Alejandra Fishman, a Fashion Merchandising major with a minor in Marketing, is incredibly close with her family and her Puerto Rican culture. She has always loved fashion, and she attributes that passion to her home life; growing up, making clothing was a way to connect with her family, her community, and her culture in general. People in her hometown did not have the money for “fast fashion,” so most clothing was created for the family by the family in order to last. Now she wants to transform that cultural connection into a profession in curating fashions for museums.
At the age of thirteen, Fishman was diagnosed with depression. She struggled significantly with her mental health; she felt lost and ashamed. She explains that, “If I needed to get surgery, people after[wards] would be able to see my scar and ask about it, and I wouldn't be ashamed to speak about it.” She speaks about her mental illness with the same nonchalance. Fishman firmly believes talking about her depression has not only helped her heal but has helped the people around her heal from their own experiences.
During the fall of last year, Alejandra Fishman made the difficult decision to withdraw from all her classes and move back home to Puerto Rico for mental health reasons. Although it was difficult seeing all of her friends gallivanting around at schools in the continental United States, she has not regretted that decision for a moment. In fact, it has made her even more adamant about sharing her issues with mental health with the world. When she returned from her semester home, she was “re-energized, re-focused, and most importantly I was happy.”
Upon her return, she became active with Hillel and now serves as their Achoti chair. She works to bring awareness and attention to women’s issues through Hillel and aims to create a community for students looking for a home. She is a stronger student--and person--because of her immense resilience. In fact, if Fishman had to describe herself in one word, it would be resilient. She has defeated every obstacle which has fallen in her path with strength and durability, and she credits some of that ability to endure to an unwavering sense of optimism: “La joie de vivre” or the joy of living. She strives to live every day as though it is the best day of her life.
Fishman’s advice for other people struggling through difficult situations, especially those related to mental health, is simple yet poignant: “don’t fear the word ‘yes’”. Alejandra Fishman not only exhibits such fearlessness--she embodies it, and she will continue to do so.