THE ALUMNI COLLECTIVE A QUARTERLY MAGAZINE
A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE When Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius theorized in 1896 that burning fossil fuels — then mostly coal — would change the planet’s temperatures, most people thought something as seemingly inconsequential as humanity could never impact something as seemingly vast as Earth. By the time SUNY Adirondack was founded in the 1960s, scientific evidence revealed Arrhenius was right. Carbon dioxide was building in the atmosphere, increasing each year as humans warmed their ever-larger homes, drove ever-larger vehicles and mass produced plastic wares to fill those houses. Long before “global warming” and “environmental change” became commonplace in daily conversation, SUNY Adirondack students were celebrating Earth Day — first marked in 1970 — and joining college students around the world to raise awareness of the newfound movement of environmentalism. Today we have a much greater understanding of how methane and other greenhouse gases impact climate, and our students are even more concerned than previous generations.
SUNY Adirondack encourages traditional ways to actively fight global warming, including: • Recycling; • Obtaining more than 25 percent of its energy from solar power; • Installing geothermal systems in campus buildings; • Avoiding use of pesticides and other harmful chemicals on the campus farm and orchard, the produce of which is used by culinary students at Seasoned; • Conserving energy use through control systems across campus; • Encouraging use of bicycles and buses through partnerships with CDPHP, CDTA and Greater Glens Falls Transit; • Following Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) standards in new construction; • Developing programming — guest speakers, art exhibitions, film screenings, etc. — that encourages sustainability and inspires conversation surrounding global warming issues; • Working to develop and implement an agroforestry plan for college farmlands;
Clearing invasive plants and planting native flora that encourage pollination; and
Offering electric vehicle charging stations
But the college also addresses the environmental crisis in deeper ways.
Sustainability is incorporated into on-campus programming and, increasingly, curriculum. Of course, our Agricultural Business and Outdoor Education programs focus on the environment, but our professors also make connections in disciplines that include Art, Biology, Chemistry, English, Science, public speaking and animal agriculture.
We do these things because we know education fuels innovation and that humanity can, indeed, change the future of our planet.
VOL. 6 | SPRING 2022
MUCH LIKE THE COLLEGE COMMUNITY, SUNY ADIRONDACK ALUMNI ARE A MICROCOSM OF OUR BROADER COMMUNITY. They come in as students, searching, find themselves here, then bring their gifts out into the world as caring agents of change. In this quarterly magazine, we celebrate all the ways our alumni shape our world, close to home and afar, with their hearts always rooted right here at SUNY Adirondack.
SUNY Adirondack is committed to fostering a diverse community of outstanding employees and students, as well as ensuring equal educational opportunity, employment, and access to services, programs and activities, without regard to an individual’s race, color, national origin, religion, creed, age, disability, sex, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, familial status, pregnancy, predisposing genetic characteristics, military status, domestic violence victim status, or criminal conviction. Employees, students, applicants or other members of the SUNY Adirondack Community (including but not limited to vendors, visitors, and guests) may not be subjected to harassment that is prohibited by law, or treated adversely or retaliated against based upon a protected characteristic. Inquiries regarding the application of Title IX may be directed to Lottie Jameson, Title IX coordinator, Scoville 326, firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 518-832-7741. Inquiries regarding the application of other laws, regulations and policies prohibiting discrimination may be directed to Mindy Wilson, associate vice president of Human Resources, Washington Hall, at email@example.com, or by calling 518-743-2252. Inquiries may also be directed to the United States Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, 32 Old Slip 26th Floor, New York, NY 10005-2500, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by calling 646-428-3800.
Bakers Business Owners Coaches Entrepreneurs Gardeners Health Care Administrators Higher Education Administrators Law Enforcement Professionals Nurses Researchers Trail Builders ... and so much more
400 TREES AND SHRUBS
HAVE BEEN PLANTED
ON CAMPUS IN THE
PAST TWO YEARS
MORE THAN 25 PERCENT OF SUNY
IS SOLAR POWER
10 ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING STATIONS
INSTALLED ON CAMPUS THROUGH
NATIONAL GRID AND NYSERDA GRANTS
MORE THAN 1.5 ACRES OF INVASIVE HONEYSUCKLE
AND COMMON BUCKTHORN
REMOVED SINCE 2020
“I owe a lot to SUNY Adirondack. I use everything I learned."
Tears build in Eileen Caliva’s eyes when she describes the warmth of the oven and the homey embrace of her grandmother’s kitchen as she, her mother and grandmother baked Italian cookies. “We’d bake trays and trays of cookies at Christmastime and give them away to friends and neighbors,” she remembered.
When she had children of her own — sadly, after her mom and grandma passed — she baked with them to carry on those cherished family traditions. “They were 2 years old, up on a stool so they could reach the counter and bake with me,” she said. “I wanted them to learn what I learned and to experience that feeling.”
When her children were young — they’re now 28 and 30, and Caliva describes her daughter as an amazing baker, and her son as a gourmet chef by hobby — Caliva worked at a YMCA. When her husband was transferred to the Capital Region and her children were done with school, she was looking for a change. “I had taken care of everybody — my
HOMETOWN: SYRACUSE, NEW YORK 2020 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH A DEGREE IN MANAGEMENT, MARKETING AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP PARTICIPANT IN SUNY ADIRONDACK’S STARTUP ADK CURRENTLY: BAKER AND OWNER OF CALIVA COOKIE CO.
dad, my brother, I’ve always been the one who helped my husband move up the ladder and to take care of the kids — but I knew I wanted something else,” she said. “I wanted something for myself.” So Caliva enrolled at SUNY Adirondack, taking all her classes online or at SUNY Adirondack Saratoga, which fit into her schedule and was more convenient for the Ballston Lake resident. “I worked during the day at the YMCA, and took classes in the evening,” Caliva said. “I made the right decision. This is such a nice atmosphere; people are so welcoming.” Caliva earned an associate degree in Management, Marketing and Entrepreneurship in 2020. She transferred to SUNY Empire and majored in Marketing. “I love marketing, but what I really want to do is start my own business,” Caliva remembered thinking. “So I took a semester off and dove in to learn everything I possibly could.” She registered for SUNY Adirondack’s StartUp ADK, a small-business startup and expansion course, and took two non-credit courses to learn WordPress, website design software. “I have complete control of everything and I wanted to be able to know
everything I could before I started my business,” Caliva said. “I wanted to do it the right way.” She opened Caliva Cookie Co. in July. “I always loved to bake,” she said. “I wanted to share that with the world.”
networking person, the baker and the delivery person. I do it all. And I love getting up every day. I love baking my biscotti; it brings me so much joy and happiness.”
Since offering sweet treats inspired by her grandmother’s recipes to the public, Caliva has been working to meet demand. Her products are included in Taste NY and have been offered at Arrowhead Coffee Shop, in tea packages through Linden and Co. and, most recently, Adirondack Welcome Center. Her biggest demand, though, comes through the website she created, www.calivacookies.com, and social media. She receives orders from around the United States, including Texas, Indiana, Illinois, Pennsylvania and, of course, the greater Capital Region.
“I love the social media aspect,” Caliva said. “That’s how I reach the majority of my customers, through marketing and social media.” She credits her time at SUNY Adirondack with teaching her skills she uses every day. “I use everything I learned in that program,” she said. “It’s just me: I am the marketer, the
Eileen Caliva of Caliva Cookie Co. will lead “Come Bake with Me — Let’s Make Italian Biscotti,” an April 23 class through SUNY Adirondack’s Continuing Education programming. To learn more or to register, visit https://www.sunyacc. edu/continuing-education-catalog.
“Professor Borgos was always my biggest cheerleader. ‘You can do this, you can have a better life,’ he told me.”
Tammy Brown knows that when people hear she has three children, each with a different father, three failed marriages and a dozen or so jobs in her rearview mirror, they have a tendency to look down on her. They think they know her just because they’ve seen some of her experiences on made-for-TV movies. And that is precisely why she wants to share her story. She knows her value and has proven that with hard work and determination, anyone can rewrite their narrative. “I took the long, hard road through life,” said Brown, a Schroon Lake native. The start of her story is familiar: She worked hard through high school, applied to college and was accepted.
But she just didn’t have the money. If her tale were an after-school special, that setback would have inspired her to start some amazing business to raise thousands of dollars in just weeks. If it were a Disney movie, she would have discovered a fairy godmother to pay tuition. But that’s not how life is, at least not for Brown. “You’re angry because you don’t understand why you worked so hard in high school,” she said. “So what do you do? You run off and marry the first guy who says he loves you.” In the ensuing years, she worked in different roles, moved around a bit, left two unhappy marriages and had three children.
She swore off men, put her head down and kept working, but life never got easier. “I realized, ‘I can’t keep going like this, I have three children I have to take care of,’” she remembered. She applied for Medicaid to ensure medical coverage for her children. While in the Social Services office, she was told about a program in which “displaced homemakers” could receive help paying for college and household expenses. “I knew the only way I could better the kids’ lives, and my life, was to go to college.” She enrolled at SUNY Adirondack and dove in. She discovered a love of
HOMETOWN: SCHROON LAKE, NEW YORK 1996 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN MANAGEMENT, MARKETING & ENTREPRENEURSHIP 2009 GRADUATE OF SUNY PLATTSBURGH WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN HISTORY AND MINOR IN MUSEUM MANAGEMENT CURRENTLY: OWNER AND OPERATOR OF BLUE RIDGE MOTEL photography and found her voice in a chapter worthy of a Lifetime movie.
and worked as events coordinator of the college’s Music department.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit. “I sat in the lobby and cried,” Brown said.
As a final project in a creative writing course, students had to write about a topic of their choice, then read it in front of the class. When it was Brown’s turn to present her essay about abuse she endured in failed relationships, the professor discreetly told another woman in class that she might want to leave the room.
After earning a bachelor’s degree in 2009, she secured more stepping-stone jobs. “It’s like I was clawing and digging my way to the top.”
But she got creative and found a way to renovate and refurbish half the 18 motel rooms (renovations are planned or under way on the remaining). “We replaced all the furniture — some of it was original to 1953 — tore out all the carpets, painted, installed new trim …” she checked off.
“During the first page, I described lying awake at night, hearing my ex come home and wondering what was going to happen,” Brown said. “And I could hear the other woman crying in the next room. It was eye opening for me. You go in thinking you’re the only one, but at the end, she came up, hugged me and thanked me because she was going through the same thing.” That further fueled Brown’s desire to write her own ending. Within a year and a half, she earned an associate degree, then started another run of career moves. “Every job, I was working my way up,” she said. “I was always trying to make that step up.” She enrolled at Plattsburgh State to study History and Museum Management. While there, she had internships at Fort Ticonderoga, Adirondack Experience and SUNY Plattsburgh’s on-campus museum,
When Schroon Lake Chamber of Commerce called to see if she wanted to apply for a vacant role there, the timing was right. “I was so happy to be back home and giving back to the community that raised me,” Brown said. Major health issues sidelined Brown in 2017, leading to four surgeries and months of recovery. She saw the ordeal as a sign she needed to slow down. But in 2019, she drove by Blue Ridge Motel and wondered about the owner’s plans for the vacant space. “I called to see what he was doing with the motel and he said, ‘I want to sell it,’” Brown recalled. “I could not watch another iconic motel go down the tubes and I needed a project.” She and her husband did a walkthrough and 15 minutes later, the couple made a decision. “We looked at each other and he said, ‘That’s a no-brainer,’” she said. They closed on sale of the property in December 2019 and kicked off 2020 with renovations. The plot twist was one no one could have expected:
The Browns renovated to create a breakfast area, industrial kitchen, office space and a gift shop, built a website and installed an online reservation system.
“My marketing from SUNY Adirondack came out of me. The whole marketing piece has been a huge success,” she said. The Browns welcomed more than 300 guests the first few months Blue Ridge was reopened. “Our trademark is one-on-one customer service not a lot of people do anymore,” she said. As she looks back at the journey that led to restored physical and emotional health, a nurturing and happy marriage, and a successful business, she feels a sense of pride in changing her story’s ending. “Online reviews say staying at Blue Ridge feels like going to Grandma’s house,” Brown said, beaming.
“It’s really important to me to build a culture and lay a foundation for what this program is going to become the next couple of years.”
HOMETOWN: BLAIRSTOWN, NEW JERSEY ATTENDED SUNY ADIRONDACK IN 2011-12 2015 GRADUATE OF EASTERN UNIVERSITY WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN MANAGEMENT 2020 GRADUATE OF NORTHCENTRAL UNIVERSITY WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN ATHLETIC ADMINISTRATION CURRENTLY: SUNY ADIRONDACK HEAD MEN’S BASKETBALL COACH AND COVID TESTING COORDINATOR “There’s no place like home” doesn’t have quite the same ring to it when a pair of Nikes click together instead of ruby slippers.
But for Maxx Sweet, being hired as SUNY Adirondack’s head men’s basketball coach was almost as much of a dream as Dorothy’s journey to Oz. Sweet grew up watching his father coach basketball, including Adirondack Wild Cats, a short-lived foray into pro hoops for the city. The family traveled back and forth between homes in New Jersey and Glens Falls. “The Glens Falls area has such a great atmosphere, it’s a great place to grow up,” Sweet told The Post-Star newspaper in early September. So, when Sweet saw the coaching position at SUNY Adirondack listed, applying was an easy decision. “It’s a great place to grow as a professional,” he said. After graduating high school, Sweet attended SUNY Adirondack, where he played on the basketball team for the 2011-12 season. “I definitely grew as a human being, as a man, in my year here,” he said. He transferred after his first year to be closer to his family. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Eastern University, where he played two seasons
and, after graduating, signed on to coach there for a season. With a plan to work in marketing, Sweet moved to Las Vegas. “After three weeks, I became so depressed that I needed to get back to basketball,” he said. “It was the only thing I knew and I needed that camaraderie.” He coached high school basketball (his varsity men’s team was ranked ninth in Nevada) and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) teams, offering camps and clinics. “There were kids from all around the city, and it was a great experience to be able to do a lot of community service with inner-city youth,” Sweet said. Sweet jumped at the opportunity to coach under Damian Pitts at Centenary University, returning to New Jersey as assistant coach. “He was a great mentor to me, from his vast coaching background,” Sweet said. “We developed two freshmen who became all-conference players and that led me to realize that coaching was going to be a long-term profession for me.” An offer from Hiram College led Sweet to Ohio, where he was lead assistant coach for three years, working under Chris Kibler, who was ranked 25th in the country. But when Sweet learned SUNY Adirondack was looking, he knew he
had to apply. “The opportunity to build a program from the ground up, that’s something I couldn’t pass up,” he said. He has big plans for the program, but they aren’t what you might expect. “We have three boxes we want to check for our players: Are you a good person? Are you going to come in and represent the program well, be an ambassador for the program on campus?; Are you able to focus on academics first? It’s ‘student-athlete’
You’re a student before you’re an athlete. We want people to take it seriously, earn a degree and build a future; And,
for a reason:
are you going to make us better as a whole? Are you a competitor who will win games and support the team?” Players’ success off the court is as important to Sweet as their athletic performance. He wants them to put themselves in a better position for long-term success. “I love the fact that SUNY Adirondack is a smaller atmosphere where you get to know everyone,” Sweet said. “It’s tough to fall behind here if you’re showing up and participating, working hard — there’s a sense of camaraderie here, where people recognize you and get to know you.” Kind of like returning home.
“I took botany and worked in the greenhouses and gardens, and that’s where I learned that plants make me really happy.”
Rachelle Thomas encouraged her toddler to stop and smell the flowers — and to examine moss in the shadows of the forest and inspect wildflowers growing in fields. When Thomas enrolled at SUNY
Adirondack, she was considering the medical field. She took an anatomy course and realized she didn’t want to be a nurse. The next science class she took was botany, taught by Dr. Tim Scherbatskoy.
“He’s so passionate about what he teaches, and he just opened up my eyes to the beauty
HOMETOWN: SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK 2013 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH A DEGREE IN LIBERAL ARTS: MATH AND SCIENCE 2015 GRADUATE OF SKIDMORE COLLEGE WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN HEALTH AND EXERCISE SCIENCE CURRENTLY: OWNER OF DAISIES AND DAHLIAS
of plants around us,” Thomas said. “It was in springtime, so we were learning about all these things as the earth was waking up,” she remembered. “Tim would come into class and ask if we saw the trees blooming on the side of the highway.” So Thomas took her daughter, Zevi, out on adventures to look at what she learned in the classroom. In high school, Thomas was a straight-A student, a member of National Honor Society and on the fast track to success. Her senior year of high school, she became pregnant. “I was the last one I expected to get pregnant,” she said. She spent a few years working at a local YMCA and a restaurant and, when Zevi was 2, Thomas enrolled at SUNY Adirondack, where the toddler attended day care on campus. “I wanted to prove to my daughter that she didn’t stop me from living a meaningful, purposeful life,” she said. The botany class at SUNY Adirondack led Thomas to the campus greenhouses and gardens. “That’s where I learned plants make me really happy,” she said. She graduated, transferred her credits to Skidmore College and earned a bachelor’s degree.
“I graduated and couldn’t find any jobs that fit my daughter’s school schedule, so I started gardening,” Thomas said. In late 2016, she turned what was a side job into Daisies and Dahlias, a gardening business that today has more than 150 customers and, in season, six employees. Daisies and Dahlias offers residential and commercial garden design, and creates and maintains planters, container gardens, perennial gardens, decks and patios, and seasonal decorations. “But we don’t mow lawns,” she laughed. “Landscapers just pop things in and often don’t think long term, but I take a holistic and scientific approach to gardening,” she said, describing how she digs up invasive plants and incorporates natives that support pollinators. The pandemic was a boon to the business, as many restaurants now offer outdoor spaces, and those areas need to be inviting. “We do a lot of restaurants in the Saratoga area,” she said. “It’s interesting doing so many restaurants in Saratoga because I have to make them all look unique, so it’s kind of like being in competition with myself.” Every project is specific to the client’s needs and visions. “I’ve learned that a lot of this has to do with garden
psychology,” she said. “Everybody has their own idea of what they think a beautiful garden is, and I have to figure that out. Some are hedgerow and hydrangea, and some are wildflowers.” Thomas’ background as an artist helps her create stunning arrangements, no matter the clients’ needs or budgets. “My business is unique because I’m an artist, so my designs are unique,” she said. “Sometimes I feel like I’m just painting with flowers.” Her approach to gardening spills over into everyday life, much as it did in Scherbatskoy’s class at SUNY Adirondack. “When you really look around, there’s art everywhere,” she said. “Gardens bring joy.”
SUSTAINABILITY ON CAMPUS The Farm @SUNYAdk operates as an organic farm following all USDA National Organic Standards in food production and avoiding use of industrial fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides. The Farm’s cultivation methods are primarily human powered. As a vegetable farm using solarpowered photosynthesis, the farm's net carbon footprint is negative, meaning we consume more carbon than we produce!
“I want to really dive into these passions that have been neglected while working in a corporate setting. I’d like to let those flourish.”
HOMETOWN: SOUTH GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK 2015 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH A DEGREE IN LIBERAL ARTS: MATH AND SCIENCE CURRENTLY: GARDENER AND BARN HAND Olivia Rooke had a steady job with decent pay and benefits, but after five years, she wasn’t happy. “I wasn’t getting much sun, I wasn’t active and enjoying myself,” said Rooke, who graduated from SUNY Adirondack in 2015. “I wanted to get away from corporate America; I made a commitment to things that make me happier, which meant leaving the financial security of big business.” When Rooke was a student at SUNY Adirondack, she took biology, botany, sustainable agriculture and geology classes, some under Dr. Tim Scherbatskoy.
“He was an inspiration and definitely helped fuel my love for science,” she
said. “I remember how animated he was and he was so excited about plant cells, I thought, ‘If I can be half as excited as this guy, I’m doing something right.’ He really nurtured my love.” The professor invited her to work in the greenhouse, where she learned to take care of saltwater tanks and habitats, ensuring water quality. While there, she befriended Rachelle Thomas, who cared for the flora. When Thomas opened Daisies and Dahlias, Rooke started following her friend’s work on Instagram. Eventually, she reached out and was hired to help with bookkeeping.
“I quickly found out I had very little experience with bookkeeping, but I was really good at digging in the dirt,” she laughed. “I just absolutely love being outside.” She started working on Thomas’ crew, helping care for plants, watering, pruning, planting — whatever needs to be done. “It’s very hands on and every day was the same, but every day was different: You always know you’ll be in the dirt and digging holes, but you don’t know where or what kind of garden.” Working for Daisies and Dahlias gets Rooke away from a desk, which she loves. “I have a garden at home, I’ve taken up birdwatching. I just love camping and hiking and being outside,” she said. “I’ve never been happier.”
FUN FACT! RACHELLE AND OLIVIA MET WHILE WORKING TOGETHER IN THE CAMPUS GREENHOUSE. SUSTAINABILITY ON CAMPUS
A PEER-TO-PEER PROGRAM
HAS BEEN DESIGNED TO
HELP STUDENTS RAISE
sustainability issues, encourage responsible behavior and help plan events and activities for residential and commuter students.
“In 15 years, you don’t know where you’re going to be because health care is always changing. I had no idea this was the path I was going to take and I love what I do.”
Health Care Administrators
HOMETOWN: SOUTH GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK 2005 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN NURSING 2015 GRADUATE OF EXCELSIOR COLLEGE’S BRIDGE PROGRAM, WITH BACHELOR’S AND MASTER’S DEGREES IN NURSING EDUCATION AND LEADERSHIP CURRENTLY: SERVICE LINE ADMINISTRATOR AND DIRECTOR OF NEUROLOGY AND STROKE PROGRAM AT GLENS FALLS HOSPITAL, ADJUNCT INSTRUCTOR IN SUNY ADIRONDACK’S NURSING PROGRAM
Cassandra Moore didn’t understand what the teacher at the front of the BOCES LPN classroom was talking about, so she raised her hand. “They said, ‘When you go to clinical …’” she remembered. “‘What is clinical?’ I asked. ‘I don’t even know what that is,’ and they said, ‘It’s when you go to the hospital and take care of patients.’ I raised my hand again and said, ‘I’m 17, I don’t think I should do that.’” Moore was enrolled in the licensed practical nursing program her senior year of high school by her school counselor, who knew Moore wanted to become a nurse. Then, the counselor went on maternity leave and Moore missed orientation, so the start of the program was daunting. She successfully completed it, though, graduated from high school, started work as an LPN at Fort Hudson Nursing Center and dove into SUNY Adirondack’s Nursing program. “It was intense,” she said. “I was one of five or six who were right out of high school; most had another degree or were returning adults.” After graduating in 2005, Moore worked at Glens Falls Hospital, Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital and, eventually, in Albany Medical Center’s Critical Care Unit.
“I found myself drawn to critical care,” Moore said. “I like the intensity, the detail orientedness, you never know what you’re walking into and I liked collaborations with physicians at one of our region’s most well-known hospitals. Working at Albany Med gave me the clinical skills I needed to grow my career.” While at AMC, she enrolled in a bridge program at Excelsior College, from which she earned a master’s degree in Nursing Education and Leadership. When she saw Glens Falls Hospital was hiring an education position in critical care, she applied and was hired. She helped establish the nurse residency and Critical Care 101 programs at the hospital. “That didn’t exist when I went to nursing school; you just got thrown in,” she said. “That’s where I got the passion for program management.” For years she cared for stroke victims at Albany Med. When Glens Falls Hospital began planning a stroke program, she dove in to help develop it.
“I like that I help the physicians develop the care nurses are delivering,” Moore said. “I’m still a
critical care nurse, but I have a bigger impact because the protocols and workflows I contribute to and monitor every day are affecting every patient.” That impact, on individuals and our region’s health care, was recognized by SUNY Adirondack’s Office of Alumni Relations, which in December inducted Moore into the college’s Trailblazers Society. The award recognizes individuals who demonstrate excellence in professional achievement, community service, service to SUNY Adirondack and/or outstanding spirit. Moore was promoted to service line administration/director of Glens Falls Hospital’s Neurology & Stroke Program in 2020, is co-chair of the hospital’s diversity, equity and inclusion committee, and teaches nursing students as a clinical instructor. “I tell the students, ‘In 15 years, you don’t know where you’re going to be because health care is always changing,’” Moore said. “When I graduated from nursing school, my job didn’t exist; I had no idea this was the path I was going to take, but I love what I do.”
“You’re going to be successful; you just have to bring that time and effort in. I love to bring students back who may not have thought they were fit for college or were intimidated by the idea.”
When Ryan Thomas was academically dismissed from college in the wake of his mother’s death, he knew exactly where to turn. “I came back to SUNY Adirondack,” said Thomas, who is now the assistant director of Registration and Records at the college. “I knew if I took a semester off from college, that would stall me out. SUNY Adirondack was my home.” After graduating high school, Thomas wasn’t sure what career might interest him, so he enrolled at SUNY Adirondack. His father is a graduate of the college’s first class, so Thomas knew he would get a good education and save a little money. “I had gone to visit a couple of colleges and I just didn’t want to go to a bigger school,” he said. Thomas started studying computer science, but lost interest. “I stopped showing up to class because I was
18 and didn’t know any better,” he remembered. He switched majors and started focusing on graphic design in what was then called Communications and Media Arts. He graduated in 2002 and made plans to attend SUNY Oswego the next fall. That summer, though, his mom — who worked at his hometown newspaper — died and, with her, his interest in all things related to graphic design. “I didn’t have a good semester in Oswego,” he admitted. “They dismissed me, I repealed it and they still said, ‘No,’ that I should take a semester off.” He returned to SUNY Adirondack, where an advisor helped him enroll in psychology classes. He transferred to Plattsburgh State the following semester and graduated in 2005.
“I was looking at grad school, but at that point, I wasn’t ready,” Thomas said. “I had worked a lot of laborer jobs — lawn crews, Stewart’s, Finch Pruyn, a commuter train and a lumberyard — so I didn’t see myself as somebody who would be in graduate school.” Instead, he enlisted in the Air Force. “I wanted to get out of the North Country and see my country and the world, and serve my country,” he said. He went to boot camp in San Antonio, Texas, was trained in bioenvironmental engineering, then stationed at Travis Air Force Base in northern California. He traveled throughout the U.S. for trainings and provided relief in Haiti after an earthquake in 2010. Thomas and his wife, also an Air Force veteran, moved to Briarcliff Manor after separating from the Air Force, where Thomas attended Mercy College. When his wife, now a
Higher Education Administrators
HOMETOWN: NORTH CREEK, NEW YORK 2002 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN COMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA ARTS 2005 GRADUATE OF SUNY PLATTSBURGH WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY 2016 GRADUATE OF MISSISSIPPI STATE WITH A MASTER’S DEGREE IN STUDENT AFFAIRS U.S. AIR FORCE VETERAN CURRENTLY: ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF REGISTRATION AND RECORDS AT SUNY ADIRONDACK veterinarian, was accepted into a vet program in Mississippi, they moved again and Thomas earned a master’s degree in Student Affairs and started work on a doctorate at Mississippi State University. The couple returned to this region and, a few months later, Thomas saw a job listing for an adult learner coordinator at his alma mater. “That position took advantage of my skills and experience,” he said. “I spent 11 or 12 years as a student, and I felt like I had so much experience. I’ve been at six different institutions, I’ve seen how they operate, I’ve seen the experience straight out of high school, as a transfer student, been through academic dismissal, returning as a veteran and as a married
Ryan Thomas’ father, Bill Thomas, was among Adirondack Community College’s first graduating class in 1963. The elder Thomas grew up in Pottersville and graduated in a class of seven students. “Growing up in a small town and trying to determine what you’re going to do with your future is quite a challenge,” Thomas said. “My father was a construction worker and I wasn’t really built to
person, then from bachelor’s to master’s and master’s to doctoral.” For four years, Thomas worked in the admissions office. “I loved that I could bring that experience and really explain to prospective students that I was a terrible student when I started out. I didn’t use any resources available,” he admitted. “But I returned as an adult learner and I was a different student. You can’t hold yourself accountable for what you did when you were 18. If you put in the time and effort, then you are going to be successful.” A promotion opportunity arose late in 2021, so Thomas jumped at the chance to help students in new ways. He certifies veterans for benefits and assists them through the process
be a hard-nosed constructor worker, so I wondered, ‘What do I do?’” As he was deciding, ACC was accepting applications for its inaugural class. He applied, was accepted and graduated with a degree in Business Administration. “I have no idea what would have happened to me if I hadn’t had ACC as a choice,” he said. After graduating, Thomas was drafted into the Vietnam War and served in the Army Reserve.
of securing them — part of his job he’s particularly passionate about; helps bring in transfer credits; and performs a lot of technology-driven support, which feeds his lifelong love of computers. But mostly he loves working at SUNY Adirondack because he has been in situations similar to those of many prospective students.
“I love to bring students back who may not have thought they were fit for college, or who are intimidated by the idea.” “I need to help people, to make a difference in their lives,” he said.
After six years, he married, moved to North Creek and then raised five sons. He has lived a life of public service, serving as Warren County town supervisor for 18 years, chairman of the board for seven years, and as commissioner of the Adirondack Park Agency for 13 years. When he retired from his long career, he said he “couldn’t just sit around,” so he worked as a lift attendant at Gore Mountain. He is a longtime volunteer fireman, still active
in North Creek Fire District after 45 years. When Ryan Thomas enrolled at SUNY Adirondack, Bill was happy. “I’ve always believed from my own experience that those first couple of years, especially when you graduate from a smaller school, it’s important to get your feet on the ground and ACC allows you to,” he said. “SUNY Adirondack was a good first step and it proved right for Ryan.”
“At the end of my career now, I’ve been lucky to have seen almost every aspect of the criminal justice system.”
Mike Wells worked as a New York state trooper, crime scene investigator, on the National Joint Terrorism Task Force and in the FBI’s counterterrorism division.
of mind, looked at the license plate, remembered little details about the car and the abductor,” he said, clearly awed. “He was convicted and, this kid, this could have ruined her life, but she went on to become a prosecutor.”
But the defining moment of his career is centered on a 12-year-old girl.
Wells always knew he wanted to work in law enforcement, but after high school wasn’t quite ready to dive into college. Instead, he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. “I did my time, grew up and buckled down,” he said.
“That’s one case I feel I had a part in a positive outcome,” said Wells, a 1986 graduate of SUNY Adirondack’s Criminal Justice program, describing an abduction in the early 1990s. “It was literally a stranger danger: A little girl, 12 years old, was riding her bike in Chestertown and a complete stranger who was a registered sex offender was driving by, grabbed her and, 20 hours later, she came walking out of the woods.” Wells was called in within a few hours of the child being taken. “I worked the whole thing, through the trial,” he said. “She was the strongest kid you’d ever want to meet. She had a presence
He enrolled at SUNY Adirondack and, while a student, worked part time for Lake George police. “I was applying concepts learned in the classroom to the real world,” Wells said. The college provided Wells a foundation in penal law and criminal procedural law. “The instructors were top-notch,” he said. SUNY Adirondack prepared him for his career and it’s also where he met his wife. Right after he started working in Lake George, he bumped into
an acquaintance in a campus hallway. “She had gotten a ticket and wanted to know what to do,” he remembered. “I had just started and didn’t know anything, but Lisa (now his wife of three decades) was there and she introduced me to her.” The mutual friend arranged for the couple to attend a comedy show that night. “We met up there and it was love at first sight and we’ve been together ever since,” he said. “She’s been with a cop the whole time and I think that’s huge because anything I’ve done, she’s had to deal with: If I was gone for six months at a time; had late-night callouts; missed family things, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day … it’s not just me doing the job, it’s my wife.”
Among the many things Wells did in his career was becoming a state trooper, first stationed in Massena while Lisa was attending college in Potsdam. “With the St. Regis Indian Reservation, there was a lot of conflict
Law Enforcement Professionals
HOMETOWN: LAKE GEORGE, NEW YORK 1986 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE U.S. MARINE VETERAN, RETIRED NEW YORK STATE POLICE SENIOR INVESTIGATOR CURRENTLY: SARATOGA COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY’S OFFICE INVESTIGATOR involving gambling, illegal casinos, cigarette smuggling, a lot of civil unrest, riots, armed standoffs,” he said. Together they moved back to the Lake George area, as he was stationed in Chestertown, then Wilton. After a few years, he started working part time in crime scene investigation, then full time as part of a forensic unit in Loudonville. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Wells worked in New York City and Albany, providing additional security. In 2002, he was promoted to investigator and assigned to the counterterrorism section of what later became the New York State Intelligence Center. “Things were ramping up,” he said. In 2006, he was promoted to senior investigator and led the unit. “Our responsibilities were basically to build up the intelligence capabilities of police agencies in the state, try to coordinate counterterrorism efforts at a statewide level,” he said. Wells was in on the ground floor of developing a statewide network of field intelligence officers to assist in centralized counterterrorism reporting and investigation. He spent six months in a police executive fellowship program at FBI Headquarters, was assigned to the National Joint Terrorism Task Force in northern
Virginia, worked in several different units of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division, and had a fellowship in the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis in Washington, D.C. In 2011, he was transferred to a special investigations unit, an antiterrorism task force with the FBI in Albany. “I can’t really talk about most of it,” he said. “But a lot of what I did in all these jobs was keep information flowing, to keep command staff informed of things that were going on and how it might affect the state.”
Wells retired from the State Police in 2014, but after a year realized he wasn’t ready to be out of the game entirely. He worked for a few years with a private investigation company and now serves as an investigator with Saratoga County District Attorney’s Office. “I’ve had a great career and I got to do a lot of things I never thought I’d be able to do or see,” he said. “At the end of my career now, I’ve been lucky to have seen almost every aspect of the criminal justice system.”
Throughout his decades on the job, Wells saw a lot of things that were difficult to handle.
“Anybody looking at this career, there’s so much you can do, especially with an organization like the State Police or FBI,” Wells said.
“You compartmentalize,” the father of two admitted. “If it’s a crime involving adults, you’re used to it, but ones that involve children, you couldn’t help but be a little emotional. You try to be a dad when you’re home and a cop when you work. There were a couple times when you had a real young victim and you just come home and hug your children and thank God you have what you have.”
“There are so many opportunities: You can fly a helicopter; be a dog handler; if you’re a computer guy, you can take off in that direction; or get into crime scene investigations.
For all the tragedy he witnessed, Wells also learned a lot, on the job and by attending trainings for intelligence analysis, critical thinking, forensics and writing, among other critical skills.
I’m one of those people who want to do a little bit of all of it and it has worked.”
FUN FACT! WELLS’ DAUGHTER, PHOEBE WELLS, FOLLOWED IN HIS FOOTSTEPS AND STARTED HER STUDIES AT SUNY ADIRONDACK. TODAY, SHE IS ASSISTANT DIRECTOR OF ENROLLMENT COMMUNICATIONS AT THE COLLEGE. PHOTO: MIKE AND PHOEBE PARTICIPATE IN "TAKE YOUR DAUGHTER TO WORK DAY" CA. 2000.
“There’s so many times that I knew I was doing the right thing.”
HOMETOWN: WATERTOWN, NEW YORK 1966 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH A DEGREE IN NURSING 1991 GRADUATE OF SKIDMORE COLLEGE, WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY CURRENTLY: RETIRED Sandra Simpson remembers opening the door to the student lounge at Adirondack Community College’s Hudson Falls campus and seeing a cloud of blue. “Everyone was smoking,” she remembered. “We had to go outside to sit under the trees to get our breath.” She and her then-sweetheart (now husband of nearly 60 years), Joe, would have ice cream or cups of coffees between classes at a diner next door. Groups of six or eight students would gather at a local restaurant to study. Once she began work at a hospital, Simpson and the other nurses had to wear all-white uniforms — always skirts or dresses — replete with a traditional nurse’s cap. When doctors — always male — entered the room, nurses were expected to give up their seats. The world has certainly changed a lot in the more than 50 years since Simpson was a student at SUNY Adirondack, but a lot has stayed the same. “I was in Panera a couple of years ago and I saw some women sitting at a table and it looked like they had their books out. I heard something about ‘nursing’, so I boldly went over and told them my story,” Simpson said. Simpson’s family moved to the Glens Falls area right after she graduated high school. She enrolled in Plattsburgh State’s nursing program, which included two years of clinicals in New York City.
“That freaked me out,” Simpson admitted, explaining how the nursing students were told not to leave Metropolitan Hospital in their white stockings because people would recognize them as nurses and mug them, hoping they were carrying drugs. “The last straw was when a woman was raped right outside our building,” she said. She returned to Glens Falls. But her father believed young women should be educated and have a career, so he told her, “You’re going to ACC, I don’t want you to stop school because you might never go back." She enrolled in 1964 as a Business major, but switched to Nursing after one semester. She took classes and worked for a doctor right in Hudson Falls. She lived with two roommates in an apartment on Main Street and would walk to work and classes. Simpson would take the bus to Glens Falls to visit her parents, who lived on Lincoln Avenue. On a walk from the stop to their house, she met a fellow student. “My old boyfriend was walking me, saw Joe [Simpson], whose parents lived on Sheridan, and said, ‘Will you walk my girlfriend home?’ And that was that. I ditched the other guy,” she laughed. The couple married a month after Sandra graduated from college. Simpson worked in various capacities as a nurse before she discovered a passion for mental health care. “I had to find a niche,” she said. “I didn’t really like bedside nursing. I worked
a lot of different nursing jobs until I found one I liked.”
Throughout the years, she worked as a supervising nurse in a clinical setting, performed mental health evaluations in a jail, made home visits and taught first aid to a group of young women working toward their GEDs. “Not everybody likes mental health. They ask, ‘Isn’t it scary?’,” Simpson said. “I only got scared twice.” Each time a patient — once an older woman and once a “very disturbed” young man being admitted to jail — became physically aggressive. Some cases made her sad. One that still haunts her involved a young person in a family to whom she was assigned. “I knew right from the getgo that it wasn’t going to be a good thing. I can’t give details, but it turned out horribly. It was in the papers and it was a bad scene,” she said. But more often, she was inspired by her work and the impact she made. “Mental health nursing was more personal and I felt like maybe I was doing what I needed to be doing,” she said. “Nursing is just a wonderful profession for anybody who has the heart for it,” she said.
“SUNY Adirondack gave me the foundation for what I would come to learn and teachers like Clint McCarthy, Steve Ovitt and Nick Ameden, they helped me develop who I became as a person. They helped provide me the right connections to do what I wanted to do.” — Zach Rabeler
HOMETOWN: WARRENSBURG, NEW YORK 2016 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN OUTDOOR EDUCATION 2020 GRADUATE OF SUNY PLATTSBURGH WITH A BACHELOR’S DEGREE IN ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES WITH A MINOR IN ECOLOGY CURRENTLY: EARNING A MASTER’S DEGREE IN FOREST RESOURCES WITH A CONCENTRATION ON HUMAN DIMENSIONS OF NATURAL RESOURCES AT UNIVERSITY OF MAINE
HOMETOWN: ONEONTA, NEW YORK 2016 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK WITH AN ASSOCIATE DEGREE IN OUTDOOR EDUCATION CURRENTLY: TRAIL MANAGER AT WILDERNESS PROPERTY MANAGEMENT Katelyn Kuklinski and Zach Rabeler met at SUNY Adirondack. But the pair found more than love in the college’s Outdoor Education program; they each discovered their life’s work. “Mountain biking has become a huge part of my life, which is pretty crazy because I never thought it would be,” admitted Kuklinski, who earned a degree in what was then called Adventure Sports. After graduation, she worked as a snowboarding instructor and mountain bike guide for a few years, then enrolled at SUNY Plattsburgh, from which she earned a bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies with a minor in Ecology. Today, Kuklinski lives with Rabeler, her fiance, in Chestertown, while earning a master’s degree in Forest Resources with a concentration on Human Dimensions of Natural Resources from University of Maine. Her research is focused on the impact of mountain biking on rural communities. “The mountain biking industry is so important and becoming pivotal to our communities here, so we’re
hoping this research helps us understand the economic and environmental impact,” she said.
mother suggested he look into SUNY Adirondack’s Outdoor Education degree program.
She grew up in the woods around her family’s Warrensburg home. “I was outside at my house, on those trails and doing my own thing,” she said.
“I was not really into academics at the time and was having a lot of trouble,” he remembered. “My mom had the idea that I go into Adventure Sports, and that got me to focus on my education because I was interested in what I was doing.”
Rabeler, however, grew up skiing and was introduced to mountain biking, a sport both his father and stepfather love, at a young age. “I spent a lot of time mountain biking,” he said, describing a trip to British Columbia, a leader in the mountain bike trail industry. “I was always into mountain biking, but out there I became more in love with it, even though I didn’t think it would be a possibility for me as a profession.” His love led him to build trails in his backyard, well across his neighbor’s property line. “I ended up getting in trouble for that,” he laughed. When it came time for college, Rabeler didn’t know what he wanted to do. He studied Liberal Arts, then Wind Turbine Technology. But after a few unsuccessful semesters at another community college, Rabeler’s
He loved it from the first class he took, a ski instruction course. “It was a higher-level course with all these kids who had been in the program for like two years,” he said. “I was intimidated because all these guys had developed friendships already. But I didn’t need to be, because we’d have cookouts at the Ski Bowl; they are great people and we are all into the same things.” While working on a degree, Rabeler was an intern at Wilderness Property Management in Wevertown, building mountain biking trails at the Ski Bowl in North Creek. That led to seasonal work at WPM since. “Next summer will be my seventh with Steve [Ovitt, the owner],” Rabeler said.
In the off-season, Rabeler works as Ski Patrol at Gore Mountain. As much as he loves being on the slopes, his heart is on a bike. He shared his love of mountain biking with Kuklinski. “We bike all the time,” Kuklinski said. “Our lives revolve around it.” So much so that when Kuklinski started work on a master’s degree, she knew what she wanted to research. A systemic literature review yielded only 164 academic articles about the social, economic and ecological impacts of mountain biking.
“We aren’t sure yet of the environmental impact,” she said. “It’s a really young sport.”
But it’s one that’s growing immensely in our region, in large part because of the efforts of a growing network of people like Kuklinski and Rabeler, who advocate for the sport and its potential to build community, protect the environment, create jobs and keep people in the region.
“Mountain bikers are grateful for the work we put in, we’re constantly being thanked, and to see people excited about something we’re doing in the wilderness and get people outdoors and recreating,” Rabeler said,
“well, my hope is that they’re gaining better appreciation for their local wilderness and, hopefully, try to conserve what’s in their backyard and in the Adirondacks.” By creating awareness around trail systems — including the Gurney Lane trails, which Rabeler worked on with Wilderness Property Management and which were named by singletracks.com as the No. 1 bike trails in New York state and deemed a top spot to bike by Red Bull Bike — Kuklinski said they’re creating reasons for people to visit and live in the southern Adirondacks.
“Those are place-based connections,” she said. “If kids are skiing on West and biking or hiking at Gurney, they make a connection to nature and want to advocate for the environment. And, they might think, ‘I’m going to go away for college, but I grew up in this amazing place, so I’m going to come back.’”
That philosophy brought Rabeler and Kuklinski back from Utah, where they lived and worked in Little Cottonwood Canyon. “We’ve come back here and we really love the Adirondacks and where we live,” Kuklinski said. “We’re really excited to be in this
“My connections are rooted in SUNY Adirondack and I love that.” — Katelyn Kuklinski
incredible mountain biking community.” Rabeler has dozens of other reasons he feels such deep connection to the area. “I can’t even think about leaving,” he said. “Each trail we’ve developed has become like a child, something I want to see taken care of.”
SUNY ADIRONDACK'S CULINARY ARTS CENTER
SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES THE CULINARY PROGRAM SPENDS
$20,000 A YEAR ON LOCALLY SOURCED
MEAT AND PRODUCE,
reducing carbon footprint by cutting down on shipping and supporting sustainable agricultural methods
THE COLLEGE'S CULINARY PROGRAM, DINING HALL AND
EINSTEIN BROS. BAGEL CAFE SEND
ABOUT 5,000 POUNDS
OF PRODUCE, COFFEE AND EGG SHELL SCRAPS TO THE CAMPUS
FARM FOR COMPOSTING EACH YEAR, SAVING MORE THAN
$800 IN FERTILIZER COSTS
CULINARY DONATES BETWEEN 40 AND 60 POUNDS OF FOOD
TO OPEN DOOR MISSION EACH ACADEMIC YEAR
THE COLLEGE'S RESTAURANT, SEASONED, USES: A high-temperature dish machine to ELIMINATE
THE NEED FOR drying chemicals and reduce the amount of water used
CONTAINERS for all takeout, no straws and
(bottles, cans, plastic, paper, etc.)
MOTION SENSOR LIGHTS AND PRECONTROLLED TEMPERATURES TO LIMIT ELECTRIC AND FUEL USE
THE FARM @SUNYADK SUPPLIES AS MUCH PRODUCE AS POSSIBLE TO INCORPORATE INTO THE CULINARY ARTS CURRICULUM AND SEASONED MENUS
“As we sense we are reaching critical ecological tipping points, it's more important than ever that we, as an institution of higher learning, make space for meaningful dialogue, action and collaboration with our campus community.” — Scott Royael, SUNY Adirondack's sustainability coordinator
START HERE April 22 is Earth Day, an annual event to demonstrate support for environmental protection.
Adirondack Community College students celebrated the first Earth Day in 1970, by cleaning up Bay Road.
As educators, the SUNY Adirondack community commits to creating opportunities for our students to think bigger than themselves and understand the importance of being an educated citizen. Higher education has long been the place where change and justice are discussed and debated. There is not always agreement, but the hope is that our students and greater community are richer from the experiences. Some causes we discuss and debate are fleeting, while others we see decade after decade. Among those long-fought battles our earliest students faced and, in the time since, their children and grandchildren continue to combat, is climate change. There is, clearly, no easy fix for climate change. The world’s leading scientists have for decades suggested how we move forward as individuals and as a society to reverse damage done, but disagreements about solutions, technological limitations and bottom lines have prevented the widespread change many believe is necessary.
At SUNY Adirondack, we regularly evaluate and change how we do things to ensure our campus is as sustainable as possible. Even more importantly, though, we instill in our students a recognition of their impact on the world and their capability to effect positive change. Our professors nurture inquisitiveness, encourage creative problem solving and challenge our students to think critically about the world around them. Whether our graduates head straight into their career fields or further their studies at other institutions, we help them build a foundation to assist in working toward a healthier future for themselves, our community and the world. They leave us as innovators and creatives with the ability to comprehend big issues; the compassion to see the impact those problems have on individuals; and the knowledge and drive to make a difference. Sincerely,
Kristine D. Duffy, Ed.D. President
640 BAY ROAD QUEENSBURY, NY
“Those who contemplate the beauty of the earth find reserves of strength that will endure as long as life lasts.” — Rachel Carson
GREAT FUTURES START HERE. FIND EVERYTHING YOU NEED AT SUNY ADIRONDACK.
Learn more at www.sunyacc.edu/admissions
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