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.

Ou He ’93

Ou He ’93
College Admissions Director/Founder
To The Top Education Group

How has your experience at ESC changed your life since graduation?
My bachelor’s degree from ESC allowed me to pursue an MBA at San Francisco State University. After that, I worked for HP finance for 15 years then started two companies. I sold the IT company in 2015, now run my education consulting company To The Top Education Group (www.meijinbang.com), helping Chinese students get into US high schools and colleges. My students have been accepted by my alma mater SUNY Empire & SFSU. It has come a full circle.

Deri Ronis ’83

Deri Ronis ’83
Adjunct Professor/Private Practice as a Mediator & Consultant
Suncoast Technical College

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
I would ask them if they are self motivated, because I believe a person needs to be committed to their course of action in a non traditional educational setting. I’m so grateful for Interdependent Learning!

Michael B. Drew ’10

Michael B. Drew ’10
Firefighter
Retired

Why do you give back to ESC?
The faculty and staff at Empire State College invested a lot of their time and energy in helping me complete my degree. The level of personal attention to the students is what makes this institution so special, especially the student mentoring process.

Jim Fiorino ’11, ’15

Jim Fiorino ’11, ’15
CooperVision
Director of Distribution

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
The flexibility of the online classes and the ability to work on the assignments on my time. Having a clear understanding of the expectations of the professors at the start of the semester and the ability to work with professors if work/life got in the way of assignments. The onsite sessions were also a key part, as you have the opportunity to meet your classmates face to face.

Theresa Cusmano ’18

Theresa Cusmano ’18
New York City Department of Education
Paraprofessional

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
My beautiful children. I stopped going to school because I was having a baby. After putting three amazing children through college, We all felt it was my turn to accomplish my goal. Teaching! I have always wanted to teach and now I will. I have been so blessed by Empire State College, the professors, and my beautiful family.

Sandra Washington ’18

Sandra Washington ’18
Racker Centers
Residential House Manager

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Do not give up on your dreams of a higher education, no matter what occurs. Yes, you will earn a degree but most importantly you will have proven to yourself that you are a finisher and not a quitter.

Camille McKay ’14, ’17

Camille McKay ’14, ’17
Memorial Sloan Kettering
Regional Pathology Manager

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
I was a histologist for 25 years and was grandfathered in. I didn’t need a degree, one day my boss asked me for my diploma and I had to explain why I didn’t have one. I was embarrassed. I went back to school at SUNY Empire for my AS in Interdisciplinary Studies and continued on for my BS in Healthcare Management.

Randal Martinez ’03, ’05

Randal Martinez ’03, ’05
Lakehaven Water and Sewer District
Assistant Manager – Wastewater Operations

What, if any, obstacles did you overcome as a studen?
A full-time job, 2 teenage boys, a wife, job lay-off with an income drop, the death of my dad, and numerous other life events. But challenges are just opportunities wrapped up in a little bit of difficulty.

Maria Grimaldi ’18

Maria Grimaldi ’18
Delaware Valley Job Corps
Career Transition Specialist

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
ESC offered Community and Economic Development (CAED) which was exactly what I was looking for. Initially, I thought I would end up in the planning department of my county government. Instead I am working hands-on with disadvantaged youth in Job Corps, a program begun during the “War on Poverty” and “The Great Society” efforts of the late 60’s and 70’s. Working during my course of study, I took Work Force Development and Social Entrepreneurship, both of these disciplines I apply daily in my job.

Barbara Mann ’11, ’13

Barbara Mann ’11, ’13
SUNY Oneonta
Lead Programmer Analyst

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
When my boys were young I advised them I would go back to college when they both were in college. I did, and took 3 or 4 classes a semester for 4 years to get my degree while working a full-time and 2 part-time jobs.

Dennis Pragel ’07

Dennis Pragel ’07
Grand Atlas RRT
Senior Property Manager

How has your experience at ESC changed your life since graduation?
The degree opened many doors and gives you the confidence and security of knowing if things change in your career, you can move on.

Elias Youssef ’18

Elias Youssef ’18
Self Employed
Family Business

How has your experience at ESC changed your life since graduation?
Everything in my life has changed since my graduation from ESC. My way of thinking, to dealing with managers, to know how to search in order to get the optimum information for each case… and so much more.

Frank D’Onofrio ’13

Frank D’Onofrio ’13
PayPal
Senior Program Manager

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
ESC had the reputation of being the leader in distance learning. It also was part of the SUNY network, which gave it credence above most others. It also had some great teachers, who cared. I asked questions, and they were quick to make sure I was taken care of. I chose ESC, because the people who created it, made it so we could succeed and achieve our dreams.

Lynn Saum ’18

Lynn Saum ’18
SUNY Empire
Work Study Student – Administrative Support

What advice would you give to a prospective ESC student?
Never give up on your educational goals. If you stumble, you can get back up. You can absolutely do it.

Leora Cohen-Rosenberg ’18

Leora Cohen-Rosenberg ’18
Planned Parenthood Hudson-Peconic
PREP Health Educator

What inspired you to earn your college degree? What was your “moment”?
I knew I wanted to make a difference in the world and in my community and to gain the skills to do so, I needed a college degree.

Lesa Ransom ’18

Lesa Ransom ’18
New York State
Legal Assistant

Why did you choose to attend ESC?
ESC had all online classes or you could do an internship or class, more of a blended learning model. I was able to customize my degree in Weather Disasters which I found fascinating and it kept my interest the whole way through.

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.

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