Alumni: 84,000   Students: 17,000

Alumni Testimonials

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

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

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

Patricia Festa ’14

Patricia Festa ’14
District Treasurer
Auburn Enlarged City Schools

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

Kristen Holler ’13

Kristen Holler ’13
Executive Director
Albany Barn, Inc.

What do you think is the best thing about the college?
In my opinion, one of the best things about the college is the ability to fully customize your degree plan in order to learn the material that not only interests you, but will move you along your path to personal and career growth. I was able to, within the Community and Human Services area of study, delve into not-for-profit management, and specifically issues related to human resources development, which was my primary interest.

Jacqueline Brown ’09

Jacqueline Brown ’09
Management Analyst
Arlington County Government

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

Andrew Sinclair ’15

Andrew Sinclair ’15
IT Security Analyst
ActioNet, Inc.

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

Ana Rivera-Georgescu ’08

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

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

Rami Bou Khalil ‘03

Rami Bou Khalil ‘03
Operations Manager
Boukhalil Societé Moderne S.A.L.

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

Hani El Abed ‘05

Hani El Abed ’05
Digital Marketing Manager
United Arab Bank

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

Paul Najm ’16

Paul Najm ’16
Business Development Officer
Grappa Systems

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

David Ronis ’08

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

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

Jean Hachem ’05

Jean Hachem ’05
Owner
JgH-Architects

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.

Paulette Lawrence ’16

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

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.

Lisa Karrer ’13

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

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.

Heather Quigley ’15

Heather Quigley ’15
Fatherhood Case Manager
Family Enrichment Network

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.

Jacki Hannon ’15

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.

Chris Sapienza ’09

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

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.”

Terrence Manning ’01,’06,’09

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

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.

Kevin Burke

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

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.

Timothy Brown ’79

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

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.

Jacquelyn Cochran ’16

Jacquelyn Cochran ’16
Home Closing Supervisor/Trainer
GEICO

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!

Kurtis Kennedy ’07

Kurtis Kennedy ’07
Director of Research
Albany County Legislature

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.

Hady Aouad ’10

Hady Aouad ’10
Owner
Hady Aouad Consultancy & Management Firm

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.

Laura Williams French ’10, ’15

Laura Williams French ’15
Co-Founder & Director of Publishing Operations
Clare Songbirds Publishing House

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.

Robin Carter ’15

Robin Carter ’15
Counselor Assistant
Buffalo Guidance Group

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.

Amie Rogers ’15

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.

Ronald Heath ’02

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

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

Janet Simmons ’15
Program Asst.
The Bridge

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.

Francis Murray ’15

Francis Murray ’15
Manager
Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation

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.

Joanna Loomis ’15

Joanna Loomis ’15
Executive Director
Watertown Urban Mission

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.

David Turan ’99

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

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.

George Scott ’10

George Scott ’10
President
Business Consulting Services

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

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

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.

Debra Alimentato ’10

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.

Christine Robinson-Cooley ’01

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

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!

Daniel Hastings ’09

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

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

Nora Guy ’08

Nora Guy ’08
Webmaster
Redwood Credit Union

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

John Locke ’04
Technology Enhanced Learning Unit Coordinator
SUNY Plattsburgh

Why do you give back to SUNY Empire?
Realizing that I would not be where I am today without the support of the faculty and staff at SUNY Empire, and also realizing that state and federal funding for education is not likely to increase any time soon, I think it’s important to do what I can to help fill the void. I wish it could be more.

Francis Paul Muccigrosso II ’12

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.

Auristhela Cain-Reinen ’09

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

How did Empire State College help you shape your personal and professional goals?
It led me to expand and reinvent 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 for perseverance as they both went on to get multiple college degrees with amazing jobs.

Janet Nelson ’80

Janet Nelson ’80
President / Owner
J Nelson Enterprise LLC

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.

Peter Davis ’11

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

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.

Rafaela Vasquez ’08

Rafaela Vasquez ’08
Bilingual Social Worker
Family Service League

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.

Diane Savage ’83

Diane Savage ’83
Attorney
Self Employed

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

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.

Ann Turner ’86

Ann Turner ’86
Sr. Director of Advancement
Keuka College

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.

Sally Speed ’15

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

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

Tom Kara ’10
President/Owner
Kitlas Restaurant

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.

Deborah Falco ’11

Deborah Falco ’11
Executive Assistant
WAHVE

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.

Tonia Thornton ’13

Tonia Thornton ’13
Parent Services Referral Specialist
Child Care Solutions

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 !!

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