When third-year electrical engineering student Bryan Sison transferred to SUNY New Paltz a semester ago he knew two people: his roommate and another friend of his from his previous school, Rockland County Community College.
Now, Sison has built a community for himself by creating the Instagram page @studentsofnewpaltz. Modeled after the viral Humans of New York, Sison features a picture of a person and their story, some of them inspiring, kind and speaking true to the American college student experience.
What started as a new page in February has now increased to over 500 followers, featuring various students of different backgrounds, ethnicities and perspectives.
“I created the page to meet new people, make new friends and get to know everyone,” Sison said.
Through the page, Sison created the opportunity to get to know students on campus on a deeper level, such as learning about their personal mishaps and goals.
Although there is the page @humansofnewpaltz, which features several stories by students, it also displays general New Paltz scenery. MBA student Kevin Mui has run the page since Fall of 2017, and feels that his page is different from Sison’s professional photographs featuring only students.
“I saw how beautiful this campus was and wanted to continue this idea but instead of just posting people, I would also post pictures of sunsets or something,” Mui said.
Unlike Humans of New York or @humansofnewpaltz, Sison does not chat up people on campus randomly, he selects possible people to post through his explorer page or looks at Instagram profiles of friends to discover new people. He later schedules a meeting in which he brings a set of general questions and his beloved camera.
Sison’s passion for photography sparked recently in December, 2017 when he saw his brother’s professional camera. When he finally made time to take pictures, “I couldn’t stop,” Sison said.
“As a transfer student, it’s hard to make new friends so this page was made to interact and meet cool people,” Sison said. “Everyone here is really open and easy to communicate with, it proved to be a great choice.”
Sison is not a stranger to being the new kid. Born in the Philippines and migrating to the States at 11, Sison has lived and moved throughout New Jersey and New York, but he chose New Paltz due to its natural landscape and easy access to New York City.
The page was created in February and so far has 10 posts. Sison decides to post every single person he speaks to and photographs, since everyone’s story has been insightful and special on their own. For now, he only wishes to continue meeting new people to feature on his page.
“I want to bring people together, to share their stories in order to communicate and bond. A lot of the students have very unique lifestyles, we can all learn something about one another,” Sison said.