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An Interview with Melody Paniagua, former Assistant Director of Student Development & Leadership

“If you ask me about everything I did as a student leader, I can tell you every single detail… and the skills I’ve obtained are so essential to life,” noted Melody Paniagua, (now former) Assistant Director of Student Development & Leadership. Around Student Life, Paniagua created quite a reputation for herself in which she was revered both as a strong professional and a confidant for student leaders. Paniagua took the time to sit down with The Knight News and give a personal in-depth account of her experience as the Assistant Director of Student Development and Leadership before leaving her role. 

Paniagua details her role as an administrator by explaining how she was active in student life as well as Greek life. As Paniagua stated “My favorite part of the role was being the main point of contact for all the Greek Life organizations on campus.” As for student life, Paniagua served as an advisor for student leaders, made sure clubs and organizations were up to date on their paperwork and, as Paniagua describes it “cultivating ideas for programming [events]”. 

Paniagua was one of two main points of contact in the Office of Student Development and Leadership, the other being Dwayne Jones (the director). In her time as assistant director, she oversaw Inter Greek Council activity and worked with clubs on a day to day basis. She made sure that clubs were active, provided ideas for their events and sat down with executive board members to help them in their roles. Additionally, Paniagua created Knight Life, a digital newsletter which advertised club/organizations’ events. She collected flyers from clubs/organizations and assembled a newsletter every week which was emailed campus wide.

Paniagua was not afraid to be curt when addressing the stigma in Greek life. As she explained, “What people fail to understand is that Greek life is made of people. It’s the same similarity that all clubs have. The only difference is that we wear letters across our chest…because of the letters, we get all this media behind it.” Paniagua elaborated on her background with Greek life. She discussed how she places special emphasis on giving back to the community as she was a former student leader within the Inter Greek Council here at Queens College. She recalled “I was very eager to hit the ground running, to do what was best and make Greek life so good…to make sure greek life had that platform.” 

Whereas Paniagua was seen as a professional amongst students & colleagues, she went in depth about her own journey & challenges she faced along the way. Paniagua recounted working two jobs while simultaneously taking courses and being active in both, Greek and student life. With a strenuous workload, as well as a flourishing personal life, everything caused a strain. “I couldn’t afford a 3.0. That was the reality.” However, these experiences worked out for the best as they afforded her essential skills to go forward in her path to obtaining a Master’s Degree of Science in Education and School Counseling with a bilingual extension at Brooklyn College. Paniagua expects to graduate May 2020. 

Paniagua was able to speak about student life not just as an assistant director but also a former student leader. During her time at Queens College, Paniagua was the intergreek council activities chair and president of Lambda Pi Upsilon Sorority, Latinas Poderosas Unidas, Inc. Given her background in Greek life and club affairs, Paniagua carried this experience with her into her role as assistant director. She shared “I’ve never seen a club come to me with an event and me just flat out saying, ‘No, this is not good.’ If I know [the event] needs more development, I ask the questions to get them thinking and let them do the job themselves.”

Regarding her legacy, Paniagua’s message to the readers is “I mean, if it [my legacy] doesn’t live on, it’s perfectly okay.  A new person comes in [her successor] and things get lost in translation. I just hope that my students won’t forget me because I won’t forget them. I don’t care if Queens College looks completely different 20 years from now, because change is inevitable, but it’s more so that students have contributed to my changes because of who I was and who I am now. I’m still the same mold but I’m a different person altogether and it’s a better version. I have always been the same but more so now but I am more confident.” 


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