An Interview With Oneonta Alumni, Graham Meglino

Harvard Health

Riley Peru, Sports Editor

On April 1st, 2024 alumni Graham Meglino returned to Oneonta to attend an alumni panel for student athletes on campus. This time, he would be the one presenting. Graduating in May of 2021, he has now become a professional public speaker whose goal is to reach every university in New York state to bring plant-based nutrition habits to students statewide. His goal is to show students how simple it is to start living off a plant based diet. Before the alumni panel, I got the chance to meet with Graham and ask him a couple questions regarding his project and what goals he has for the future.

How was your experience at Oneonta? Did you ever imagine coming back to present to students?

“Not necessarily so when I first came to Oneonta I was not super involved at all and my freshman year was not that great for that reason. I left school after my freshman year with no intention of coming back. Taking that time off, it allowed me to reflect and figure out what it is I was looking to do. I realized that all my friends were at college, and at that point in my life college and being away from home was the best thing for me. I enrolled back into Oneonta. I became involved in anything I could get my hands on, so I started to build up my resume. It made me love this campus that much more. It was amazing.”

What were you involved in at SUNY Oneonta?

“I started with my Hall Government, it’s a building block to bigger things. I also became a New Student orientation leader (Dragon Guide), and later became an RA. I was actually one of the few people on campus who was both a Dragon Guide and an RA. I also was a teaching assistant for one of my professors.”

Have you always had a passion for public speaking?

“It’s always kind of been there. Freshman year, I had a public speaking teacher who was a great teacher and mentor. I think he saw something in me that made me want to do better and be better and kind of develop that skill. I gave a really bad speech about plant based nutrition, like a really bad speech about Veganism. My professor pulled me aside after and was like ‘Hey, Graham, like I think you know you didn’t do too great on that one. But I am expecting big things from you for the next one.’ That kind of sparked something in me.”

Was it easy for you to switch to a plant based diet?

“No, it was really tough. It was really tough because my diet was really bad. I was eating oats and peanut butter every day because that’s what I thought a healthy diet entailed. That’s why I am here is because I wish I had someone who could speak to the past version of myself and be able to help them with the problems that I was struggling with.”

What benefits have you noticed from the switch to a plant-based diet?

“So I was a former athlete, and when I was playing sports competitively. I was always frustrated because I was never a consistent athlete. There were some days where I was really on it and some days where I wasn’t and I couldn’t crack that code. I was frustrated by the nutrition part, I would either not eat before the games or I would eat too much. That’s when it became real to me. Once I switched I had more energy during games and my knee, which I had injured previously, had felt better because of it.”

What do you hope students will gain from this knowledge? What is one big take away?

“The more color on your plate, the more fuel in your tank. It doesn’t have to be hard. Incorporate more colors, more whole foods, more foods in their natural form and that’s all you need to do. If you can do that you’re on the right path of getting more health and more energy in your life.”

To keep up with Graham and everything he is up to, this is his link tree!

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