Anyway, Here's Wonderwall
My name is Anna Giannicchi and I am very good at what I do.
There is a certain arrogance in making a statement like this. Someone who says this would need to be positive that they could deliver on such a claim as anything less than excellence would ensure disappointment. It's not an assertion I make lightly - it's evident in everything I do. Even as I shape my future to include all of my interests; music, restorative justice, policy and public health, psychology and the law, I am certain of one thing: what makes me happy - dizzyingly, horrendously so, the closest thing I know to the rush of a performance - is when I am helping people. I know I'm good at what I do because the time I spend with others feels like the resonance of drums roaring in my bones; just as significant, and just as strong.
I was incredibly lucky that John Jay has given as much to me as I have to it. I was just a freshman when John Jay first came through for me. In between taking classes in the Interdisciplinary Studies Program, I spent time in psychology and anthropology classes, where I threw ideas at my teachers that they caught with both hands. My professors and peers became extended family – I was never lonely, even in a new city where I knew no one. My curiosity was sated time and again. At seventeen years old, I’d watch fascinating videos of people using heroin in my drug use and abuse class, always left with a burning hunger to know more – this led to an internship with the Injection Drug User Health Alliance. I’d see substance use on a daily basis; needle use, something that was once so frightening, became routine, as did blood dripping down arms, lesions, and people falling asleep in the middle of conversations. My professor had spoken reverently about how to use a navy blue naloxone kit to use in case of an overdose – something I’d never seen. Time has passed. Now I carry naloxone in my bag after two years of watching overdoses happen. I could administer it in my sleep - the thing I once knew so little about I've now conquered. Drug users embodied populations I’d spent years preparing for meeting: people who had been incarcerated; people with severe mental illness; sex workers; people who were physically unwell. What I had seen as a criminal issue was a matter of public health. I became a fierce advocate for harm reduction almost overnight.
I've done a fair amount in my life but I'm hardly finished. I hope to spend more time in places of incarceration, forensic hospitals, and courts. Psychology and the law have become the forefront of my studies. I write papers on psychopathology and competency in the daytime and sing in concert halls at night. John Jay lets me do it all – spread my interests everywhere, pursue everything - but most importantly, John Jay lets me advocate for others.
John Jay has both shaped my future and given me the courage to leave a thumbprint in the world of justice. Justice, I've found, isn’t a secondary layer to my future – it is my future, whatever I decide to pursue academically. I utilize the opportunities that sharpen my research skills, my familiarity with policy, and my conversations with experts in the field. I have found a home with people that are determined, passionate - people like me; people that make waves in a broken system.