September 4, 2018

School Shooting Survivor Finds a New Home at Adelphi

Photo: Jason Bean/RGJ

Alex Trujillo grew up in Reno, Nevada, but he’s known since October 2013 that he wanted to go to college in another state. That is when a deadly shooting at his middle school forever changed his outlook.

“That kind of opened my eyes to wanting to see the world and do something else,” he said. “I love Reno, but I definitely felt like I needed to change.”

The shooting didn’t just affect Trujillo’s longer-range plans. It inspired him to take on leadership roles in school and in protests against gun violence. He became student body president at his high school and, last year, led schoolmates in the national walkouts after the Parkland shootings.

By that time, he was eager to go to college in the New York area. That’s when his guidance counselor introduced him to Adelphi.

“What really led me to Adelphi was the feeling of being inclusive,” said Trujillo, who is gay. “There’s a lot of diversity on campus and the location of the school is really close to the city, so I’m not far away from going in and adventuring.”

As reported by the Associated Press, Adelphi has also publicly promised not to penalize any current or prospective student who participates in a school walkout protesting gun violence.

Tapping into the Adelphi community

After applying to Adelphi, Trujillo connected with current and prospective students through the University’s Facebook page, and they helped confirm that Adelphi was the right choice.

“We all shared the same excitement and eagerness for our majors and college in general,” he said. “I could just feel that we’d all get along and become friends.”

They also made Trujillo feel like he could find a home at Adelphi.

“It sounds really cheesy, but it’s true,” he said. “I didn’t want to be somewhere I wasn’t going to be comfortable or where I was missing home. I wanted to feel like I was at home.”

Trujillo initially wanted to go to New York to study music, having grown up playing the cello, violin, viola and piano. But after playing music his whole life, and considering his middle school trauma, he realized he wanted to try something new. That’s when he discovered his passion for neuroscience and his interest in becoming a surgeon.

“I realized life is short,” he told the Reno Gazette Journal in a recent article on the survivors of the Sparks Middle School shooting. “Maybe I can do something as a doctor one day so some child in a school shooting doesn’t die.”

Trujillo emailed professors in neuroscience and premed at Adelphi to learn more about the available programs and make sure he was taking the right path. They helped him decide between molecular neuroscience, which examines how genes and molecules regulate nerve cell function, and cognitive neuroscience, which examines how the nervous system creates mental processes. He chose molecular.

“I want to really focus on how the mind works and how it connects to the body,” he said.

Finding home away from home

Accepted to Adelphi with a grant, Trujillo visited for the first time this summer during Orientation and immediately “fell in love with the campus.” He made a new friend who is also coming to Adelphi from the West Coast. They now talk every day and are looking forward to meeting up again once the school year starts.

“Once I was there, it felt like I was breathing fresh air,” he said. “I was independent, surrounded by friendly and kind people. It felt like a new home right away.”

With his first year approaching, Trujillo looks forward to starting this new chapter of his life on the East Coast and being so close to New York City.

“I really think that Adelphi is the place where I can not only further my education,” he said, “but also learn things about myself that I didn’t know and grow as a person to become independent.”


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About Adelphi: A modern metropolitan university with a personalized approach to higher learning

Adelphi University, New York, is a highly awarded, nationally ranked, powerfully connected doctoral research university dedicated to transforming students’ lives through small classes with world-class faculty, hands-on learning and innovative ways to support academic and career success. Adelphi offers exceptional liberal arts and sciences programs and professional training, with particular strength in our Core Four—Arts and Humanities, STEM and Social Sciences, the Business and Education Professions, and Health and Wellness.

Recognized as a Best College by U.S. News & World Report, Adelphi is Long Island’s oldest private coeducational university. It serves almost 8,000 students at its beautiful main campus in Garden City, New York—just 23 miles from New York City’s cultural and internship opportunities—and at dynamic learning hubs in Manhattan, the Hudson Valley and Suffolk County, as well as online. 

More than 116,000 Adelphi graduates have gained the skills to thrive professionally as active, engaged citizens, making their mark on the University, their communities and the world.

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