About Aleena Sirota

A good advisor can sometimes see things about us that we can’t see ourselves.

Take the example of Aleena Sirota, a senior at Russell Sage College, and her advisor Karen Balter, an Associate Professor of Health Sciences.

Aleena had come to Sage in large part because of its strong programs in Physical Therapy. But she never quite felt a good fit with her studies. It seemed like too much of a struggle.

Professor Balter was noticing. Aleena’s grades in Psychology were so much better than those in Physical Therapy. She asked Aleena if she might want to consider becoming a Psychology major.

Aleena knew immediately that Professor Balter had correctly identified a change she wanted to make.

Professor Balter began setting things in motion. “She got me all the contacts I needed,” Aleena remembers. “She made the whole transition as easy as possible. I couldn’t have done it without her.”

Aleena will graduate next spring with a double major in Health Science and Psychology, with plans to go on to the Sage graduate program in Applied Behavior Analysis & Autism.

“I made the right move. I know that for sure,” she says. “It’s been tough, but it’s been a good thing and more.”

Change has never been particularly easy for Aleena. She was 3 years old when her family moved to the United States from Russia. That made them outsiders of a sort and Aleena always felt it a struggle to fit in. She chose Sage for its reputation in Physical Therapy, but also because she wanted a community that felt welcoming and safe.

She said Sage has been that place for her. She’s made great friends. “And in making these friends I feel like I’ve become more open,” she says. And I’ve become more aware of my goals in life. And my dreams for the future.”

One day, after she’s finished graduate school, Aleena sees herself helping students on the autism spectrum. “It’s always been one of my deepest desires to work with children,” she says.

She always knew, but she didn’t know how. Thanks to someone who was watching out for her, she finally got it right.