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.

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Hady Aouad ’10
Group Finance Manager
Ramaco & Rafa Group

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 Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
The discussions in each course that we’re having give an important touch to our understanding of the material.
The fact that a single course might have a diversity of Nationalities will provide us with a bigger understanding of the topic based on each experience. So we’re not limited to the facts and knowledge we face in our demographic location, but it will widen our horizon to see the same box from different angles.

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?
The advice I can give to a current student is to benefit from all the workshops and discussions that every course will provide you. If being a listener will help you 25-30%, you will complete the remaining 75-80% through a positive discussion while elaborating each subject. Remember, what you see in real life/job environment is a bit strange from what you learn: course discussions will narrow down the gap.

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!

Nora Guy ’08

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Nora Guy ’08
Webmaster
Redwood Credit Union

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I was working full-time while raising a toddler and was looking for a degree program I could complete in my free time. Plenty of universities offer distance learning programs but Empire State College offered the best combination of convenience, affordable tuition and a campus-backed degree program from a reputable institution. My mentor, Renee O’Brien, was helpful and knowledgeable, and together we were able to tailor my degree program to my specific needs so that I graduated quickly (within three years), and also received some credit for prior learning.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Less than six months after graduation, I landed my dream job! I am a web designer at a $2.7B credit union here in the San Francisco Bay Area. I get to use my visual arts background, along with the information technology courses I took while completing my AA, to help design and develop my employer’s online presence – website, online and mobile banking, and the employee intranet. I love that I have a career which allows me not only professional fulfillment, but the opportunity to help others achieve their financial goals and dreams. My company is also very active in the community and it is an integral part of our culture to “give back”.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My most recent major project was an overhaul of our mobile banking app. We had an app that worked well but needed a fresh coat of paint as well as other user interface enhancements. Additionally, my team and I added a left side menu to increase usability and further adhere to our brand. The newly redesigned app is currently being highlighted in our branches to encourage its use and reduce lines. It’s also received rave reviews from our Members.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Keep going!! There were days I stayed up until 1am studying. I’d have to wake up around 6:30am to get myself and my son ready, him dropped off at daycare, and myself to work for a full day (8:30 – 5:30) before coming home, cooking dinner, cleaning the house, getting my son to bed and then doing it all again… I had a lot of long nights and the process was a LOT of work. But sooo worth it to walk across the stage at graduation.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I am the first (and so far, only) person in my immediate family to earn a four-year degree. When the picture attached was taken, we asked my son – who was about to start kindergarten – if he knew where we were. He said “We’re at Mama’s gradulation!” (graduation + congratulation). I’ve been encouraging him to go to college ever since.

John Locke ’04

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John Locke ’04
Technology Enhanced Learning Unit Coordinator
SUNY Plattsburgh

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I received both my BA and MA from Empire State College. I chose ESC because a) I could afford tuition at a state institution, b) ESC’s flexible approach to scheduling meeting with mentors was very attractive, and c) I especially appreciated the ability to “custom design” my degree programs.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Working with my mentor and other instructors to design my various electives forced me to really research my field(s) of study. I learned more about the disciplines into which I eventually entered than I would have if I had just been “spoon fed” the course content.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I produced a documentary on US/Cuban relations as a component of my Master’s thesis, which involved filming in Havana and Washington, DC. I returned to DC for a conference a few years later, and was surprised to find that many of the officials and attendees recognized me and knew my work.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
The acquisition of knowledge is perhaps the greatest give one can give to one’s self. Even at 3:00 AM, when you’re cramming to meet a deadline, don’t forget to appreciate this fact

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Working with the incredible faculty at Empire State inspired me to change my life’s direction. As soon as I received my Master’s degree I began to build a strategy to transition from the corporate to the academic community. Helping other people learn is my most satisfying professional experience to date, and it would not have been possible without the years I spent as a student at ESC.

Francis Paul Muccigrosso II ’12

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Francis Paul Muccigrosso II ’12
Social Worker
Veterans Administration Medical Center – Canandaigua, New York

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose SUNY Empire State College for a number of reasons. As a non-traditional student, I selected a college that would encourage my intellectual curiosity while respecting my employment and family commitments. SUNY Empire gave me the best opportunity to do all of these things … and more. I selected SUNY Empire State College because its accreditation provided an advantage for pursuing my future academic and professional objectives. I was accepted into an advanced academic program immediately after graduation and was employed thereafter – SUNY Empire started me on that journey and prepared me very well.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
SUNY Empire State College helped me shape my personal and professional goals by providing provocative course materials, challenging professors and the environment for me to expand my vision to hone my skills as a student and as an academic. SUNY Empire introduced me to a significantly higher level of technology and to understanding the processes of research and development that has provided for me the very foundation on which my work is nearly wholly based. From a personal perspective, SUNY Empire State College allowed me to fell validated and pertinent – especially inasmuch as I began my college career as an older student.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Induction into the SUNY Buffalo School of Social Work Institute on Trauma and Trauma-Informed Care. I provide a trauma-informed care perspective of psychotherapy to US Veterans of every age and description throughout the world.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I was able to utilize the resources at SUNY Empire to help me navigate my educational pursuits and my professional ones, as well. I recommend doing the very same thing. I consider my professors mentors in many ways (I maintain contact with a few today) and I “bounce” ideas off of them regularly. SUNY Empire State College is more than an institution for higher learning – it can be a path leading towards a more rewarding and purposeful life and career – I know that SUNY Empire was that for me.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Best of luck with your studies at SUNY Empire. If there is anything that you think I might be able to assist with, please do not hesitate to call on me. I am listed in the Alumni web page or can be contacted at fpmuccigrossoii@netscape.net

Auristhela Cain-Reinen ’09

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Auristhela Cain-Reinen ’09
Caseworker/Senior Aide II
Southold Town Human Resource Center

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Needed a program that would work with my busy schedule as a Drug and Alcohol counselor and a mother of 2 school age at the time of my enrollment. It was the best decision I made. I was able to work with my mentors who worked with my schedule. They were flexible and very understanding. I respected and loved every mentor I had. My primary mentor Nina T. was absolutely the best. If I can, in the near future I am considering completing one of the Certificate programs that are now offered on line.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It led me to expand and re invent myself to take chances; and have a higher self esteem as a woman and a mother. My children saw the difference and I believe I was a good role model on perseverance as they both went on to get multiple college degrees with amazing jobs.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I am currently in a job that I really enjoy and have a good future to advance.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Keep going!, don’t give up. One day at a time it is worth it.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I am proud to be a Empire Alumni!

Janet Nelson ’80

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Janet Nelson ’80
President / Owner
J Nelson Enterprise LLC

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
SUNY Empire provided the best mix of accreditation and flexibility. I was not so interested in a university that wouldn’t be fully recognized by employers or graduate schools. Also; there was no way as a full time employee that I could finish by bachelors going to night school, only.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It supported my promotion from a non-exempt to exempt employee and to set the stage in getting a Masters in Systems Engineering on my way to executive positions.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Winning the Xerox President’s Award for excellence and in getting my business-consulting company, The WorkOut Consortium, certified as a Woman Owned Business.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Remember to treat your ‘unique’ methods of accruing credits the same as if you were attending traditional classes. Meaning; carve out the time needed study and do the work. It’s not a fit-it-in, series of learnings.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Don’t quit studying, learning, and/or getting further education once you graduate. Think of it like eating; you can’t quit having meals just because you ate breakfast!

Peter Davis ’11

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Peter Davis ’11
Music Therapist, MT-BC, LCAT
Music Therapy Institute of the Music Conservatory of Westchester

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose Empire State College (ESC) because it offered the academic program I needed, combined with a flexible schedule that allowed me to make a living while pursuing my academic studies. In addition, in-class courses were offered at a nearby location that was easy to reach by public transportation. The best thing about ESC is the faculty and administration. My teachers, advisers, and mentor (Dr. Lisa Parkins), were supportive, caring, enthusiastic, and insightful. With their help, I completed my B.A., graduating from ESC with a 4.0 GPA. This allowed me to pursue and receive my Master’s Degree, which then opened the door to my new career as a board-certified, licensed music therapist.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
As an ESC student, I learned that I was capable of achieving more than I ever thought possible. Thus, I learned how to study, learned how to ask for help, realized a love of learning, set my academic goals high, and discovered my “inner scholar.” Having done this, and nearing completion of my studies, my mentor and I began to look beyond my bachelor’s degree. What might come next? What could I do with my degree? What did I want to do? Based around my interest in working with developmentally challenged children, my mentor and I designed a course of study centered upon a summer-long internship as a music teacher at a school for children with cognitive and emotional disabilities. It was this experience that led me to pursue music therapy at the graduate level, and become a board-certified, licensed music therapist.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
No single career moment or highlight comes to mind. Instead, by bridging my life-long career as a professional musician into a new career as a music therapist, I was able to open up a new chapter, professionally and personally, in my life.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Stay ahead of your studies, for this allows you time (oh so precious), to attend to other courses, review and revise your work, allow for the unexpected, and maintain a sense of balance. Further, and importantly, attending to your studies lowers the burden on your teachers, who have their own work and responsibilities to attend to.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
To my fellow alumni: My experience at ESC changed my life for the better. I remember my fellow students and teachers with great affection. For current students: Go for it. Count on your teachers and advisers, set your sights, make your plans, achieve your goals, and realize success. You can do it-you are worth it.

Rafaela Vasquez ’08

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Rafaela Vasquez ’08
Bilingual Social Worker
Family Service League

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Time was always an obstacle in reaching my goal of completing my college education. When I lived in New York City, I was only able to attend one class per semester and with young children it was difficult; having a full time job and then rushing to school twice per week in the evening after work. I had to transfer from a senior college to a community college; trying to at least obtain my Associates Degree; however, it was still difficult. When I learned about Empire State College; the flexibility and how most of my credits from former colleges attended were accepted, it was a dream come true. I finally saw that light at the end of the tunnel. I remember applying for Empire State College to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree and my wonderful mentor, with all the credits I had, worked with me and I proudly graduated from Empire State College with two degrees; Associates and a Bachelor’s Degree by completing a dual degree program!

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Empire State College assisted me in believing in myself; that no matter what obstacles may cross your path in life, one can move forward and succeed. I attended the Hauppauge center and my wonderful mentor, Prof. Ivanov, in addition to the tremendous professors that played the role in my being the professional that I am today, provided me with the confidence that it’s never too late to succeed. I was able to take care of my family, have a full time job and finish college due to attending Empire State College. I was able to study independently, but always knowing that my mentor and professors were always there to back me up. It was independent study, but I was never alone.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I will forever be grateful to Empire State College for the professional that I am today. As mentioned previously, my mind was set on going for my Associates; I graduated with two degrees and was motivated to move forward. Today I am a Licensed Social Worker; assisting individuals who are struggling with substance use disorders.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
The advice I would give to an Empire State College student is reassure them that if his/her life is busy, raising a family; working, or caring for an elderly parent or disabled loved one, they are in the right place. No matter what obstacle you as a student may be facing, trust that your mentor and professors will work with you to gain the goal of completing your college education.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
All I can emphasize is that I will forever be grateful to Empire State College and I am sure that all my fellow alumni agree with me. Good luck and move forward, do not get discouraged. Always remember that when one drives into a tunnel, one never stays there. Eventually, you will come out into that light.

Diane Savage ’83

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Diane Savage ’83
Attorney
Self Employed

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I was interested in labor law, and wanted to go to law school. I first needed an undergraduate degree. I was able to graduate ESC in 1 year because of all the credit I earned for life experience.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
ESC allowed me to enter law school.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
After working on a death penalty case for 14 years, I convinced a federal judge to set aside the death sentence for Mr. George Goode.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Listen carefully to the advice of your mentors.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
It’s never too late to get a college or advanced degree.

Eric Loyd ’15

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Eric Loyd ’15
CEO
Bitnetix

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I had taken a class or two a long time ago in pursuit of completing my BS degree. Then life got in the way. This time, the “SUNY Complete” program got a hold of me and I decided it was high time to finish things. I completed my AS in one semester (December, 2014) and then completed my BS the following semester, along with 50+ hours of prior learning assessment. I had been dreading to finish my degree because of the time required, but Empire State College made the entire process take just nine months from start to degree.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
As an entrepreneur, I have watched peers and colleagues get MBAs and go on to teach others about entrepreneurship. Not having my BS was an obvious obstacle to that process for me. Now, I can finally get to where I want to be professionally, even though as the CEO of the company, it won’t affect my paycheck! 🙂

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Being recognized as an industry leader in my field with an MVP Award in 2014 by my peers

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
TALK TO YOUR PRIMARY MENTOR! (And do what they say.) My primary mentor was incredibly helpful and knowledgeable about what I needed to accomplish and when it needed to be done. If she did not know the answer directly, she knew where to go to get one. Without her, I might still be (happily) at Empire, finishing up my last semester this coming fall, but it was her advice that allowed me to positively exploit my prior college level learning and obtain as many PLA credits as I did.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. There is a lot of writing and if you’re not comfortable with that, then you need to be. They are there to help; use them.

Ann Turner ’86

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Ann Turner ’86 
Sr. Director of Advancement
Keuka College

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
Back in the early 1980s, I was working at Kodak and wanted to get into sales. I was told by the national sales mgr. to “get my degree.” I was in the process when they needed a sales rep to go to NYC. I accepted but still wanted to finish getting my BS degree. Local colleges in Westchester would denying many of my already earned credits which bummed me out. I then heard about Empire, applied and was accepted. The best thing in addition to the credits (and the ones I earned from my experience) was that I earned my degree on my time at night and on weekends.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Having a BS degree in Marketing allowed me to be a serious candidate as I moved through the ranks at Kodak. It gave me the confidence to apply to many great positions in sales management and marketing. It led me to my most favorite job which was VP and General Manager of the Americas Region where I was responsible for the sales of movie film across North and South America. Personally, my career relocated my family eight times and we all grew from the experiences living in the north and south, large cities and smaller and even an international four years in England.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
A career highlight for me was helping other women get promoted to new roles because I had positions where I could be an advocate for them.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Don’t give up. It is so worthwhile to have a college degree. Employers look at that because it gives credibility and shows you have the initiative to get your degree and you have all the knowledge you learned during the process.

Sally Speed ’15

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Sally Speed ’15
Adjunct Instructor/President of It’s A Natural Farm, Inc
SUNY Empire State College/self-employed

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I started taking classes at ESC in the early 1990s because my work required frequent travel and prohibited attendance at regularly scheduled classes. I attended classes for about two years on a part time basis before having to leave college due to family issues. After a 20 year hiatus, I returned to complete a BS when my employment went from full time to part time and it looked like I might have to find a different job. I loved it so much – the flexibility, the connection to classmates and instructors, the sense of community – that once I completed my BS, I stayed on to complete my Masters. I currently teach part time at ESC so, even after graduating, I still am a part of this institution.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I began my MA studies with clear goals – developing and credentialing my knowledge, skills, and abilities in adult learning (I spent 30 years conducting workforce development training). I also was very interested in the use of technology in learning. ESC offered courses that broadened and strengthen these goals and the flexibility inherent in the personalized degree plans allowed me to meet those goals more closely than colleges with more rigid course requirements for each degree.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Curriculum development has always been an interest of mine. This summer I’ve worked with another ESC faculty member to revisit and revise one of the undergraduate courses. This is the course I taught in the spring semester so my experience with students in the course was very current. I thoroughly enjoyed discussing students’ responses to the original course and the ways in which the course could be modified to improve learning. ironically, this is the first time I’ve worked on a curriculum located in Moodlerooms. Overall, it was a great experience and one that was consistent with my goals when I started my MA.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Two pieces of advice; 1. Don’t give up!! I started college in 1973 and graduated with a BS in 2012 and a MA in 2015. Life intervenes but YOU can make a degree happen! 2. Take full advantage of the opportunities ESC offers. Work and family concerns will demand your time but to fully ‘reap what you’ve sown’ in attending ESC, one has to fully immerse oneself in the courses. Become a true life-long learner.

Tom Kara ’10

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Tom Kara ’10
President/Owner
Kitlas Restaurant

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I had previously enrolled in ESC correspondence courses some years ago and was familiar with the college. ESC offers not only an online,quality curriculum but also a person to person mentoring/oversight of my academic progression towards my degree and goals. Its’ best quality is the level of academic excellence combined with the personal guidance afforded to its’ students in pursuit of their academic and personal goals. Also the affordability of an online education.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Upon leaving my college enrollment many years ago, I always felt an unfinished task remained in my life. Enrolling in online courses at our local community college and ESC provided a sense of satisfaction in re engaging in the academic process. The degree program helped to fill in the information background and develop new outlooks and skills for managing our business. A more complete skill/knowledge set is invaluable within today’s economy.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
Mine is an ongoing process of creating a more successful, growing business in a changing, challenging economy. Economies change constantly, experiencing growth and regression at times; they are the dynamic setting of businesses, consumers and labor. Being a part of it is demanding but hopefully, exciting and rewarding.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Rewarding endeavors always entail extra demands but the satisfaction of accomplishment is worth it. Have the desire to accomplish your educational pursuits; these are major lifetime milestones not to be missed.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
We’ve heard many times that education is a lifelong process and though our daughters are either in college or will be, I hope to continue to pursue a future degree program focusing on my first love of history and writing. Can’t think of a better way to spend retirement years.

Deborah Falco ’11

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Deborah Falco ’11
Executive Assistant
WAHVE

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose ESC so that I could earn a college degree and still be able to balance my professional and family life. In my opinion there is no one best thing about Empire State College. But if I had to pick just one it would be the personalized study plan – tailored to the degree I wanted to earn.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
After earning my BS at Empire, I was accepted into SUNY Stony Brook to the Master or Social Work Program. In my professional life, I was promoted to manager. Above all however, was the sense of personal fulfillment.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest professional achievement was the publication of “Caring for Seniors in Suffolk County”, a resource guide that I collaborated on with a Social Work Committee of which I am part of.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Keep your eyes on the prize (the degree) but be sure to stop along the way and take stock of everything you are learning – that knowledge will serve you well someday.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
If possible enroll in at least one class that is a study group. Although the individualized learning is great, it is also good to meet with your cohorts/classmates to avoid a sense of academic isolation. I am still friendly with several people that I met during study group classes.

Tonia Thornton ’13

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Tonia Thornton ’13
Parent Services Referral Specialist
Child Care Solutions

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 really caters to non traditional students. I needed to continue working full time to support my family and I liked the variety of classes and modalities of learning. I was impressed with the college’s emphasis on “THEIR STUDENTS”. I think the best thing about the college is the fact that students are in control of their journey.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
The college, no the staff took a vested interest in ME. My Mentors listened to me and gave me a slot of support. Well, I actually had two mentors. My second Mentor Desalyn DeSouza was my biggest cheerleader. She really understood me and always encouraged me to hang in there and to keep pushing. She allowed me to be HUMAN and WEAK and HONEST and yet always treated me with respect and dignity. Her expertise as a mentor was CRUCIAL in my success.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
At one point I was the Coordinator of a Department and felt like I was truly making a difference. The highest point of my career so far has been being an intricate part of a department that continually is changing to meet the needs of families in the community. I am very proud to be doing what I do and I know for fact that we make a positive impact on families. Also, I have been sitting on a Board of Directors for a large not for profit in our County and I work on a couple different Advisory Councils in the community.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
HANG IN THERE and ASK LOTS OF QUESTIONS!!! Get to know your Mentor and instructors. Those relationships will make or break your experience. Reach out to other students in your classes and build support groups via social media…getting together outside of school… etc… Build bridges and keep your GOAL in mind… ITS WORTH IT !!

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I have made some very dear, dear friends through my experience at Empire State College and it has been such a pleasure to walk the journey of life with you all. I count myself BLESSED to have you in my life…. Empire State College gave me more than an education, it gave me RELATIONSHIPS that have impacted my life and contributed in molding me to be THE BEST ME THERE IS!!!!

Danavette Morrison ’15

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Danavette Morrison ’15
Admissions Coordinator
Phoenix House

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I choose this college because of the convenience to work, go to school and attend to the demands of my family and life. Getting individual attention from my assigned mentor helps keep me on track with my school work. I would have never done online classes until I attended ESC. I love online classes now.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Empire State College allowed me to take courses relevant in my line of work. I was able to obtain knowledge about different things in my field of work.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I am proud that I am the Admissions Coordinator at a substance abuse center and as I continue on to my Bachelors degree, I look forward to getting my substance abuse licence to be a counselor.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Work hard because it pays off. Communication with professors and mentors is very important. Things happen in life that may distract us and help us lose focus but if we communicate and speak to our mentors so we wont fail any classes.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
This is a wonderful college, designed just for you. You will never find a college like this anywhere else. Thank you ESC for making my college experience the greatest.

Jeremy Bagley ’14

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Jeremy Bagley ’14
Executive Director
American Red Cross – Greater Rochester Chapter

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I chose ESC for graduate school because I wanted to get an opportunity to learn with other working adults. Too often in a traditional college setting – the professor’s assume that everyone has the same schedule as the average 18-22 year old. I didn’t. I work 50-55 hours per week in a highly competitive and dynamic career – I needed the time to be able to study and learn with people who also have such demanding scheduled. ESC provided that for me with instructors and professors who understand the rigors of academia and real life often have conflicting priorities.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
ESC helped me shape my professional goal of becoming a non-profit chief executive before the age of 40. The information I absorbed from the professors and fellow students was critical in shaping my collaborative work model and learning to achieve mutual goals with a diverse population of people.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
My proudest career moment was being selected to Executive Director of the American Red Cross in the city that I love – Rochester, New York. To be able to serve this community and be a leader in it feels amazing to me each and everyday. I know I achieved this goal at 38 years old is something that I’m extremely proud of. Eight years ago I was a clerk in a pet store – today I’m among a respected group of Rochester, NY community leaders.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Don’t think of Empire as an online college – think of it as a college that uses technology to facilitate learning. The worst way you can go about your studies (much like going about your life) is to pretend you’re on an island. In your private life and professional life – you cannot be successful if you silo yourself – the same should be said about studying at Empire. Sure, you do most of your work at home by yourself – but if you miss the opportunity to learn from others – if you don’t take the time to know your professors, you won’t get out of Empire State College everything you possibly can.

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.

Cristy Dwyer ’13

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Cristy Dwyer ’13
Senior Trainer
Outreach Training Institute, Org.

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
http://www.esc.edu/news/releases/2012/act-dwyer-presentation.html https://www.esc.edu/news/around-college/2014/cristy-dwyer-student-academic-conference.html

I was inspired to return to school when attending my husband Hugo Dwyer’s (’06) graduation. In fact, it was during his Center for Distance Learning (CDL) pre-graduation that I met Meg Benke, then dean of CDL, who made me feel so welcome and engaged. The next day at the Saratoga City Center, after meeting Hugo’s mentor (and happily my future mentor) Suzanne Benno, I knew I wanted to do this too! The best thing about the College continues to be the support faculty and staff, many of whom I’m still in touch with on a regular basis.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
For me, the academic experience at SUNY has been transformational. My now five-year association with Empire State College (AS ’08, BS ’10 & MA ’13) has not only afforded me the opportunity to realize my long-time goal of pursuing a college education, but has allowed me to pursue advocacy efforts and engage in a discourse with leaders on local, state and national levels,” said Dwyer. “Without question, the policy courses I have received at SUNY have given me the knowledge, self-assurance and confidence to feel worthy of a seat at the table. Last but not least, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the extraordinary support I’ve received from the faculty at ESC. Without their continuous enthusiasm and encouragement I would not be where I am today.”

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
https://choose.esc.edu/lp/partnerships/outreach-training-institute/

Definitely envisioning and helping shepherd to completion an articulation agreement between SUNY Empire State College and my non-profit affiliate, Outreach Training Institute (OTI), that affords OTI’s students’ who are studying to become Credentialed Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Counselors (CASAC’s) academic credit towards their own undergraduate degrees at ESC. The partnership encourages many adult students to continue their education by engaging on an academic level that was previously thought to be out of reach by many of the students. To date, OTI has referred many of our students who are now enrolled at ESC and working towards earning their undergraduate degrees. I couldn’t be more proud of this partnership!

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
All your hard work will pay off sooner than you think! While finishing my last term of graduate studies on my MA in Social Policy, I worked as a part-time student advisor and lecturer at Outreach Training Institute training adult students who were working to earn their CASAC’s. 3 months into my tenure OTI, and immediately following the successful oral defense of my masters thesis, I was asked to join the organization on a full time basis as Senior Counselor. Having my MA made all the difference, not only in terms of my marketability, but more importantly it gave me the knowledge, expertise and self-confidence to succeed.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Stick with it – your family and friends will forgive you for all those times you opted to study and write another paper instead of attending those social gatherings. If they’re anything like mine, they will be proud members of the audience at your graduation!

Jeffrey Jones ’15

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Jeffrey Jones ’15
Lieutenant/Paramedic
Village of Fayetteville Fire Department

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I choose Empire State College both because it allowed me to be flexible with the way I studied and also because of the prior learning credit that was available to me. Empire State clearly understands that people learn all of their lives and even though it may not be formal classroom learning it’s still college level nonetheless. Empire State was a great choice for me and I’m proud to say that I attended. Thanks.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
Empire State College worked with the Fire & Emergency Services Higher Education (FESHE) guidelines to help me create a program that will benefit me in the future. The FESHE plan is something that all of those in high ranking fire and emergency services positions should follow.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
The highlight of my career thus far is being promoted to the position of Lieutenant at the Fayetteville Fire Department.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Take advantage of prior learning credits and take advantage of your mentor to help you through the process.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
Good school with great opportunities.

William McClain ’10

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William McClain ’10
Branch Manager
US Army

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
ESC offers so much flexibility to military students. I completed four classes while deployed. The faculty truly support their military students!

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
I had so much fun earning my BA in History that I started and completed my Masters in Military History. In fact, I still communicate with several ESC instructors and my adviser.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I would say my proudest career moments are earning the President’s Volunteer Service Award and earning my Doctor in Strategic Leadership from Regent University.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Always be a life-long learner. Your mind must always be challenged if growth is expected

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I am proud to be a ESC alumni!

Megan Pistolese ’14

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Megan Pistolese ’14
Environmental Educator
The Nature Conservatory

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I recently landed my dream job with The Nature Conservancy as an Environmental Educator. On top of this experience, I am an avid public speaker and have given annual lectures and presentations concerning environmental issues for Earth Week at Jefferson Community College, and Environmental Days for the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Jefferson County 4-H club. SUNY Empire has pushed me to consider pursuing a master’s degree in the environmental field.

Helen Martin ’12

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Helen Martin ’12
Exports Director (M&H) – 3rd Ward Councilwoman for the City
Milligan & Higgins and the City of Johnstown

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I selected Empire State College because it enabled me to pursue my Bachelor’s degree while working full time. But my decision to “attend” ESC Distance Learning was solidified by the support and encouragement I received from my mentor. Returning to school later in life can be daunting enough but after obtaining my AA from Fulton-Montgomery Community College I knew I wanted my Bachelor’s degree as well. Jacqueline Castledine was wonderful. She listened to me and together we created my learning plan for a concentration in Public History. So, for me the best thing about the College is the attention given to each and every student, the respect they are shown for their personal goals and the encouragement they give throughout the entire process – from application to graduation.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
When I started at ESC I had an AA in Humanities but wanted to pursue Public History due to my involvement with the Johnstown Historical Society and my role as President of the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium. I am passionate about the historical aspect of Johnstown and wanted to master the tools to be able to share that passion with not only tourists but other city residents. Working on my degree plan allowed me to incorporate various aspects of how to best promote the history of our area to those who are unaware of it. I have incorporated my educational goals into the work I do with numerous organizations in Johnstown as well as my role as a City Councilwoman. Working with the City Historian to promote history related activities and encouraging the City to take a more active and visible role in promoting the history of Johnstown in their marketing has been both challenging and rewarding.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
It is hard to say what is my proudest career moment because I have been fortunate to have experienced many such moments! I was named the Chairperson of the Mohawk Valley Region Path Through History Committee in 2012 following my graduation from ESC and working with other outstanding historians and regional tourism professionals created a phenomenal historical tourism product that has been recognized by the Regional Economic Development Committee as well and the State Economic Development representatives. That work is ongoing. I have continued my work with the Elizabeth Cady Stanton Women’s Consortium and am Vice-President Elect of the Johnstown Historical Society. All of my community involvement is extremely rewarding to me which makes it doubly hard to single out one particular “moment”!

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
I would have to tell any ESC student – or anyone considering attending ESC to stay focused and work towards your goal – whatever that may be. While I was so fortunate that experience was wonderful from day one I realize that that may not be the same for everyone. Don’t let that deter you – ESC wants to see you succeed and will do whatever needs to be done to see that that happens. The personal growth and satisfaction you will achieve will serve you well the rest of your life – no matter what your age is when you start your degree program.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I would just like to thank the administration of Empire State College, the professors and my fellow classmates in all of the classes I took while working on my degree. Since I was a Distance Learning student I “met” all of my classmates in a web-based setting but the interaction between us was probably more intense and interesting than had we been in a brick and mortar classroom. I am hoping to start work on my Masters degree within the next few months and am looking forward to participating in the experience once again! Sorry I don’t have a recent photo to attach at this time!

Grace Caddell ’14

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Grace Caddell ’14
Center Director 
Astor Services for Children and Families

Why did you choose Empire State College? What do you think is the best thing about the college?
I first chose SUNY Empire when it was a new program tucked away in a little, white house on the SUNY New Paltz campus. Life experience credits attracted me. My return and successful encounter was propelled by life experience and later cemented by being introduced to my mentor, Shelly Dixon.

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
My mentor and my professors encouraged and empowered me to complete my goals.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
When a parent of a former Head Start child called to tell me her son was leaving for college. She said she quoted me frequently, “Nothing should stop him from getting a degree.”

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
Persevere! To quote a coffee mug given to me on my graduation, “The tassel is worth the hassle.”

Why do you give back to Empire State College?
I’m proud to be an alumni and believe it’s an excellent way for non-traditional students to complete their education.

Deborah Gilchrist ’10

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Deborah Gilchrist ’10
Habilitation Specialist I
NYS-Broome Developmental Services 

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 is the close network between the students and professors. The environment is an easy, laid back environment in which to encourage the learning process. This environment worked best for me because it eliminated the high stress of getting work done by a deadline (except for the final projects, of course!). It allowed me to read and prepare my research proposals and discussions at my leisure. This allowed me to retain more information rather than rush and memorize information just learned. The support of everyone at the college was phenomenal!

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
The college, kept me focused on both my personal and professional goals by the development of my own degree plan, using my interests and coursework already completed. This was done through working with my mentor (who was fantastic!), as well as a formal course in how to formulate and write a degree plan, to be submitted for approval.

What is your career highlight or proudest career moment to date?
I had been working as a Medicaid Service Coordinator with New York State, when the governor made cuts in the state workforce. I had also just graduated from Empire State College when my job was cut. The human resource dept. were prepared to place me down in a lower position where there was an opening, however, there was another opening in another position which required a Bachelor’s Degree. They checked on my personnel file and saw that I had the proper degree for the position. In two weeks I was transferred into the better job with my new degree that I had for only 6 months! This saved my earning potential and maintained my lifestyle and even improved it as I was the only one in my county that held this position. It boosted my self esteem, which is leading me to complete my personal learning goal of obtaining my Master’s degree.

What advice would you give to a current Empire State College student?
When things seem to be a little overwhelming, connect with other students or your mentor! I personally had connected with my Mentor when I was having trouble. She was a great listener and helped to solve my problem with ease.

Anything else you would like to share with fellow alumni and students?
I still would LOVE to see a Master’s program in social work, however, I enjoyed my learning at Empire College and I enjoyed my fellow classmates. They all had good ideas and suggestions in of the classes.

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