Alumni: 84,000   Students: 17,000

Kristen Holler ’13

Kristen Holler

Kristen Holler ’13
Executive Director
Albany Barn, Inc.

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I left a private school after deciding I no longer wanted to pursue engineering/science. I had changed my major several times, and after leaving my private university I spent a semester in community college doing general education classes I knew I’d need to complete my degree at a SUNY school. I was working a lot, and had many volunteer commitments that were important to me, so I decided to find a program that could work with my life and let me complete my degree without interrupting it. What I found at Empire was so much more than I could have expected. In my opinion, one of the best things about the college is the ability to fully customize your degree plan in order to learn the material that not only interests you, but will move you along your path to personal and career growth. I was able to, within the Community and Human Services area of study, delve into not-for-profit management, and specifically issues related to human resources development, which was my primary interest. I found my primary mentor and course mentors to be very engaged with the course material and with my academic, personal, and professional success! I can’t say enough positive things about my experience at Empire!

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY Empire really helped me to unpack and sift through my work experience, personal and professional interests, and highly varied academic experience to figure out how to use all of it towards my professional goals. I was able to explore topics related to my professional pursuits from day 1, which was a nice change from the traditional college model in which you invest two years in general education requirements before you really get a sense of what the true day-to-day of your area of study and potential career fields might look like. This was a mistake I did not intend to repeat after learning – a bit late – that I did not want a career in engineering or science.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
The proudest moment in my career thus far was being able to welcome everyone to the grand opening of The Barn – a creative arts incubator and artist residency program operated by the non-profit I began volunteering/interning with before making the decision to leave my private engineering school. When we opened, I had been working on the project for more than 8 years, and it was an incredible accomplishment to have shown my closest friends and family what hard work and dedication could produce.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Be as involved as you can, and make as many connections as you can! I am more involved now as an alumna and spouse of a current student, than I was as a student! I wish I had taken advantage of the Student Academic Conference and other great offerings. At the time I didn’t realize the value, but now having been involved as a presenter and a participant I can see the impact of taking the time to come together with other students, even if you (like me) never have a traditional “classmate” during your tenure at Empire.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I give because SUNY Empire has allowed me to acquire the tools and build the network I need to be successful in my career, and I want to ensure others have the opportunity to do the same.