Alumni: 78,000   Students: 18,000

Alumni Testimonials

“You don’t know me, but you know my story.” With 78,000 alumni worldwide, everyone has a unique story to tell, but all can relate to the exceptional non-traditional educational experience they received at SUNY Empire.

If you would like to share your story with our alumni and students, please click here to provide your testimonial.

Paul Antonellis ’00, ’03

Paul Antonellis ’00, ’03
Faculty & Director of Undergraduate Business Programs
Granite State College

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose distance learning as a full-time Fire Chief at SUNY Empire because the college provided me the flexibility to earn my degree while continuing my career. Everyone in the program were adults with careers similar to what I was doing which really helped enhance my experience. I decided to go back and get my masters in Labor in Policy Studies after retiring from my career in fire services. After graduating with my masters I was hired by Empire to teach Fire Science and then Labor Relations courses. I am proud to say that I was able to teach with SUNY Empire for 10 years and that it catapulted my teaching career.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
The people that I met along the way – whether it was my mentors, fellow students etc. became my personal and professional network. What I learned through professional development, really translated well into all avenues of my life – fire service, teaching career, expanding personal networks etc. I also went on to complete my doctorate degree with Capella University, it was rigorous but completely worth it in the end. Being a two time alumnus and a former professor, my experience with non-traditional education at SUNY Empire has really helped me obtain my current position at Granite State College.

What is your new position and what are you most excited about?
My new position as Director of Undergraduate Business Programs is exciting because it is going to be an ever-evolving position. I will be overseeing six concentrations at 8 ‘on the ground’ locations in addition to the hybrid and online instruction. I take great pride in my curriculum mapping and am most excited to bring that to Granite State College. I am also excited about getting back to my roots and teaching online courses.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
My recommendation to any student would be to gain as much knowledge and build your network as you go along. The time you spend in the program will fly by – but make sure you connect with those contacts for professional and personal growth.

D. Jeremy DeMar ’14

D. Jeremy DeMar ’14
9-1-1 Supervisor
City of Rochester – Emergency Communications Department

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
As the old saying goes, “not enough hours in the day”. This was absolutely the case for me when I began researching prospective Bachelors programs. As a husband, father of three, and full time employee, physically attending classes to complete my undergraduate degree was never an option. The online academic offerings available through SUNY ESC’s Center for Distance Learning and mentors who are subject matter experts in their respective fields made choosing Empire State College an easy decision.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I knew I wanted to study Emergency Management, however the large number of discipline specific classes available through SUNY ESC made course selection and academic program design a bit challenging. My ESC mentor spent a great deal of time learning about my professional background and personal interests. Using this information, he worked closely with me to develop a customized academic program tailored specifically to my needs.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Helping to grow the Telecommunicator Emergency Response Taskforce (TERT) in New York by providing targeted instruction at 9-1-1 Center’s throughout the state. My work at the state level ultimately led to my being appointed co-chair of the National Joint TERT Initiative, LLC, overseeing and promoting TERT activity in all 50 states.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Stick with it. If your schedule only permits you to take two classes a semester, enroll in two classes. Before you know it, you’ll be walking across the stage on graduation day wondering where the time went.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I think a large number of professionals believe higher education is out of reach simply because of the time commitment. I’ve volunteered to mentor new and prospective ESC students and to speak at ESC events because I want those who don’t believe they’ll be able to succeed to hear from someone who did graduate, while challenged by similar personal and professional obligations.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Lifelong learning is critical in any profession. If you’ve been considering college, whether it be to complete an undergraduate degree or to participate in postgraduate studies, now is the time.

Queva Pizarro

Queva Pizarro
Navy and Army National Guard Veteran
Student, Business Management & Economics

How did you find out about Empire State College?
While serving on active duty in the Navy, I was assigned to Navy Recruiting District New York’s Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) in Brooklyn, NY. While serving as a job classifier there, I worked alongside civilian contractors, many of whom I became friends with, and who told me about their experiences with SUNY Empire while pursuing their degrees. As they had nothing but positive and fond feedback for ESC, I began to conduct my own research online and found that ESC offered quite a few courses and programs, some that I was interested in. What made ESC more desirable was that they were considered to be veteran friendly…a plus for me! From that point on, I consulted my Command Education Office and registered for an individual course to obtain my own learning experience, which I’m glad I did.

Which aspects of Empire’s format work well for you?
ESC offers an array of academics and formal communication among staff and facilitators there to ensure you get all that you set out to pursue, without any chance of failure. The way that ESC has open channels of communication is what works the best for me, while I endure the college experience. ESC’s academic format creates a welcoming experience, which helps me to engage in higher education without certain stress factors. I also enjoy how ESC is veteran-friendly, offering assistance to transfer career-orientated and military training credits toward the degree plan of my choice. I enjoy the convenience of the online courses provided and their flexible study schedules which many courses allow. It helps alleviate time constraints and allows me to enjoy the learning experience more comfortably while I manage my time.

If you have a job, how is your degree at Empire helping you in your career?
I recently was honorably discharged from the Army National Guard and have decided to take this time to focus on my family and higher-education opportunities. As I am pursuing a bachelor’s in Business Management and Economics, with a concentration in human resource management, such a degree will open doors towards an Officer Leadership Program that I plan to apply for while rejoining the Army National Guard after graduation. The studies in which I have chosen under my degree plan will allow me to obtain the knowledge and tools to become a successful leader and manager within the military and any organization thereafter.

Is there anything you’d like to share about your military service?
I am a military veteran of 18 years in total, I served 14 years on active duty with the Navy and 4 years with the Army National Guard. I received numerous awards and been through an array of military education and training.  Because of such training and experiences in certain job fields within which I have worked while serving in both branches, I have obtained many skills that I feel can help myself while engaging with others outside of the military if I chose to pursue in the near future. I’ve learned to work with others in a team environment and have been assigned as a mentor and placed in leadership positions throughout my career. Because of the opportunities and accomplishments provided through the military, I have become a more aligned and goal-orientated person. I am proud to have been part of such an elite organization while serving my country.

Is there anything else you want to highlight?
I’m not only a veteran, I am also a wife and a full-time mother of three precious toddlers, ages 3, 4  and 6. As busy as it can get to maintain a household and care for children of such young ages, I still find the time to pursue a higher education to better my chances at more advanced job opportunities for my family’s future and to set a positive example for my children. While taking a full load with ESC (three 4-credit courses each semester), I have taken it a step further and attend on-campus courses each semester at a local college here in the Houston, Texas area. On top of my studies with ESC, I also take one extra course of study each semester with San Jacinto College, while fulfilling my approved degree plan. I have chosen to take both online and face-to-face courses to get the full college experience with a bit of social interaction. By doing so, I have been recognized by San Jacinto College for my academic standing of holding a GPA of 3.8 and higher and have recently been selected and inducted into the National Society of Leadership and Success, San Jacinto chapter. Along with such an honor, San Jacinto College has nominated me as an honors student and I have recently been selected and am now a member of the National Honor Society Organization. Becoming a member of such honorable organizations and to be awarded a $1,000 academic scholarship from the CCME, I am humbly grateful for the opportunities which have motivated me to give 100 percent to all that I set out to do.

Corey Rooker ’16

Corey Rooker ’16
Transportation Supervisor
Port Byron Central School

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
SUNY Empire offered me the best opportunity for a customizable degree while taking advantage of my life experience in Prior Learning Assessments.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY Empire helped me realize my lifelong goal of earning my Associate Degree and ended up earning my Bachelors as well. My degrees now solidify me in my career.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Having the opportunity to work at my alma mater as the Transportation Supervisor where I also oversee Health and Safety and Facilities Management.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Dedicate the time to be successful in your studies and take advantage of Prior Learning Assessment’s for financial reasons as well as speeding up the degree process.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow students and alumni?
Mine was a unique path and when I was younger I jumped from job to job including graduating from National Tractor Trailer School in the Spring of 1998. I never did drive tractor trailer but the training there lead me into the school transportation business as a bus driver in the fall of 1998 and then moving on as a bus mechanic at Weedsport Central School from 2000-2012, before accepting my current position at Port Byron. Life takes lots of turns and the degree I just completed was what I started out to do almost 25 years ago so you never know what life has to offer but hard work and determination pay off!

Cynthia Wandursky-Sciacca ’87

Cynthia Wandursky-Sciacca ’87
Retired

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
It was the mid 80’s and I was working for a major company and wanted to get ahead. I had a few college credits that I had garnered here and there and in a variety of subjects. I also had vocational school credits. Trying to put them together to form a degree at a traditional school was impossible. I was married, had a child and worked full-time. I also worked part-time at SUNY Farmingdale as an adjunct professor teaching a skill, therefore at that time, I didn’t need a degree (how things have changed). At the time, Adelphi had a program which granted credit for prior and experiential learning. However, it was not as generous as Empire State College. Several people had recommended ESC to me. I decided to give it a try. There are so many good things about ESC it is difficult to pick out one. I think it has to be the mentors. They really wanted to help me learn and help improve my outlook on life. I am sure some are better than others, but overall my mentors were just that, mentors. Rather than teaching me by rote, they encouraged me to broaden my horizons. To become more knowledgeable and to think rather than just react.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
As I mentioned above, the mentors guided me. They taught me as much about how to learn and expand my horizons, as they did the subject matter. They also taught me to have confidence in myself. I was also able to encourage and assist my friends and coworkers as they went to ESC. Eleven years after I graduated from ESC, I graduated from the Palmer School of Library Science at LIU.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Working as a librarian at the Longwood Public Library was the highlight of my career. I was able to use all my varied skills and education to serve the public.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
This is not a school for everyone. You have to want to learn and become a better person. No one is going to make you do the work. You have to want to do it. However, the mentors will guide you as you move along and will have open exchanges with you. They are very flexible and will work with you to accomplish your goals. I even went back as a post-graduate student to study with a friend who was feeling insecure about a topic she needed to study to finish her degree. The mentor said it was unusual, but was willing to give it a try and it worked out for both of us.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
ESC was a life saver for me. It gave me a better sense of self-worth that I wasn’t getting from the work-place. The learning worked into my schedule. I want the school to be here in the future for others who are in the same predicament that I was.

Chuck Braman ’99

Chuck Braman ’99
Bandleader
Self-Employed

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I’m basically a life-long autodidact. I generally learn best on my own, and like to learn continuously. SUNY Empire provided the best possible environment for a learner like me. I was able to contract some of the intellectuals I most admire as my personal instructors, and structure an ideal course of study with them. In addition, at the time I enrolled, I had already accumulated a large amount of valuable life experience, most of which I was able to put towards my degree.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
At Empire I was able to design a curriculum that included personal interests such as philosophy and economics along, with professional skill sets such as graphic design. So I was able to achieve both personal and professional growth to a degree that wouldn’t have been possible at most other colleges.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
There are too many to list, but a recent highlight was for my self-designed website, https://www.newyorkjazzbands.com, to be chosen by Adobe as an Adobe Muse Site of the Day.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Choose a college like Empire when you already have achieved a high enough level of knowledge and self-understanding as to be able to intelligently help design your own curriculum.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I appreciate the opportunity Empire gave me to realize my educational ideals.

Mark Spawn ’07

Mark Spawn ’07
CEO
The Spawn Group, LLC

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
SUNY Empire evaluated my professional and life experiences for credit, and offered me the flexibility to complete courses for my degree program. For anyone holding a full time job while continuing their education, the ability to work at your own pace with professors and advisors to assist you as needed was a plus.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I attended an orientation meeting which helped me to better understand distance learning, CBE and the services of SUNY Empire. Most notably for me, one of my advisors identified some strengths in my background which helped me in receiving credit for the knowledge that I had overlooked.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I love being able to help people, and a career in law enforcement has given me that opportunity. It has been an honor to help people, especially those who are desperate, hurt, or troubled. It has also been a privilege to help to train the next generation of law enforcement. Sharing information, advising, and guiding colleagues has also been rewarding.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
The faculty and staff at SUNY Empire are there to help. If you have a question or concern – just ask.

Diana Rishani ’10

Diana Rishani ’10
Teacher
American Community School at Beirut

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose ESC because I could use my years of experience towards credits. It allowed me the opportunity to study on my own time, especially while I was working and studying at the same time. I had a lot of support from the professors who were conducting the courses.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
As I designed my diploma I had a lot of guidance from my mentor Ms. Patricia Torcivia. She was instrumental in helping me figure out what would be the best course for me to follow.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Since I have become a teacher, I have many of my colleagues come to me to help them with planning and management.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
There are times when one might feel overwhelmed with a deadline. My advice is: don’t give up, contact your professor and they will help you by either extending your deadlines or giving you advice on how to organize your work.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I feel so grateful to SUNY for giving me the opportunity to earn my degree. It would have never been possible in my part of the world.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
SUNY Empire has given me the chance to make my dream come true. I hope that each and everyone who dreams of getting a college degree would get the chance to enroll at SUNY Empire or any college that offers long distance studies.

Vilma Denisia ’15

Vilma Denisia ’15
Tenant Coordinator
The Port Authority of NY & NJ

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
SUNY Empire afforded me the opportunity to advance my degree while focusing on concentration courses and using life learned knowledge. My mentor was dedicated and proactive in helping me design a learning program customized to my needs. The courses were academically leading, modern and comparable to those of leading colleges.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Obtaining a BS in Political Science got me a promotion to a management position and salary increase. It has given me the opportunity to create new relationships, enjoy project management tasks, participate in decision making endeavors and continue to grow professionally.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Obtaining my current position equivalent to an Engineer or Architect. My strong background and newly achieved degree played a strong part.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
To focus on the concentration. Work closely with your mentor and use the online library available in MyESC. This is a very useful and awesome tool with tons of information to assist in writing and research.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I owe my professional success to their academia.

David DiSanto ’09

David DiSanto ’09
Assistant Fire Management Officer
United States Forest Service

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Learning from very experienced and culturally diverse firefighting and emergency service personnel with national and international experience.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Gave me the necessary education and experience to work in a field where coordination and cooperation with multiple resources is demanding. I obtained a promotion and work in high stress environments with multiple agencies both nationally and internationally.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Being able to take fire crews on fires nationally and internationally and pass on wild-land fire fighting skills to younger folks that may have not had such a great childhood so they are looking for a technical job that is both mentally and physically demanding.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Never give up. Take courses from ESC, they will pay off! It is an incredibly great feeling of success. Not easy by any means, but very satisfying.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
The amazing career field I have been able to have.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
ESC has such a variety of majors and instructors that have such amazing experience. There were so many students and instructors that understood me and had a similar background which made for such a great learning experience. I have to admit I was very skeptical and did not think anyone would understand what I did. ESC has way more to offer in emergency services and natural sciences than any other college.

David Riegert ’10

David Riegert ’10
Developmental Assistant
New York State

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Flexibility with my work schedule and the great professors.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY Empire gave me great world insight.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Taking New York State civil service exams and interviews.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Never give up.

Shannon Dankert ’14

Shannon Dankert ’14
Community Service Coordinator
Cortland County Probation

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose SUNY Empire because of its flexibility with my schedule at work, home and my extracurricular activities. The best thing about the college was the one-on-one help I received from my mentor. Being out of school for awhile, it was hard getting back into the swing of things and having him there to help me through it all was the best gift.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Having an associate’s degree and landing a job right out of college made me forget about continuing my education. After working at my current position for 8 years, there was an opportunity for a job promotion in the near future with upcoming retirements and I would not be eligible for it if I did not have a bachelor’s degree. I pursued my options of continuing my education and was able to work with SUNY Empire to meet all areas of need to ensure that I would be eligible for that promotion.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest moment to date is having my then 16 year old daughter see what perseverance and hard-work and dedication really means. She witnessed the countless hours being spent studying, working, maintaining our family dynamics and extra curricular activities. The moment that I was able to walk across that stage to receive my bachelor’s degree, showed her what a good role model is and that she too can achieve whatever it is that she puts her mind too. Good role models are hard to come by in the day of technology and easy access to the world being able to cut a person down for their dreams. It also showed her that she should never let her dreams sit on the back burner and wait until life is just a little more full and hard to work around. It provided a life lesson that the older you get, the harder it is, but if you work that much harder and with passion, all things are possible!

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I would advise anyone who is a current student to utilize their mentors, the program, and the opportunities that arise from SUNY Empire. There is no bad side to this. If anything it will make them a better student, a future leader, and it is okay to ask for help when you need it. All the staff that I had the pleasure of working with only had my best interest in mind, and provided a pathway to make me a better person in the end. They saw my potential and allowed me to be who I was at the same time a more creative person.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I give back to SUNY Empire because it is important for anyone who is looking to better themselves to know that we are ALL here to help! There is some truth in the saying “It takes a village.” I would never have been able to do this on my own and having others before me help me, was the only way I was able to make it through the process. I hope that I one day am able to do the same for someone else.

Margot Stornelli ’04

Margot Stornelli ’04
Library Technician
Dufferin Peel Catholic District School Board

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
My parents encouraged me to return to school when I was home raising children. It was the best decision in my life to choose Empire State College and design my own degree program utilizing all of my previous courses and volunteer experiences. I enjoyed the online learning environment, not having to leave my home to complete the courses. I also mastered online learning environments beyond my comfort zone and continued on to an online masters of library science degree upon graduation from Empire State College.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Unfortunately my job situation did not change upon graduation but I have pursued a variety of volunteer experiences with more confidence.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Enjoy the ride.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
If you need to return to school its a great way to do it without giving up other areas of your life.

Patricia Festa ’14

Patricia Festa ’14
District Treasurer
Auburn Enlarged City Schools

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose SUNY Empire based on comments and referrals from friends. Also, there is an office at our local community college and I stopped in for an information session to see what it was all about. SUNY Empire let me set up my own path and I had an amazing mentor who encouraged me the entire way.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Although a BS or BA degree was not a requirement of my job I knew that if something ever happened I would never be able to do what I do anywhere else without a bachelors degree. It gave me confidence to maybe seek other opportunities knowing I had my degree and many years of experience behind me. I returned to school at 52, after a major life change. My education was never a priority and I not encouraged to achieve a personal goal that I had for many years.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Shortly after receiving my degree, I was contacted by another employer asking me to consider making a move to join them. I was able to secure a verbal deal for much more than I ever thought possible for someone in my position. I am proud to say that once my current employer was faced with me leaving, I was given a matching deal and was able to stay right where I have been for 20 years. Without my degree, I would never have been able to be offered what I received. Although I had the experience, it was my degree that sealed the deal for me.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Don’t give up, even when you think you don’t have the time or strength, keep going. It is the most rewarding feeling when you have accomplished your goal and walk across that stage with that piece of paper and everyone is clapping for you. Only you know that amount of hard work it took to get there. It does not matter your age, gender etc., we all can accomplish and reach the same goal.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
SUNY Empire made it possible for me to achieve a personal goal that waited for many years to be completed. Everyone was kind and helpful and encouraging. Believe me, if I can do it, you can also. I like to let people know what my experience was and it can be theirs also.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I returned to school at 52 and was petrified of the unknown. For me the biggest hurdle turned out to be the easiest and most cathartic, writing papers for prior learning experience. Once I wrote the first one and received positive feedback, I wrote and was evaluated for a majority of my credits. I had been afraid of the unknown. We all have strengths and weaknesses in different areas but everyone I was in contact with assured me that failure was not an option and they will work with you anyway they can to get you to your final goal.

Kristen Holler ’13

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.

Jacqueline Brown ’09

Jacqueline Brown ’09
Management Analyst
Arlington County Government

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose SUNY Empire because my then employer, AARP, offered the program to employees with tuition assistance. On top of that, online learning was appealing because of my work and family schedule. For me, the best thing about the college is the distance learning opportunity and awesome mentors! Susan Oaks, I love her! My one and only mentor from beginning to end, every step of my way until I graduated!

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I enjoy pulling information together to make a lasting statement, so the writing assignments helped polish my writing skills. In my present position, I’m tasked with creating job descriptions, organizing information for reports, including writing resumes in my spare time, so, my college writing skills have been a plus for me! To date, and who knew, I would be working on my autobiography, anticipated short stories and other writing projects for my second career!

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
As a Management Analyst, handling Human Resources, the office budget and purchasing, one of my responsibilities is counseling and coaching staff about the value in using a positive approach to situations. Inside and outside of the office, I practice this approach. When an issue is resolved, a dilemma worked out, it’s a proud moment for me!

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Organization, time management, communication, focus, dedication and perseverance equals success! Hang in there, you can do it!

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I give back to help others. Each one “help” one! I believe with all my heart we are all here to help each other!

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
For alumni, keep being the awesome person you were created to be! For students, follow your heart and let nothing deter you from being the awesome person you were created to be!

Andrew Sinclair ’15

Andrew Sinclair ’15
IT Security Analyst
ActioNet, Inc.

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
The flexibility and study options were important to me. I was a non-traditional student with a full time job and a family. I needed flexibility in order to be successful.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I was able to use my professional experience to obtain credit toward my degree. I already have a career so I didn’t need direction there, just in being able to apply all of the experiences and knowledge including professional certifications toward a formal degree plan.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest moment to date was receiving my BS from SUNY Empire. It was an achievement I never thought I would accomplish. As far as my career, my proudest moments have always been being able to take on tough challenges. My last one was walking into a company with a crumbling IT infrastructure, fixing it and watching the company grow because of it.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Never give up.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Thank you to the faculty and to the students, remember that all you need to succeed is already within you. You just need to unlock it.

Ana Rivera-Georgescu ’08

Ana Rivera-Georgescu ’08
Protestant Chaplain
New York State Department of Corrections & Community Supervision

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose SUNY Empire because it offered me the flexibility to take care of my family, work and go to school. Distance learning is great for those who need to be present for family and work and desire to further their education.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY Empire certainly prepares its students well. The course work that was offered was challenging and very interesting. The professors and mentors were always available and helpful. They offered much guidance, support and encouragement. Their professionalism was also a great example. They assisted me in examining my work experiences, my education and my professional goals. In doing this, they helped me to develop educational goals which would assist me in take steps toward my future aspirations.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I believe that my career highlight is not only being Ordained as a Priest in the Episcopal Church, but also becoming the first female Chaplain in the history of NYS DOCCS Clinton Correctional Facility. Without all that I had learned at SUNY Empire and attaining my degree, I would not have been able to achieve this. ESC truly equips you to face the challenges you will confront in your vocation. They prepare you well to enter the work force and succeed.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
My advice to current SUNY Empire students is to enjoy the journey. Listen to your mentors. They are experienced and are there to guide you. Learn, read, ask questions and explore. This is your time to prepare for the future that awaits you.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
SUNY Empire is great and I want others to take advantage of this great institution of higher learning.

Rami Bou Khalil ‘03

Rami Bou Khalil ’03
Operations Manager
Boukhalil Societe Moderne S.A.L.

What is the name of the company where you are working and your job title?
Currently I am handling the operations at Boukhalil Societé Moderne S.A.L., a national retail supermarket chain. My job title is Operations Manager.

How did your Empire State College degree help you to achieve where you are?
Achieving a BS in marketing with ESC was a stepping stone to enter the field of retail. The added value of this degree is the one to one mentoring and day to day observation, as a student I was asking many questions and getting many realistic and applicable answers.

What advice would you give to current students that you wish you had known when you were enrolled?
If I could go back in time I would ask more questions, go deeper and spend more time with my mentors in every residency to learn more. I would also utilize the online area to chat more with them as well as the online library.

Hani El Abed ‘05

Hani El Abed ‘05
Digital Marketing Manager
United Arab Bank

What is the name of the company where you are working and your job title?
I work for United Arab Bank as the Digital Marketing Manager mainly managing the bank’s digital strategy and marketing campaigns with assets such as the website, intranet, social media, emails and SMS.

How did your Empire State College degree help you to achieve where you are?
First, ESC gave me the edge over my peers upon graduation with having a degree from an international reputed college from the states. Second, the knowledge of advanced computer languages and research skills I gained enabled me to successfully face 12 years of career challenges.

What advice would you give to current students that you wish you had known when you were enrolled?
My advice to current students is: “Everything you have learned since birth will become complete with this last academic phase, so take advantage of it to the fullest to ensure a greater future, don’t waste it so that you don’t waste your chance to lead.”

Paul Najm ’16

Paul Najm ’16
Business Development Officer
Grappa Systems

What is the name of the company where you are working and your job title?
I am a Business Development Officer at Grappa Systems (software development company specialized in IPTV) experienced in all aspects of sales and B2B marketing, networking, presentations and communication as well as account management.

How did your Empire State College degree help you to achieve where you are?
My marketing degree has prepared me and given me the knowledge and skills for the job market, and to succeed in my future career. Other than academic learning, I have also developed critical thinking and problem solving skills through their intensive live seminars in Lebanon, and I was exposed to a multi-cultural community which exchanged thoughts, ideas, and knowledge.

What advice would you give to current students that you wish you had known when you were enrolled?
The best advice I can give to future graduates is to put all their energy and do the best they can, never miss an opportunity that comes their way, never give up no matter how severe their failure was, and life after graduation isn’t a peach (like lots of young adults think). Good things take time to come, so plan your next step in your final academic year and don’t let anything bring you down or break your spirit even if you couldn’t get what you wanted right away. Perseverance, stubbornness, and vision is what keeps you going, so never settle for anything less than what you asked for.

Robert Arnold De Jesus ’12

Robert Arnold De Jesus ’12
Director of Finance
Cooper Hotel Investors LLC, Sheraton La Guardia East Hotel

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
It was the best option to complete my bachelor of science degree in Business Management & Economics in the U.S., since I had already completed sufficient general education & business/accounting-concentrated credits from one of the top business schools in Manila, San Beda College. The best thing about the college is its state-of-the-art technology, reflective of educational trends of the millennium. It is both competitive & flexible, especially for working students.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
The college sorted my background, life-work priorities, and then assisted me in setting the direction I wanted to take.  My mentor was very helpful, esp. during the negotiation process of my previous foreign college credits initially assessed by World Education Services and my work history within the hotel and restaurant industry. SUNY-ESC gave me the flexibility and the tools I need as I was climbing the corporate ladder and maintain leadership roles serving high-volume corporations with the ever-changing regulations and business environments.  I’ve worked for The Carlyle Hotel in Manhattan for more than 8 years, The Gotham City Group for over 3 years, and now with The Sheraton La Guardia East Hotel.  I enjoy contributing my expertise. I also own a small business serving a few enterprises in New York City.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Longevity. I believe that I wouldn’t be working long enough in one organization if I hadn’t been doing something right.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Positive Attitude. If you possess it, you’ll go far…

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Because I believe in the intangible value it provides its students.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Never end your quest in learning. The sea never stops its waves.

David Ronis ’08

David Ronis ’08
Karen K. Bishop Chair, Assistant Professor, Director of Opera
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
After receiving my bachelors degree in classical voice and working as a professional singer and actor for over 25 years, I started transitioning to teaching. In 2006, I had begun an adjunct job at Queens College/CUNY and, looking forward, I knew that if I wanted to continue teaching at the university level, I’d need at least a masters degree. The interdisciplinary, design-your-own-course-of-study M.A.L.S. (Liberal Studies) at Empire State College was a good fit for me. It allowed me to be in school while continuing to work – both teaching and performing. It also presented a terrific opportunity to address theoretical and practical issues and questions I’d always had with regard to my craft.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Earning my masters at Empire was one of the most challenging things I’ve undertaken and also one of the most valuable. My teaching career has progressed nicely and I regularly draw upon my studies at Empire to inform my work with my own students. What’s more, my course of study at Empire gave me a good background to meet the particular demands of academia.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I’ve been very fortunate, first as a performer, and now as an educator. Highlights of my performance career include working at La Scala, Milan, the Vienna State Opera, Opera de Nice and all over the U.S., as well as performing in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” As a teacher/opera director, I’ve had six productions that have won National Opera Association Awards and, just this past September (2016), I became the inaugural Karen K. Bishop Director of Opera at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I feel that I can most effectively speak to those in similar situations to the one in which I found myself 10 years ago. Completing the M.A.L.S. at Empire was difficult for me – it was very stressful to balance the rest of my life with my research/study/writing. I’d encourage those in similar positions to cultivate a good sense of self-examination as well as to take advantage of the advisors at Empire- both of these resources will help guide you.

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
I’m very proud of the work I did on my masters degree. My mentors and advisors, as well as Empire administrators, were very generous with their time and support. SUNY Empire invested in me and I am happy to give back.

Jean Hachem ’05

Jean Hachem ’05
Owner
JgH-Architects

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
When I first enrolled at Empire State College, I had the time to juggle my work, studies and personal life. The flexibility of courses and schedule allowed me to maintain my work and focus on my studies most of the time. Empire State College is a unique experience for all working students.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It really helped to boost my self-motivation and self-learning skills because of all the research related to my courses and assignments.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
As a managing director and owner for JgH – Architects, I had to compete with larger and more well known interior architecture offices in a small Lebanese market niche. When you have the strong will and persistence, however, you reach your goals and become known as the company that can be distinguished from others through its simplicity and creativity in designs.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Enjoy all aspects of learning and you will profit the most from the very professional experience and well committed professors.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
As an international alumnus I was able to visit the campus location in Saratoga Springs this fall. I recommend that this is a must visit for all students and alumni if you have not already been.

Paulette Lawrence ’16

Paulette Lawrence ’16
Senior Customer Service Representative
Visiting Nurse Service of New York

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State College because as a single parent it offered me the flexibility to go school and continue to work full-time. The best part about Empire State College is that each student is matched with a mentor who is there for the student from the beginning up until the end of completing the degree requirements. Mentors and students have open dialogue regarding which classes to choose that will align with one’s career or degree path.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
The college shaped my personal and professional goals in the sense that I have become a better communicator. I now understand the importance of being a good listener and an effective problem solver. At SUNY Empire we did a lot of group discussions and those sessions have helped me to be better at public speaking.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I received a promotion at work while I was attending SUNY Empire.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Please communicate with your mentor and take your mentor’s advice at all times. Always stay focused.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I give back because it is possible to achieve and complete your degree requirements at SUNY Empire. I received scholarships while I was a student, which help deferred the cost of college.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Empire State College is a great college to attend. It is important to be actively involve with other aspect of the college beside the academy.

Lisa Karrer ’13

Lisa Karrer ’13
Finishing MFA – Interdisciplinary Performing Arts
CUNY City College of New York

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
SUNY Empire allowed me to create my own degree program in Performing Arts, custom-design my course studies with professors approval and in-put, and use my decades of experience as an artist and educator to earn Prior Life Experience (PLA) credits. This experience was so satisfying for me that I decided to pursue my MFA in Digital and Interdisciplinary Art Practice (DIAP) at CUNY City College of New York.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It helped me to focus on and streamline my specific areas of interest in interdisciplinary arts and arts education, supported my passion for directed learning, and inspired me to carry my studies further into a scholarly framework.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
As a career artist I have many proud and illuminated moments including world tours, large scale collaborative projects, and interdisciplinary installations in performing and art venues throughout the United States. As a BA (and current MFA) student my proudest moments have come from accomplishing new goals that combine academic studies with my aesthetic interests, which include subjects such as Dissociative Behavior, Forgiveness, and Pioneer Overland Migrations in America. These experiences have inspired me to make new multimedia works that I will continue to develop when I finish my degree.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Be creative and self-motivated in your personal goals! Use the vast range of subjects that this college offers, and shape them to fit your own trajectory in life. SUNY Empire is the only SUNY school I know of that will allow you (and encourage you!) to do these things.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I hope to visit SUNY Empire as a visiting contributing artist in the near future, to bring students examples of my own learning and life experience. I have already presented this idea to my own mentor and we hope to arrange a visit for spring 2017. As a guest artist I also want to initiate discussions with students, about how an academic journey can spark and open them to wider areas of subjects and interests they feel passionate about, and invested in.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I would love to participate in further group discussions that focus on strengthening the arts curriculum and programs at SUNY Empire! Please visit this website featuring my audio/video works. Some of my work was also featured in the 2014 Metropolitan Review which can be viewed by clicking here.

Heather Quigley ’15

Heather Quigley ’15
Fatherhood Case Manager
Family Enrichment Network

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
When looking to return to school, I was really inclined to attend and “online” school. After much searching and a lot of worrying about accreditation, I was able find SUNY Empire State College. As a previous SUNY graduate I immediately jumped at the chance to apply. I attended an information session at my local ESC office. After that, my mind was made up. I had to get my education through this school. The best thing about this college was the entire experience. Having a mentor to help guide me through any questions or issues I had was incredible. I have to say, my mentor was absolutely amazing! I also loved the fact that I was able to complete my degree in less time than I had expected, due to the way the semesters were laid out. The teachers I had were open, warm, and held us to a high standard.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I was excited to learn about the “Prior Learning Assessment.” Because my goal was to become a case manager in a non-profit agency, I was able to write a paper on my experiences as a stand-in case manager at a homeless shelter I had worked at. This process forced me to reflect on why this goal was important to me. I came to terms with the fact I love this work and I knew I had found my life’s path.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
As the Fatherhood Case Manager in the “New Pathways for Fatherhood” program at the Family Enrichment Network, I have had quite a few proud moments. I’d have to say my proudest moment was when I was assisting a participant in getting services for his daughter. She had been recently diagnosed with a mental health issue and he was getting overwhelmed by all of the things that needed to happen. Our group was able to sit down with him on several occasions and assist him in scheduling out all that needed to be done. I am still in contact with this individual and this is still a work in progress. However, seeing the weight lifting off his shoulders and his own personal growth has been wonderful to see.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
My advice would be, keep your chin up. There are times when work, life, and school collide but know that the faculty at ESC are here for you. Talk to your mentor and most importantly, breathe.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I loved this experience so much. The school, as I have said, is truly outstanding. I have decided I want to get my Masters Degree through ESC as well.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I am very proud to be an alumni with this school and to have my fellow alumni standing by my side.

Jacki Hannon ’15

jacki-hannon

Jacki Hannon ’15
Craft Beer and High End Manager
Eagle Beverage

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose ESC as it was the only school that worked with my busy lifestyle. I diligently pursued my degree while working full time, as a business owner and single mom. I found other students like me, adults, struggling to fit it all in, a great community at my center and at conferences. I loved it so much I am currently pursuing my MBA at Empire.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It was the right school for me. I could connect without having to be on campus daily.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I hosted a conference for business women with like minded business owners in Syracuse with great results.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
CONNECT! Connect! Connect! Make friends with online classmates, attend conferences, make residencies part of your plan.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I am grateful for everyone at Empire and want others to benefit.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Make connections! Have fun! Know you are not alone and that you can do this no matter what!

Chris Sapienza ’09

ESC-shield

Chris Sapienza ’09
Det. Lt./President: Captains, Lieutenants, and Sgts Assoc.
City of Yonkers Police Department

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
It is conducive to adult learning and allowed me to put all of my existing credits and my lifetime experience towards a degree. I was able to study at my own pace while working towards my degree.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It gave me the confidence to achieve my goals and further my education and career.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Graduating from the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va. Being acknowledged by President Obama as “Police Officer of the Year.”

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Never give up…it took me more than twenty years to earn my bachelors degree!

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
Because I believe it is one of the only viable means for a working adult to earn their degree.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Earning my degree from SUNY Empire State College and being the student speaker at my commencement ceremony was the proudest moment of my life. My degree has been an integral part of my career success.

Terrence Manning ’01,’06,’09

terrence-manning

Terrence Manning ’01, ’06, ’09
Supervisory Federal Law Enforcement Officer
Department of Homeland Security

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
My reason for choosing ESC was encouragement from my mentor Curtis Griffin who was my supervisor as a member of the U.S. Virgin Islands Police.

The very best think about ESC is the strong employees from faculty to support, mentors and instructors everyone is committed to seeing your success.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY Empire made it possible for me to compete for promotions and job assignments with a few degrees added to my resume but moreover I garnered a keen understanding of my polis and the world around it.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest career moment to date actually was delivering a speech at my Masters graduation from ESC.I originally dreamt of doing this during my ESC bachelors graduation. I was amazed by the garb worn by the Masters candidates as well as how they were vetted. I mentioned it to Mrs. Benke and Mr. McCann along with my desire to deliver the speech and they said it was possible. This aided in my eventual hiring as an adjunct Instructor at ESC.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Remain in close contact with your mentors and instructors. Pick courses that are useful over a lifetime. Certainly take all the time and effort needed to complete extensive research to create great papers and other academic products.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
It is very important to spread our talents, positive attributes, and ideas to everyone or anyone who will listen. We are on the hunt for great leaders to take us into the future and to this end sharing is a must.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
My affiliation with ESC has meant so much to me. This is a superb program with great people all around. We are uniquely blessed to be alumnus.

Kevin Burke

kevin-burke

Kevin Burke ’14
Assistant Head Football Coach/Offensive Coordinator
Poly Prep Country Day School

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose ESC because it gave me the ability to finish my degree in a flexible and fast way.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
My mentor at ESC, Lisa Scarinci, helped me plan my degree to benefit me professionally with the knowledge I gained from the classes and topics I took part in.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Stepping onto the football field at Penn State, Michigan, Army, Wisconsin, Indiana and of course Rutgers as a part of the football coaching staff at Rutgers University.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Set goals, make a plan to achieve those goals and stay the course!

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I want others to pursue their dreams as I have been fortunate enough to do so for myself.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
People will tell you that your vision is not realistic, that you need to just fall in line and take a job to take a job. Do not listen to them, because they do not understand true happiness.

Timothy Brown ’79

ESC-shield

Timothy Brown ’79
Managing Director, Asia Faculty of Arts and Sciences
Harvard University

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
The journey of intellectual growth is always a complicated and highly individual process. Not everyone including me is ready to benefit from study at the collegiate level at age 18. A multitude of factors including finances, previous education, maturity, discipline, desire, curiosity, willingness to be challenged intellectually, all must align for personal growth to blossom.

In 1977 I was 26 winding up a brief, but earnest attempt to carve out a career as a performing artist (classical and modern dance) in New York when I learned about ESC as the new non-traditional branch of SUNY. After a visit to the Metropolitan branch in Manhattan where I met mentors Mel Rosenthal and Tom Grunfeld, it seemed I found the perfect solution to my desire to extend my formal education. Indeed, I knew immediately ESC was a safe place where I could extend myself, take risks, and above all where my own ideas and imagination were valued.

I had reached a point in my life where I no longer felt comfortable joining a traditional cohort of college freshman straight out of high school. ESC’s audacious and pioneering program to identify and accept credit for experience and the flexibility that allowed me to study independently and shape my studies to address my own combination of interests made ESC an obvious choice.

While ESC itself had little by way of infrastructure, I was set free to take advantage of the great libraries, museums, performing arts spaces and other institutional assets both public and private that the great city of New York had to offer. From the incomparable New York Public Library to the vast course offerings at CUNY; from the archives at Lincoln Center to the great outdoor spaces of Central or Prospect Parks or the abundant and varied cultures and languages found in all the burroughs of the City for me ESC was not only the key to the city but the key to maturing as a productive citizen of the world. How could I not have choosen ESC?

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Having lived overseas as a child I developed a life long interest in international relations, culture and politics. Studying under the mentorship of Mel Rosenthal and then Tom Grunfeld I had the most naturally gifted teachers who opened my mind to worlds I had only dreamed of. Through their guidance, I made great progress and gained confidence in my writing and my ability to think and communicate critically. ESC prepared me first to think about and then to apply successfully to graduate school where I earned an MA in International Affairs at American University in Washington DC.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
In 2000 my own family and I moved to Beirut Lebanon where I worked for the Dean of Medicine at The American University of Beirut. I helped the dean reestablish the clinical and research practice in medicine that had suffered greatly from the then recent sixteen-year civil war. It was a difficult but fulfilling opportunity. I returned to the U.S. in 2002 to work for John Hopkins University on a joint venture project with Nanjing University called the Hopkins-Nanjing Center that offered a graduate certificate program in Chinese or American studies and then to Harvard University where I represent the Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in the Asia-Pacific raising funds for transformational educational opportunities and research.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I suggest thinking about SUNY Empire as the key to your world rather than as an inclusive place where you go to study independently of the rest of your life. This college opens doors and creates possibilities that you may not be aware of unless you try putting your own imagination to work. Don’t be a passive learner, be proactive, even aggressive about pursuing your questions. Think about your own life as a composition that you are creating and SUNY Empire as a great tool to make your life choices fulfilling and productive.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I hope the above conveys how ESC made a difference in my own intellectual journey. By supporting the College I intend to make similar magic possible for others. I owe ESC at least that much for the helping to restart my career and life.

Jacquelyn Cochran ’16

jacquelyn-cochran

Jacquelyn Cochran ’16
Home Closing Supervisor/Trainer
GEICO

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State shortly after meeting Colleen Reedy when she was on-site. Empire was offering classes at GEICO and the process of getting enrolled was easy! The staff at Empire State was unbelievable helpful and made being successful attainable. The best thing about Empire State is that they recognize their students are mostly adults who have full-time jobs as well as family and make it seamless to enter into their programs.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
On a personal level, I hadn’t been to school since 1989 when I earned my Associates Degree. I had always wanted to return to school to get my Bachelor’s degree and was never able to find the right time. Once I started working at GEICO and entered into management, it was a requirement to pursue a Bachelor’s degree. Meeting the folks from Empire State made it clear that this was the only way to go and I knew that the way they set up the program and curriculum that success was attainable!

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest career moment to date was when I was contacted by my Human Resources department to be interviewed by Channel 4 and talk about my experience with GEICO and their partnership with Empire State College. I was able to talk about the fact that I am 48 years old and getting my degree while advancing at work simultaneously. Neither one would be possible without the other.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
My advice to every Empire State College student is to stay focused and disciplined. Focus on what you are working for and never lose sight of it. Be disciplined with your schedule of school work. For me, I designated one full day on the weekend and 2-3 hours in the evening on Tuesday/Thursday as classwork time. It is important to stay as caught up as possible with your workload and be disciplined enough to make it a priority no matter what. The sacrifice now is so very worth it later!

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I give back to Empire State because I am so very grateful for the personal achievement I feel each day knowing I have my Bachelor’s degree. Without the support I received from them, I would not be where I am today. They are truly the total package and I want others to have that measure of success that I now know.

Kurtis Kennedy ’07

kurtis-kennedy

Kurtis Kennedy ’07
Director of Research
Albany County Legislature

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
While living and working in Atlanta, GA for Bellsouth Telecom at the time (2005), currently AT&T, I applied for a Bahr Scholarship with my union Communication Workers of America (CWA). Even though Bellsouth laid me off, I was awarded a full ride scholarship to SUNY-Empire State College. It is a defining moment in my path to academic success.

The Bahr Scholarship provided financial resources that allowed me to focus solely on my degree plan in order that I could complete my Bachelor of Science in Business Management and Economics with a concentration in (Information Systems) in 2007.

The Best thing about SUNY- Empire State College is the support provided by Mentors, Faculty and Staff for new and transfer students like myself. To have someone to guide me in the development of my degree plan and rationale for undergraduate studies was invaluable.

I found ESC undergraduate courses to be rigorous, challenging, yet worthwhile as I pursued graduate studies later in life.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY- Empire State College has continued to be a blessing in my life because I have had opportunities to continue my formal education. It has shaped how I think, read, write and ask questions.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
The proudest moment in my life has been relocating to the Capital District in 2009 to attend Albany Law School. I subsequently graduated ALS magna cum laude in 2010 with a Master of Law Degree, a consortium with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in “Technology Transfer.” That is the single most important moment in my life to date regarding my professional and academic goals.

Currently, I again attend ESC in pursuit of my MBA-Management degree and anticipate graduating with honors. I am very proud of my accomplishments at Empire State College and plan to donate as much as possible in order to pay it forward.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
My advice to current Empire State College students is to apply yourselves and take your undergraduate and graduate studies serious. The work you do today will make your future professional and academic goals much easier to attain. Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today. Also, do not let what you can not do keep you from pursuing what you can do in life.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
Giving back to Empire State College is important to me because the scholarship and assistance I received also came from contributions to the College. We should all (alumni) do our parts to lend a hand to the future students of Empire State College.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Empire State College has made a very positive impact in my life and I will forever be grateful to the Mentors, Faculty, Advisers and Staff of the College. My wife and I anticipate buying a home in the Capital Region soon, after we do I plan to give as much as possible to the College. Your consideration is appreciated.

Kurtis Kennedy, MLS, ’07

Hady Aouad ’10

hardy-aouad

Hady Aouad ’10
Owner
Hady Aouad Consultancy & Management Firm

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
As I started working abroad, I was looking for an educational institute that will provide me with:
– Good Material through professional instructors,
– An accredited degree worldwide,
– And a special touch that cannot be found in every other College and University.

How did your Empire State College degree help you achieve where you are?
The diversity that was provided in the discussions and classes enriched my knowledge with other people’s experience. This was especially true experiencing that each person comes from a different culture, country and mentality, thus each one will participate by adding their own touch which will widen our horizon and enable us to see and understand the subject from its different perspectives.

What is the name of the company where you are working and what is your job title?
I have just launched my own Consultancy and Management Firm in the Middle East, based in Qatar: “Hady Aouad Consultancy & Management Firm.” In parallel, I consider myself an entrepreneur who is interested in launching good ideas, monitor the planning and the growth, and move on to another challenge.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
So far, I have occupied many important positions with lead companies in their business on a global level.
Working with FedEx, Exxon Mobil, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC): it will give each individual with a certain professional touch that will shape your career and portfolio.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
As a student, I had no idea what the real world would look like once I started my actual work. Looking back, if I was a student again, I would have enrolled in an internship program with a company that would add to my academic experience relative to the theoretical knowledge from the college.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I am so proud being a Graduate from ESC, and I feel the sense of giving back to the institution that helped me reach where I am.

Laura Williams French ’15

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Laura Williams French ’15
Production Manager
McKie Sports

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire because of the flexibility. When I started I was a single mom of two daughters, one with special needs and one in college. Empire’s flexibility allowed me to earn my degree while still being an involved parent and a full-time employee.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Working with my mentor to design classes that pursued my interests kept me engaged throughout both my Bachelor’s and Master’s programs. I was able to rediscover my passion for literature and pursue a degree and career change.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest moment was being selected to present a paper at the Pacific Ancient and Modern Language Association in 2014. With the encouragement of my mentor I submitted a proposal and was selected to present. The experience of interacting with other academics and presenting my paper was thrilling, gratifying, and somewhat terrifying.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
My best advice is to persevere. Life throws all kinds of challenges at us, but focusing on the goal will get you through.

Robin Carter ’15

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Robin Carter ’15
Counselor Assistant
Buffalo Guidance Group

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State College because it was a SUNY school and gave me the flexibility I needed as a working adult learner. The best thing about the college was the kindness and support I received from all of the instructors, my mentor and my classmates.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Empire State College gave me the confidence I needed to continue my education. I am now working toward my Masters Degree in Mental Health Counseling.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest moment was when I was able to apply for a job that required more than just a high school diploma.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I would advise students to push forward even at times of frustration and weakness. Don’t give up because you are going to make it. When you finally finish you will be glad you stuck with it.

Amie Rogers ’15

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Amie Rogers ’15
Senior Staff Accountant
Barrett CPA, PC

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
As a working, single mother, I felt it was important for me to pursue my education in an effort to provide a better life for my daughter and be a positive role model. I chose Empire State College because it allowed me to provide for my daughter and attend school simultaneously, without having to sacrifice any income.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I worked very closely with my mentor to mold my degree program around my personal and professional goals. I was employed in my field of study, and found that my work experience and coursework accented and coordinated with one another.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Now that I have my BS, I find that people are starting to respect and have faith in my knowledge and abilities in my field. It has allowed me to perform higher level work and earn a greater salary.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Time management is key. Know that while you can do your school work from the comfort of your home, it still takes a great deal of time and concentration.

Ronald Heath ’02

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Ronald Heath ’02
Chief Sales and Marketing Officer
Community Banking System/OneGroup

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
At the time, I was looking into colleges for my son and those colleges focused on adult students. What I found was an incredible opportunity for myself to capture credit for life learning, in an environment for and by adults. As it turned out, it was a great choice for both my son and me!

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Having started a number of businesses, ESC may not have directly shaped my career, however, with the guidance and help of ESC and my mentors, Nikki Shrimpton and Dick Butler, I broadened my options beyond my businesses and provided the credentials to go along with my expertise.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
After a long career in branding, marketing and sales, I think my proudest moment and highest career achievement was having been recruited into a small <$1 billion public company to help reorganize multiple acquisitions and re brand the company. I was able to assist on the strategic operations side while creating the new name, OneGroup, legally securing it’s registration, designing the brand and following it out. In addition, I was able to contribute to the design of a 34,000 square-foot state-of-the-art collaborative workplace now named OneGroup Center. It was a rare opportunity to influence every part of the company’s transition and branding.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I advise many traditional and adult students to look closely at ESC, to dig in to the true value available to them. I also encourage them to mentally prepare to do more (you get more in return), and stick with it when the going seems tough. Dropping out or slacking off is not an option and unlike tradition college, even the most expensive schools, the ESC mentor program and indeed, the organization, is geared to help you, to serve you and to ensure your success.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
Empire State College is a unique learning venue. As an Alumni Board member for six years, I worked hard to ensure we did not become like all the others with formality, expensive campuses and ultra liberal views that breed the mediocrity, divisiveness and entitlement we see on so many campuses around the country.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
While we students of Empire State College did not participate in the frat parties and bashes on the quad, or even the close ties to each other, we never the less share robustly in the learning process, our time with our mentors and the ultimate satisfaction of having accomplished our formal higher education goals. That satisfaction will stay with each of us throughout our lives. If anyone is hesitating for any reason–money, time, fear…–set that aside and make the decision to better yourself in every way at Empire State College. You will not regret it!

Janet Simmons ’15

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Janet Simmons ’15
Program Asst.
The Bridge

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Empire State offered the support that I needed. I am a student with disabilities. I wanted to attend college via online classes. Empire offer students a tremendous amount of support. My mentor Martha Schecter was phenomenal in helping to lay the foundation in my course studies. Her guidance was essential in helping me to broaden and expand my my academic views. I am now preparing to return to Empire College for my Bachelor’s degree. I can not envision completing my academic goals in any other college.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Earning my Associate degree helped build my confidence and self esteem. Empire taught me how to fight my fear of failure and embrace the universe of academic achievement. Professionally Empire has helped me realize my options for my semi-retirement career.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My career highlight is hearing my patients say “Ms. J. Thank you for helping me, I’m glad you’re still working here.” Providing services for the mentally ill and homeless can be seen as just a job. Offering the less fortunate ones words of hope, a warm atmosphere and a genuine smile can show a deeper expression of humanity. There is not one thing to compare to a genuine act of kindness that lifts the spirit of others.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
To Empire State College current students I advise you to embrace your academic lessons as well as your daily life’s lessons. If you’re faced with difficulties with your courses or feeling overwhelmed, never give up and retreat. Empire has the greatest support system I have ever known. Ask for help. Don’t be afraid to not have all of the answers. Most of all enjoy your journey!

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
My way of giving back to Empire State College is recommending the college to every new and returning student I meet. I enjoy sharing my truly memorable experience of attending Empire State College. This college is invested each students academic success.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I believe one the most important decisions in life is which college to attend. I’ve attended one other college in my hometown of NYC. I was floundering in my attempt to obtain my college degree twenty years ago. I felt like an outsider in my small college there wasn’t any support for people like me. I felt very insecure and afraid. Tutoring at that college was for students who could grasp the concepts and excel in little time. I eventually gave up and left college. I was never happy about leaving without my degree. Choosing the right college is a wise choice. I regret that it took me almost 3 decades to earn my first degree. I am overjoyed and truly grateful that I have completed one of my academic goals. I landed in the right college. Empire State college provided me with all the support and understanding that I needed to succeed. I am eternally grateful to Empire State College, my mentor, students and the faculty for providing me with a good education and a wonderful experience. I look forward to returning soon! Thanks ver much

Francis Murray ’15

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Francis Murray ’15
Manager
Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State College because it allowed me achieve my goal of becoming a College graduates while still maintaining a work/life balance between my family, my work and my schooling.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Empire State helped to shape my goals by allowing the flexibility that I needed to take courses that were interesting while still working toward my area of study.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Having a degree was the ticket that I would need to open future doorways for continued professional success. Ultimately, my continued performance at work led to my being promoted to the position of Manager before I had even finished my degree.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Stay engaged with your mentor and find the work life balance that will allow you to achieve academic success.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I try to give back when I can to help other Veterans such as myself achieve their academic goals.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Your success at Empire State is only limited by your thinking. They go out of their way to be accommodating to the needs of their students. They understand what it is like to have to balance a full time career, a family and your academic studies.

Joanna Loomis ’15

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Joanna Loomis ’15
Executive Director
Watertown Urban Mission

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State College because of its flexibility (I could work while I learned), affordability, and credibility. Against a backdrop of prolific “diploma mills” and for-profit online education programs, the respect and credibility of the SUNY name was important to me. I think the best thing about ESC is its blended use of theory and practice, allowing me to get a “top-down” view of my field while giving me practical, “bottom-up” tools. And I can’t say enough about the professors; they truly invest an intense amount of time and energy into students to make the experience rich and empowering.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
ESC gave me the opportunity to hone my writing and research skills, and situate my simple desire to help people in need in the large, complex field of social theory and policy.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest career moment to date was being named the Executive Director of the Watertown Urban Mission, a non-profit organization which helps people in need in the North Country over 35,000 times each year. I could not have moved into this position without the M.A. I received from ESC.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
ESC will give you all the tools and support you need to bloom–now take them and own the process! And, when you’re not engaged in your academic work, get out in your community and volunteer, network, get involved… You will probably find ESC alumni well-positioned in your field of interest!

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
ESC gave me the opportunity to increase my knowledge, grow as a person and as a professional, earn a degree, be mentored by amazing and well-respected professors–and it was affordable and convenient to boot. How could I not reinvest in a cause that has invested in me? I believe strongly in ESC’s work to provide accessible and high-quality education to all.

 

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I am currently exploring a Master’s Degree program, as I will be teaching ESL courses to teenagers in the Fall. I think that Empire will be able to assist me in tackling the next phase of my career.

David Turan ’99

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David Turan ’99
Partner / Shareholder
DiMarco, Abiusi & Pascarella, CPAs, PC

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Empire State was the right fit in that it made possible an education for someone – like me – who was employed full time, already had a family and all the related responsibilities – but desired a career change. The best thing about Empire State – in my opinion, would be that the faculty and staff (who ultimately make the college what it is) possess and encourage an “anything is possible” attitude with regard to higher education, especially for those who would consider themselves non-traditional students.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Empire State began helping me professionally right from the very first information session I attended in 1994. The speaker emphasized that in order for a non-traditional student to succeed, they need to be an excellent time manager, possess self discipline and be prepared to delegate responsibilities when practical. I have utilized all three of these skills ever since.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
For me, career success is achieved at the moment you begin to give back to your community in your professional capacity. Becoming a board member of a non-profit, a volunteer tutor at Empire State and giving my time to speak to prospective small business owners at our local community college our my proudest professional moments thus far.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Spend at least some time every day to your education. During those times when educational demands are low – that is the time to jump ahead. Remember, educational success is dependent on your ability to stay ahead, plan for the future and manage your time wisely.

George Scott ’10

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George Scott ’10
President
Business Consulting Services

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Initial selection reason: Credit for prior learning (I submitted the 3rd highest quantity of CBE’s as of June 2007.)

Reasons for continuing with ESC MBA degree program:

  1. Terrific teaching & administrative staff!
  2. Overall superb “positive learning experience.”

http://www.esc.edu/media/ocgr/publications-presentations/all-about-mentoring/2015/Issue-46-AAM-Winter-2015.pdf

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Follow this link for an in-depth response (turn to page 55) http://www.esc.edu/media/ocgr/publications-presentations/all-about-mentoring/2015/Issue-46-AAM-Winter-2015.pdf

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Becoming an ESC CDL adjunct instructor.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
There is compassionate help everywhere. If you feel stuck, reach out. You will be glad that you did.

Mark Smith Sr. ’09

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Mark Smith Sr. ’09
ADMINISTRATIVE PROJECT MANAGER AND FIRE ALARM VARIANCES MANAGER
CITY OF NEW YORK FIRE DEPARTMENT

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
ESC PROVIDED AN OPPORTUNITY TO COMPLETE MY TECHNOLOGY AND ENGINEERING STUDIES ON MY TERMS APPROPRIATE TO MY PRIOR AND CURRENT EXPERIENCE AND EMPLOYMENT, PRIOR ACADEMIC CAREER AND STANDINGS AND FUTURE OPPORTUNITIES IN MY CAREER. THE BEST THING ABOUT ESC IS THE SUPPORT AND GUIDANCE AFFORDED STUDENTS IN DESIGNING THEIR ACADEMIC COURSE OF STUDY AND IN DOING SO GAINING THE REQUISITE SKILLS TO ANALYSIS PRIOR EDUCATION AND WORK EXPERIENCE AND APPLYING THESE SKILLS IN CHOOSING THE NECESSARY COURSEWORK TO COMPLETE THEIR ACADEMIC DEGREES.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
THE CADRE OF PROFESSIONAL ACADEMIC ADVISORS TUTELAGE IN UNDERSTANDING THE STRUCTURE OF ESC BEGINNING COURSE IN DOCUMENTING YOUR PRIOR WORK AND PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCES, ACADEMIC EVALUATIONS, FUTURE EMPLOYMENT AND PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT, AND GAINING KNOWLEDGE OF COURSEWORK AVAILABLE. THE COURSE WORK AND DEGREE CURRICULUM ARE STRUCTURED TO ADVANCE PERSONAL, ACADEMIC, PROFESSIONAL AND FUTURE GOALS INCLUDING APPLICATION OF SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE GAINED BY COMPLETION OF ESC DEGREE REQUIREMENTS IN OUR CHOSEN AREAS OF CONCENTRATION.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
CONTRIBUTIONS TO THE BODY OF REGULATIONS REGARDING TECHNOLOGY MANAGEMENT AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING OF CONTROL SYSTEMS WITH SPECIALIZATIONS IN FIRE ALARM AND FIRE SUPPRESSION SYSTEMS FOR THE CITY OF NEW YORK INCLUDING MULTIPLE CODE DEVELOPMENT CYCLES OF THE NEW YORK CITY FIRE CODES, ELECTRICAL CODES, BUILDING CODES, AND MODIFICATION OF MULTIPLE ADOPTION CYCLES OF THE NATIONAL FIRE PROTECTION ASSOCIATION STANDARDS OF THE NATIONAL FIRE ALARM CODE (NFPA 72-1990, 1999, 2002, 2010) AMENDED FOR CITY OF NEW YORK.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
REGARDLESS OF CIRCUMSTANCES THAT MAY BEFALL YOUR LIFE, BECAUSE LIFE HAPPENS CONTINUOUSLY, UNDERSTAND AND BELIEVE THAT YOU ARE WORTH EVERY IOTA OF KNOWLEDGE AND OPPORTUNITY THAT YOUR COURSE OF STUDY SHALL AFFORD THOSE WITH THE AMBITION AND COURAGE TO LIVE THEIR DREAM BY COMPLETING YOUR DEGREE NO MATTER HOW FAR OR HOW LONG THE TREK TAKES.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
“LIVE LONG AND PROSPER”

Debra Alimentato ’10

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Debra Alimentato ’10
Administrative Assistant to the Dean of Curriculum and Program Development
Retired from Monroe Community College

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
The best thing about Empire State College was not having to be in a classroom. I was able to set my own pace, follow the course outline, and meet my deadlines all while working a full- time job and taking care of my family.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Adele Anderson was my mentor throughout my five years at Empire State College. As we talked about my life skills and job experience, she was able to guide me through my journey. She is the one who helped me to connect the dots to the previous business courses I had taken while blending studies with my major; Community and Human Services. I earned a B.S. In Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Administration. I always had a desire to earn a bachelor’s degree but my family came first. I wanted my children to go to college to give them a better chance of supporting themselves and their family. When my youngest son died at 16 years old from cancer, my only regret in life was not getting my degree. When I decided to pursue this dream, my oldest two children had graduated from college, my daughter with her master’s, and my son with a bachelor’s; I decided it was finally my time. After I graduated a position became available at the college that was a perfect fit for me. My degree set me apart from the other candidates. When I retired, from my latest position, I was told that I set the bar very high.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest career moment was being chosen for the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence in 2010. My son was the inspiration behind my whole journey and because of my fundraising efforts for Camp Good Days and Special Times, getting a story about him published in a book, and maintaining a 3.9 GPA while working full-time I was nominated and chosen as a candidate for the award.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
You can succeed at Empire State College if you are a motivated, self-starter who keeps moving forward and meets their deadlines on time. I convinced a friend of mine to try it and she graduated two years ago with her bachelor’s degree.

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
Students always need a helping hand, even for books. Every little bit helps.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
like Nike says, “Just do it.”

Christine Robinson-Cooley ’01

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Christine Robinson-Cooley ’01
Senior Parole Officer
NYS Department of Corrections & Community Supervision

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State College because of the flexibility of the program. As an employee of the NYS DOCCS I was moving frequently for promotional opportunities. If it had not been for the flexibility of where and when I was completing my studies a graduate degree would not have been an option for me.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
As a Criminal Justice Professional, the making and the implementation of policies is the very essence of the work I do. During my program I completed and internship under the Graduate Albany Semester Program for the NYS DOCCS at a correctional facility Residential Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Program. To be able to take classes and immediately put to practice the information and skills I was learning shaped my entire career with the department.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I was hired by NYS DOCCS during my GRASP internship. I was promoted earlier this year in a specialized bureau within the department. I am most proud that I have been able to assist and educate interns and employees about not letting working full-time hinder their educational growth. Empire State College allows students the freedom to pursue their career and educational goals simultaneously in a way not possible in traditional settings. I joke that the college was founded the year I was born because traditional was not going to work for a woman comfortable working with convicted felons in maximum security prisons!

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Today’s job market is tough there is no denying that. You need to think outside box. Explore all your options. If there are opportunities not in the area you reside or are outside of your comfort zone pursue them! Working while you pursue your degree 1) keeps your student loan debt low and 2) provides you with work experience that enhances the education your pursuing.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Never stop learning! Join professional organizations, attend annual conferences. Keeping abreast of current trends in your field keeps you fresh, interested and marketable!

Daniel Hastings ’09

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Daniel Hastings ’09
Assistant Chief Investigator
New York State Department of Taxation and Finance

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose this school because of it’s credibility and convenience for adult learners.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Without having obtained the Bachelors Degree I would have been unable to advance to my current position

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Having been promoted to Assistant Chief and being in charge of my office as well as having superving my agency’s task force officers

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Stay with it and maintain a balanced schedule with work and school.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Never give up!

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