November 26, 2019
Alexandra Kadell-Peltier ’16 is the assistant director of disability services/special programs at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.
Alexandra Kadell-Peltier ’16 has taken what some people once told her was an insurmountable obstacle and turned it into a list of successes.
The Long Island, N.Y., native, who graduated from MCLA with a bachelor’s degree in history, is the assistant director of disability services/special programs at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Mass.
“I provide and ensure access to students on campus,” said Kadell-Peltier, “whether it’s academic, housing, or dietary, and provide support. I have the conversation with students about how to advocate for themselves.” Kadell-Peltier and her staff also oversee a new testing center provided for students who need testing accommodations, such as more time to complete their work or a quiet place with reduced distraction.
The job is more than a rewarding career for Kadell-Peltier, it’s also personal. “I’ve had a learning disability all of my life,” she said, “and I wanted to shed it, but now I embrace it. I try to talk about it with my students, so they can see that I’m a person who has a job and who earned a master’s degree, because people had said to me, ‘You’ll never be able to get a college degree.’ It’s something to be proud of.”
She lets students know that it’s okay to acknowledge a disability and to ask for the access they need. “My job is to make sure that we’re not just complying but providing an equitable environment that is inclusive of every type of person.”
When she began her career, Kadell-Peltier was focused on first-year students, but began to see how much of a difference she could make in an underutilized area such as disability services. “Some students are facing many barriers while also trying to get their degree,” she said. “I’m trying to make sure their experience at Berklee is the same as any other student’s. These accommodations can allow a student to graduate.”
Kadell-Peltier said she wouldn’t have the job she has now without MCLA. Her College mentors encouraged her to pursue a graduate degree, and she went on to receive a master’s in higher education/higher education administration from Salem State University. She credits her academic advisor, History Professor Dr. Anthony Daly, with helping her to investigate a wider range of professional avenues and encouraging her to look at the bigger picture. She now views situations from a historical perspective. In her work, she examines situations contextually. “It was indirectly taught, but those skills have helped me in a professional setting,” she said.
MCLA is also where she met her husband, Brendan Peltier ’15, a public policy and political science major who was her orientation leader. After receiving his master’s in public administration from Framingham State College, he is now the employer partnerships manager, as well as the associate men's and women's cross country coach, at Emerson College in Boston.
Kadell-Peltier said one of the things she acknowledges now is that the liberal arts education she received at MCLA is applicable to everything she does. “As an 18-year-old, you’re not realizing it,” she said, “but there truly is no limit to the education you’re getting at MCLA.” From Alternative Spring Break in Belize where she mixed cement by hand to help a village build a community center, to her travels in Ireland, and a trip to Canada for Model UN, her experiences at the College have made her “an active member of our global society.”
“MCLA is tucked away in the hills of the Berkshires,” she said, “but you can explore so much of what our world has to offer.”
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