Alumni: 87,000   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.

Eleni Moraites ’16

Eleni Moraites ’16
Human Resources Representative
Northwell Health

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

Shah Powell ’16, ’17

Shah Powell ’16, ’17
NYC Department of Education

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

Lois Barth ’12

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

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

Paul Antonellis ’00, ’03

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

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

D. Jeremy DeMar ’14

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

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

Queva Pizarro

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

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

Corey Rooker ’16

Corey Rooker ’16
Transportation Supervisor
Port Byron Central Schools

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

Cynthia Wandursky-Sciacca ’87

Cynthia Wandursky-Sciacca ’87
Retired

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

Chuck Braman ’99

Chuck Braman ’99
Bandleader
Self-Employed

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

Mark Spawn ’07

Mark Spawn ’07
CEO
The Spawn Group, LLC

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

Diana Rishani ’10

Diana Rishani ’10
Teacher
American Community School at Beirut

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

Vilma Denisia ’15

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

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

David DiSanto ’09

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

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

David Riegert ’10

David Riegert ’10
Developmental Assistant
New York State

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

Shannon Dankert ’14

Shannon Dankert ’14
Community Service Coordinator
Cortland County Probation

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

Margot Stornelli ’04

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

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

Patricia Festa ’14

Patricia Festa ’14
District Treasurer
Auburn Enlarged City Schools

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

Kristen Holler ’13

Kristen Holler ’13
Executive Director
Albany Barn, Inc.

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

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.

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