth during her tenure as president, as well as her time at Fairfield. 

“Driven by a deep-seated desire for diversity and inclusivity, Aliyah’s efforts extend beyond mere programming; they represent a heartfelt mission to cultivate genuine care and understanding among her peers. Aliyah’s vision for Fairfield University is one where every individual feels seen, heard and embraced—a vision she tirelessly works to turn into reality,” Uzcategui said.

Uzcategui noted that Seenauth is a Lucy Katz Fellow. According to Fairfield’s website, these fellows work to unite Fairfield students and emphasize social justice.

“She [Aliyah] is a Lucy Katz Fellow at Fairfield University, and embodies a fervent commitment to nurturing a cohesive and inclusive campus community. Over the past two years, her dedication has been instrumental in fostering connections among Fairfield’s diverse student body. Through innovative joint programming, Aliyah has bridged the gap between commuter, residential, and graduate students, creating spaces where all feel valued and welcomed.”

Seenauth awarded the Cura Personalis Award. Courtesy of Aliyah Seenauth on LinkedIn.

Being so involved on campus, free time is not something that Seenauth knows well–but she likes it that way. 

“Since being elected as FUSA President, some of my days consist of back-to-back classes, and all of my days include a meeting or few. I pop in and out of different things every hour, which is why I love my Google calendar! If FUSA is hosting an event, I always try to stop by for as long as I can to offer support to my larger team. I tend to go back to my home in Barnyard quite late each day and I end my day working on emails and homework, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Managing such a busy schedule, she likes to look at the “purpose” around what she does and the effect that her work will have on other community members. To her, it’s all about serving others.

However, when she does find time for herself, Seenauth loves to read and watch movies, as well as practice makeup and learn Spanish on Duolingo.

“I have always viewed makeup as a form of art, and before Fairfield I used to freelance a bit, including doing special effects makeup. I have always loved this since I was a young girl, and had I not left New York, I likely would have still been pursuing it! I also have an eye for event planning, and I thoroughly enjoy planning family and friend events and parties–Pinterest is my favorite app!”

Danielle Parisi, the FUSA advisor, commented on how she is consistently impressed by Seenauth’s work ethic.

“It has been a pleasure working with Aliyah in the capacity of her advisor while she holds the role of FUSA President. She is so passionate and dedicated to her work and is truly a woman for others,” Parisi said. “She works so hard to make a positive experience for all students at Fairfield University and exhibit change on this campus. When she sets her mind to something, she will do anything she can to see it through completely! Aliyah has paved the way and created such a legacy for herself here at Fairfield!”

Aliyah’s work on campus has covered both social events like the spring concert headliner and behind the scenes, long term initiatives to help Fairfield.

“Something I am proud of that I was able to be a part of during my presidency was the conversion of the menstrual product dispensers around campus to be free,” Seenauth commented, noting her most rewarding work on campus. 

From recognizing First Generation College Students to running the Multicultural Ball to encouraging sports game attendance with giveaways, the impact of Seenauth’s work has affected nearly every student on campus, whether they know it or not.

Seenauth has been an advocate for women’s rights on campus, and recently led a Women’s Wellness Clinic for women on campus on March 25, which featured a Sexual Violence Awareness table, a Women in Sports table and even a table of books to encourage leisure reading. With the free time she has, she also became a Doula to support women holistically.

With the opening of the new Fairfield Bellarmine campus, she didn’t stop her work in Fairfield. Seenauth made many visits to the new campus to chat with administration to help connect students on both campuses and make them feel welcomed. 

Representing the student body is no easy task for anyone. Trying to encapsulate everyone’s voices and making sure everyone’s voice is heard means being met with a lot of criticism for certain decisions. Seenauth is proud of her work and believes that any response she receives from students is a learning experience and that she would rather not live in regret. 

Photo from Aliyah Seenauth on LinkedIn.

With her presidency coming to a close, Seenauth reflected on her time leading the student body. 

“I am surely content in what I have done during my time at Fairfield. While graduating is bittersweet, I have put my all into serving others through my role. Choosing to not live in regret, I don’t believe there’s something I didn’t want to do that I haven’t gotten around to.”

She noted that she believes that her work makes her hopeful for the future of Fairfield and the student body.

“I am hopeful that students will continue to engage in student life after many are still looking to gain back social experiences post-pandemic. Fairfield has a lot to offer in terms of student engagement, and I feel students are still learning the groove of things after social isolation. I would love to see students continue to gain Fairfield pride. I am hoping to take everything I’ve learned about serving the community and applying it to my next stage of life, during graduate school and beyond.”

To the members of FUSA and the faculty she works with day to day, Seenauth left a message:

“I hope I have taught them to never give up on advocating for what they believe should be done and to always lead by example.”

-Aliyah Seenauth

By Liz Morin

English (Creative Writing) and Digital Journalism || Politics Minor