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Gabelli100 Interviews | Jan 16, 2020 |

Student Spotlight: Alexa Cucchiara’s Power to Persevere

In retelling the story of the struggle for her life, Alexa Cucchiara became her own brand manager, public relations agent, and publicist.

When Alexa Cucchiara BS ’20 was diagnosed with cancer at a very young age, she decided to fight. At the age of 19, doctors told Cucchiara she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma and would have to begin chemotherapy for four months.

Determined to find purpose and share her self-reflection with the world, Cucchiara is now in remission and has recently published a book, Power to Persevere: Inspiring Stories to Help You Get Through Challenging Moments.

Cucchiara’s goal is to show others they aren’t alone when it comes to facing hard times. Power to Persevere is her way of offering the world an inspirational guide that she wished she had had during her treatment.

She shares more about her journey and the motivation behind the book in her interview below.

What was the motivation for your book?

I initially wanted to write the book I wish I’d read while I was going through my fight for life. I wished I had something relatable and raw. This is what essentially motivated me to write. This is my gift of inspiration to anyone who feels alone or stuck.

I often believed cancer was sure to be the end of me when it was my daily battle. As a survivor, I now know this was not the case. For as long as I have the privilege of life, I will continue to face hardships. I now know that I can pull from within to overcome any hurdle.

How did you approach your book?

I always knew that I wanted to share my story. Something within me kept telling me to express my thoughts onto paper and write. I held the idea of writing a book close to me, but I did not think so much of being an “author” until my manuscript was set and done. This is when reality hit me.

Before its publication, I kept meeting young adults who had written books and thought of the limitless possibilities I also had. “If they could do it, I can do it too,” I thought. Nothing could stop me, but the next step was to figure out how I was going to turn this dream into reality.

It was not until I met a recent graduate, Haley, from Brown University, at a collaborative event the Entrepreneurship Society at Fordham had with Columbia University’s Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs (CORE). I told her my story and she immediately linked me to her publisher she worked with. Without hesitation, I took this as an opportunity and embarked on my dream venture. 

How does The Gabelli School’s Jesuit values relate to your own?

Since coming to Fordham, I have seen the importance of homines pro aliis, “men and women for others.” This is a pillar that constitutes meaning to me as a cancer survivor. We need to be reminded that we are all one; we are more connected to each other than we can ever imagine – even when we feel alone.

Because of my unique experience at such a young age, I understand the complexity of life and I try to foster compassion and encouragement within the Gabelli School community. I have seen how my advisors and professors have helped me soar, and have been inspired to mirror their grace.

Whether it is in class, or at conferences and board meetings, I have tried to take a larger step in being a woman for others by impacting my peers through kindness.

How has your business education at The Gabelli School helped your strategy behind publishing your book?

Throughout the process, I learned how to become my own brand manager, public relations agent, and publicist. As a marketing student, I’ve developed a great understanding of how to develop relationships and create engagement with customers.

My professor in my integrated marketing communication class has really helped me understand how important it is to create individualized relationships with my targeted audience and develop consumer insight. I make sure to keep my followers on social media, such as Instagram and LinkedIn, in the loop with my process. I pay close attention to how they respond to and engage in my posts, and I update and interact with them as much as possible. I create polls, ask for feedback, and offer exclusive previews of my work.

What advice do you have for anyone who is going through a difficult time in life?

What we need to do is recognize that our struggles are opportunities for us to grow in strength, develop faith, and become resilient. Just like I write in my book, “We must keep our heads high, stay positive, move forward, and roll with the punches.”

We need to trust our battles and struggles and know that we are more than our traumas. We have the power within us to persevere.

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