Allison Paster-Torres ’10
I grew up between Philly and South Jersey. Both my parents were musicians, but I lived with just my mom. My mom was a jazz vocalist. She now works in a library in addition to picking up singing jobs as often as she can.
She and my father played in a band together when they first met (he played keyboard), and they would tour and play all different nightclubs and bars around the country. Once they had kids, that wasn’t feasible anymore, so we settled into a rowhome in Philadelphia. When my parents separated, my mother, brother, and I moved over to South Jersey. My mom worked a series of odd jobs (retail, secretarial, aid in a nursing home) and the occasional singing job (things like weddings and events instead of bars and clubs). My dad worked at a used car lot and still played with a band sometimes, and was still very much a part of my and my brother’s lives, contributing financially and spending lots of time with us until he passed away when I was 16.
At Cornell, I studied English and psychology. I had a handful of professors whom I loved and could not get enough of their classes. On a personal level, Erin Davis’ sexuality class was life-changing for me in the way it helped me to look at all of the things we accept as normal on a societal level, and then to question those things and figure out which ones I actually wanted in my life and which ones I only had in my life because I thought it was the only option. I wound up breaking up with my fiancé by the end of that block. I only wish I could have taken that class immediately upon entering Cornell.
On a more professional level, the most influential class I had was Poetry Writing with Glenn Freeman. This was the class that reminded me that I wanted to be a writer since before I could hold a pen. I started to yearn for that again, and to think that it could realistically be more than a hobby. Though I had to take a few years to work full-time after graduating from Cornell, I feel like I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be now. I live in Upstate New York and I’m in a master’s of fine arts program for creative writing.
Cornell changes everything. Most importantly, it changed the way I look at the world and the sort of person I want to be and want to be with. It taught me how to proudly pursue unconventional goals without feeling like I have to justify myself to everyone.