By Gerianne Wright
Even as a 9-year-old, Rodelyn Alcidonis knew he wanted to be an attorney when he grew up.
Being born with a visual impairment and living in Haiti wasn’t enough to keep him from succeeding. Neither was his father’s matter-of-fact pronouncement that no one in his family had ever achieved such a goal.
But the dream never died; he just carried it with him like the briefcase he toted as an elementary school boy, which, he said, “made me look like a lawyer among my peers.”
Today, the 2005 sociology graduate is principal attorney and owner of Alcidonis Law Office, practicing family and immigration law in Philadelphia. Admitted to SUNY Plattsburgh through the Educational Opportunity Program, Alcidonis received services through Student Support Services, one of three TRIO programs at SUNY Plattsburgh. The federal TRIO programs are outreach- and student-services programs aimed at increasing access to higher education for economically disadvantaged students.
Alcidonis’ success in SUNY Plattsburgh’s Student Support Services earned him the national Council for Opportunity in Education TRIO Achievement Award this fall.
Alcidonis knew what he wanted and was determined to get it right from the start, said Dr. Michele Carpentier ’77 G’87 CAS’87, assistant vice president for student affairs. Carpentier, who was previously director of special programs in Student Support Services, worked closely with Alcidonis during his time at the college.
Alcidonis said he had a normal childhood, even though his eyesight continued to worsen.
“I played like every kid on the block and had a chance to be a child,” he said. “I had enough vision to play soccer with them, to ride bicycles with them but not enough to read my books. So, I could not dream as big as these kids.” At least not out loud.
By the time the family immigrated to the United States in 1998, Alcidonis said the dream looked more attainable. He attended Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where he learned English in three months. Fighting for his independence, he refused to be transported to school by school bus because of his disability or to have a student aide with him for his classes.
“I just kept pushing challenges to the side, pressing onward,” he said. “I had met other successful blind attorneys and judges, and that did it for me. I was ready to fight anyone who was going to put barriers in my way.”
But at SUNY Plattsburgh, instead of a fight, he said he found an ally.
“It was important that I was surrounded by folks who actually believed in me,” and the staff was devoted to making sure that that happened, he said. “No one there ever said no to me. They were just there for me in every sense of the word. I am, as a result, forever indebted to them for the non-compensable amount of time they put in to see that I was given what I needed to do well in college.”
“Rod was a can-do kid at a can-do school. He was a perfect example of what we do right at Plattsburgh,” Carpentier said. “And he’s always credited being part of a TRIO program for helping him get where he is today.”
“Today, I dream of anything and everything,” he said
“Maybe holding elected office is the next thing on my list … The world is wide open for me.”
Next story: Night of Nations Brings World to Plattsburgh.
For more information about the SUNY Plattsburgh alumni newsletter, please contact:
Michelle Marasch Ouellette
Director of Public Relations and Publications
Phone: (518) 564-3095
Alumni can subscribe to Calling Card by joining the Plattsburgh Alumni Community (PAC).