Alumni: 84,000   Students: 17,000

Alumni Testimonials

There are moments. And then there are moments that change your life. We all had that “moment” – an event, conversation or self-discovery that drove us to achieve more, be more, earn our degree. Maybe yours was the moment you decided to pursue a lifelong dream. Maybe it was a career change. Or maybe your moment was more personal.

Whatever your moment, we’re glad it led you to ESC.

Help our prospective students walk a mile in your shoes. Tell them what inspired you to earn your degree, who encouraged you to keep going, obstacles you overcame…and how your life changed because of it. Click here to provide your testimonial.

Ester Horowitz ’95

Ester Horowitz ’95
United Concierge Medicine
VP of Strategic Partnerships

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Because learning comes in all shapes, sizes, and ways. SUNY Empire is innovative and caters to working professionals that want a non-traditional method of learning.

Linda Makson ’17

Linda Makson ’17

Anything else you would like to share?
Empire may not be for everyone, but if you are able to study on your own and do not need to adhere to a schedule Empire is for you. Empire offers freedom to learn when and where you are able.

Carol Machowski ’14, ’17

Carol Machwoski ’14, ’17
Program Coordinator
Baker Victory Services

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
You get out of it what you put into it. The supports are there if you need them.

Jeremy Whorf ’18

Jeremy Whorf ’18
Production Coordinator
Angiodynamics

Who supported and encouraged you along the way?
My mentor Himanee Gupta-Carlson was extremely helpful throughout my studies at ESC.

Hope Stanger ’16

Laura vonKampen ’18
Director of Human Resources
JD Beauty/WetBrush

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
Everything about the school made sense for me. ESC was on my radar for a number of years but the timing was not yet there until that “aha” moment. I wanted to be able to give myself all the advantages that would allow me to get my degree in psychology (which I had started 31 years before!) while still feeling balanced and soaring in the rest of my life.

Laura vonKampen ’18

Laura vonKampen ’18
Director of Human Resources
JD Beauty/WetBrush

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
I knew that at ESC I would receive credit for what I had learned throughout my career. ESC also offered flexibility of classes and class types, along with a mentor who helped guide me along the way.

Toneisha Colson ’18

Toneisha Colson ’18
Administrative Assistant
Jerome Belford’s Landscaping

What, if any, obstacles did you overcome?
My age, I am now 47, divorced, I have three children and a house to take care of. I had to overcome my illness, sometimes with Lupus you just can’t get out of bed. I had to overcome depression and trying to please everybody almost losing sight of God. He was there the whole time.

Emily Sussman ’18

Emily Sussman ’18
Graduate Student – MS in Major Rehabilitation Counseling
SUNY Buffalo Graduate School of Education

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Online learning is not what you think it is. It is hard and wonderfully rewarding. You connect and are much more interactive with your classmates and professor then you would ever be in a lecture class. They also have some of the most amazing professors and mentors. Take a chance and try ESC.

Eric Zwieg ’18

Eric Zwieg ’18
Graduate Student
Self-Employed

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Commit 100% of your passion towards completing something. A class, a semester, a calendar year, a degree and never look back.

Claire Neher Vignola ’18

Claire Neher Vignola ’18
Clerk/Typist
Rockland Community College

What, if any, obstacles did you overcome?
I was caring for my mom, and it was at times difficult when she needed to be admitted into the hospital to keep up with my studies, but I kept myself on track by realizing getting a degree would lead to a better position.

Anthony Sanseverino ’18

Anthony Sanseverino ’18
Training Instructor
Norfolk Naval Shipyard

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
My inspiration is a direct result of my time spent in the military. The old Army motto was “Be all that you can be” and I live that motto everyday of my life. I see the value in education and the doors that can be opened as a result.

Melissa Petrovsky ’18

Melissa Petrovsky ’18
Video Editor
Student – Pursuing MFA in Cinema Arts/ Post-Production

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Besides the fact that it feels awesome to give back at ESC, I think it is important to make an impact by volunteering and strengthening our communities.

Sandra Quinteros ’17

Sandra Quinteros ’17
Neighborhood Aide
Riverhead Central School District

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
I would advise for you to start right away, even if it’s with just one class, there will always be reasons to keep postponing your education, but the sooner you start the sooner you’ll get to your goal.

Laura Black ’18

Melissa Sperry ’18
Unemployed

What three words best describe who and what you are?
Motivated. Honest. Persistent.

Melissa Sperry ’18

Melissa Sperry ’18
Substitute Teacher
Herkimer BOCES

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
My husband died almost 5 years ago and I was in college at the time. So I wanted to prove to him and everyone else that I could get my bachelor’s degree in education.

Kristin McGivern ’18

Kristin McGivern ’18
Full-time Student
Masters in Social Work

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Because I am grateful for my experience and confident endorsing what they offer. My instructors and classmates were insightful and challenged my thinking. Its without a doubt the perfect fit for people living real lives.

Kristina Borovkova ’16

Kristina Borovkova ’16
Senior Customer Master Professional
ExxonMobil

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Always follow your dreams and never give up.

Lou LaBadie ’17

Lou LaBadie ’17
Retired
Self-Employed

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
It’s my Alma Mater!

Tami Bone ’17

Tami Bone ’17
Columbia Opportunities, Inc. Head Start
Classroom Manager

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
It’s my Alma Mater!

Alexandra Osborne ’17

Alexandra Osborne ’17
SECNY Federal Credit Union
Education Marketing Manager

What, if any, obstacles did you overcome?
One particular semester that stands out is the tax season that I worked at an accounting firm while studying full time at ESC. I used all of my lunch breaks to read my textbooks and evenings to write papers and discussion posts. It was exhausting but I learned what I am capable of!

Cassandra Cavness ’13

Cassandra Cavness ’13
Alabama State University
Assistant Professor & Humanities Digital Archivist

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
I always wanted to attend college but I was sidetracked along the way. My dreams were put on hold for a little while when I found out I was pregnant at the age of 19. However, I kept reading and kept the passion for learning alive. I decided that I couldn’t put my life on hold forever because I wanted my kids to have a better life and I could only do that by pursuing my degree.

Matthew Kilgore ’18

Matthew Kilgore ’18
AMDA
Dance Faculty

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Just do it. Apprehension was my biggest obstacle to actually going back to school. Fear of being an adult learner. Fear of not having enough time. Fear of not having enough money. Fear of not being able to finish…again. Fear of failure. When presented with the opportunity to sink or swim…most will rise to the occasion and swim their way to victory. It’s the same at ESC…just jumping in is the hardest part. Once you’re in, there are many programs designed to help you succeed. Working closely with my mentor, using the student services offered, opening a dialogue with my instructors all helped me succeed. Everyone at ESC wants you to succeed, and I felt that from day 1.

Andrew Sansone ’16

Andrew Sansone ’16
Allied Wealth Partners
Financial Advisor, CFP

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?:
We live one life. Take action toward your goals. The progress you will make will feel empowering. You are what you do, not what you say you’ll do. Dreams don’t work unless you do.

Louise McAndrew ’18

Louise McAndrew ’18
Saratoga Hospital
Prep Tech in Same Day Surgery (PCA)

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?:
From my experiences at several different colleges, I highly recommend SUNY Empire State College. I never felt like the staff at those colleges were very helpful when I was struggling. I did not pick my classes like I did here, I was put into classes so I could get the credits I needed. Yes, I needed to take those particular classes, but I did not even get to look them over beforehand and see what I was getting into. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, look over the classes you are interested in taking. I found that all my professors at SUNY Empire were more than wiling to see me succeed, and they helped me when things were difficult.

Elizabeth Webster ’81

Elizabeth Webster ’81
University of Rochester Medical Center
Retired

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?:
There were many, but one that stands out is when the CEO of Strong Memorial Hospital told me that the program I designed implemented and managed was working so well that it would become a permanent part of the hospital’s business plan.

Elizabeth Arthur ’12

Elizabeth Arthur ’12
Electrician and Owner
IBEW Local 3 / Kimimi Swimwear LLC

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?:
Follow your dreams. Let no one discourage you.

Jeffrey Hunter ’03

Jeffrey Hunter ’03
Program Manager
National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?:
Without my experience at SUNY ESC, I wouldn’t have the job that I dreamed about for years.

Jonathan Darche ’00

Jonathan Darche ’00
Executive Director
New York City Civilian Complaint Review Board

Why did you choose SUNY Empire?:
I thought SUNY Empire would allow me to achieve a college degree while working full time, maximize the credits I had accumulated from my prior studies, give me credit for what I learned through some of my life’s experiences, and allow me to study material that was of interest to me. I was correct.

Lynn Ann Hinds-McCoy ’16

Lynn Ann Hinds-McCoy ’16
Director of Human Resources
Everis, Inc.

What is the best thing about SUNY Empire?:
The best aspect of SUNY Empire? Trick question! There are many “bests:” from affordability, personalized service, mentors, support staff and services that go above and beyond, to programs designed for those who have prior learning and transfer credit, flexible class options and online/distance accessibility. Perhaps at the very top of the best list- are the people of SUNY Empire. Phenomenal individuals who work tirelessly on your behalf, at ESC, YOU are important, valuable, and not just a number, a statistic or contributing to the bottom line. They are there for YOU to empower and facilitate you to realize your academic goals and succeed in your quest to complete your degree. Stop in to any SUNY Empire office and see for yourself!

Vince Rubert ’03

Vince Rubert ’03
Technical Support Manager
Bosch

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?:
My proudest moment happened as walked on stage to receive my BS in Business Management and Economics degree in May 2003. My thoughts reminded me on the progression of job’s I’ve held: washing dishes, flipping burgers, manufacturing line, technician, lead service engineering now with this degree I have landed a new position as technical support manager.

Eleni Moraites ’16

Eleni Moraites ’16
Human Resources Representative
Northwell Health

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?:
SUNY Empire has transformed me into a motivated, driven, and hard-working individual. In return, I love to assist faculty members with Information Sessions, Open Houses, and Commencement so that I can share my experience with new and potential students.

Shah Powell ’16, ’17

Shah Powell ’16, ’17
NYC Department of Education

How did SUNY Empire help shape your personal and professional goals?:
SUNY Empire paved a safe space for me to pursue my educational goals while balancing a family and full-time employment. As a non-traditional student, that is not an easy feat. I was initially hesitant about taking online courses, but that hesitation was removed once I realized that the courses were as rigorous and engaging as any in-person class option. I was also thrilled to engage in the PLA process which provided me an opportunity to analyze and quantify my learning throughout my career and ultimately gain academic credit towards my degree plan.

Lois Barth ’12

Lois Barth ’12
Human Development Expert, Motivational Speaker, Coach and Author
Self-Employed

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Because it’s never too late to get a great education. It’s never too late to follow your dreams and turn potential into a dream come true.
I will always donate to SUNY Empire. Even a small donation, that you don’t even think twice about, won’t even miss, can make the difference between someone else going to school or not. We must invest in institutions that can rebuild this great country, and education is still the best investment in town.

Paul Antonellis ’00, ’03

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

2. How did SUNY Empire help 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. 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.

D. Jeremy DeMar ’14

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

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.

Queva Pizarro

Queva Pizarro
Navy and Army National Guard Veteran
Current 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 State College 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.

Corey Rooker ’16

Corey Rooker ’16
Transportation Supervisor
Port Byron Central Schools

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

Cynthia Wandursky-Sciacca ’87

Cynthia Wandursky-Sciacca ’87
Retired

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

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.

Mark Spawn ’07

Mark Spawn ’07
CEO
The Spawn Group, LLC

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.

Diana Rishani ’10

Diana Rishani ’10
Teacher
American Community School at Beirut

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

Vilma Denisia ’15

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

How did SUNY Empire help 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.

David DiSanto ’09

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

What would you like to share with fellow alumni and students about your experience?
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

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

Shannon Dankert ’14

Shannon Dankert ’14
Community Service Coordinator
Cortland County Probation

Why did you choose SUNY Empire? 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.

Margot Stornelli ’04

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

Why did you choose SUNY Empire? 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.

Patricia Festa ’14

Patricia Festa ’14
District Treasurer
Auburn Enlarged City Schools

Why did you choose SUNY Empire? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose SUNY Empire based on comments and referrals from friends. Also, there an office at our local community college and I stopped in for an informational 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.

Kristen Holler ’13

Kristen Holler ’13
Executive Director
Albany Barn, Inc.

What do you think is the best thing about the college?
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.

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