Aliza Deen loves anime, so when her English professor suggested making it the focus of a joint project, she jumped right in.
“My friend Melissa Mounier ’20 and I analyzed the portrayal of femininity in anime,” Aliza says. “Our project was important to us because anime often portrays women as hyper-sexualized.” The students’ research revealed, however, that the magical girl genre, in which female protagonists can transform into magical beings, is an exception to the rule. “Girls fight battles without the help of men and make changes themselves, giving a much more positive image of women to anime’s large young female audience,” Aliza explains.
While her plan is to become a social worker—Aliza just began the NYU Silver MSW program at St. Thomas Aquinas College—she is an honor student and has added a double major in English to her Psychology studies because she loves reading and writing. “Being an English major is incredibly fun but also practical,” she says. “You learn to look not only at literature critically but also things in everyday life.”
When she’s not reading or playing video games, the self-described “Pokemon nerd” manages three freshwater aquariums at home ranging in size from 46 gallons to 3.5 gallons. This hobby began when her family lived in an apartment that didn’t allow any pets—except fish. Aliza has since learned a good deal about different species, thanks to a summer job at PetSmart, and her tanks include Bolivian Ram cichlids and two German Blue Ran cichlids, aggressive fish that provide daily entertainment for her cat Carla.
For her psychology practicum last semester, Aliza volunteered at a senior center and the experience was rewarding. “I got to know the seniors and the center leaders and I ended up having a lot of fun meeting with the seniors every week and playing ping pong with them and watching them play card games. You learn a lot when you sit down with them.”
One of Aliza’s best memories of her time at STAC was visiting The University of Oxford with other members of the honors class last summer. She took a Shakespeare class and enjoyed seeing Measure for Measure and As You Like It at the theater, experiences that gave her a new appreciation of plays. She also learned what a punt is and had fun floating in one down the river. “Returning to Oxford is high on my travel list right next to visiting Tokyo,” Aliza says, adding that she also enjoys traveling to see her family in the Philippines.
For her career, Aliza wants to be a school social worker. “During high school, I realized the importance of having support while attending school,” she says. “There were many students with problems that weren’t being attended to, even after they reached out. I felt inspired to be someone that reached out to them instead.”