SUNY Adirondack Community Roots: Alumni Collective Issue 1

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THE YEAR 2020 CHALLENGED US IN WAYS WE NEVER ANTICIPATED. Early in the year, faced with a global pandemic, we retreated to our homes, sacrificing our daily routines for the greater good. We embraced family time; returned to our roots, making meals and baking from scratch, and creating crafts and artwork; we dusted off board games and puzzles, reliving the family game nights of our youth. When we finally left the security of our houses, it was to be in nature, to breathe in fresh air and feel the warm sun on our backs upon our region’s gorgeous waterways and foot trails. We saw our neighbors and friends raise their collective voices to call out injustices and demand action to right others’ wrongs. The persistent calls to lift up those who have been mistreated, demand justice for those who were murdered and repeatedly traumatized, and loudly and emotionally plead for a new America galvanized the world to stand with us. None of us is free and equal until all of us have the freedoms and rights about which our founders wrote. SUNY Adirondack remains a beacon of hope to all who wish to forge new lives, fulfill big dreams and are willing to challenge themselves to think in new ways. Our diversity comes in all forms and we pride ourselves on meeting students where they are and guiding them to where they want to be. Our success is their success.


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.

Archaeologists Artists Business Leaders Community Builders Educators Entrepreneurs Health Care Workers Lifelong Learners Police Officers Tourism Leaders


Alumni are the bricks and mortar of any college. The generations of students who have attended SUNY Adirondack since its founding in 1961 paved the way for the innovative direction the campus is heading. Our alumni have successfully built a 21st-century learning institution that is a stimulus for economic development, partnerships and leadership.

OUR COMMUNITY SUNY Adirondack is a leader in a vibrant region known for its natural beauty and entrepreneurial spirit. As a teaching- and learning-centered community college, the school is committed to the educational needs of the community and serves as a driving force of the area’s economy.



AFTER GRADUATION (compared with a national average of 83 percent).



(compared with an average two-year college loan debt of $19,600).




“My SUNY Adirondack professor helped me get on the road to what I love and what I want to do.”


Rocco is a wonderful success story! He started out college and did not do well, by his own admission. When he came back, he did a GREAT job. He often got over 100 in my classes (VERY rare!), and worked for me as a student tutor and assistant.

Top photo: Rocco in front of Mound 1 at the Shady Grove Site (22QU525) in Mississippi, working on a burial removal in 2012 Bottom photo: Dr. Nicholas P. Herrmann, Professor Val Haskins and Rocco at Cahokia Mounds, Illinois, archaeological site

He received the Anthropology Student award and was very active in the Anthropology Club. I’m proud to say that Rocco studied with one of my first students, Dr. Nicholas P. Herrmann, who is quite well known and established. It was a great honor to have Rocco be one of my first academic “grandsons.” He finished his MA, and has been working as an archaeologist in Greece and throughout the Southeast, but especially in Alabama.



HOMETOWN: QUEENSBURY, NEW YORK 2006 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK / 2008 BA GRADUATE OF SUNY POTSDAM 2012 MA GRADUATE OF MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY CURRENTLY: COORDINATING DIRECTOR AT TENNESSEE VALLEY ARCHAEOLOGICAL RESEARCH When Rocco de Gregory graduated from high school, he enrolled at SUNY Adirondack and, within two semesters, decided college wasn’t for him. “Like a lot of kids, in my head, I wasn’t prepared,” he explained of his decision to quit. Four years later, he enrolled again, that time as a condition of moving back in with his parents. “I thought, ‘I’m going to outsmart my parents; I’ll take one class and it’s going to be something I want,’” he said, describing how uninteresting he found computer programming, his area of study the first time around. “‘They’ll never know my plan, haha.’” He signed up for an introduction to archaeology class with Val Haskins, a professor of anthropology/archaeology in SUNY Adirondack’s Social Science division. That’s all it took: de Gregory was hooked. “For the next two and a half years, I took all anthropology classes, went on international trips to Peru and Bolivia, it was the first time I left the States,” he said. “Three or four weeks in Peru and Bolivia altered my perception of who I am, who we are as a culture and what other people are.” Without realizing it, anthropology was the career de Gregory wanted much of his life. When he was about 5 years old, his aunt, a travel agent, gave de Gregory’s

sister a coloring book from Egypt. “I thought it was the coolest thing and, from that point on, I wanted to deal with history,” he recalled. “I didn’t know it was archaeology.” His interest didn’t wane until his junior year of high school, when the adults in his life told him being an archaeologist was unrealistic. “They all told me, ‘That’s not a real job, you need to go into learning how to program computers or web development,’” he said. The dream became a reality for him when he worked on a summer field study on Rogers Island while at SUNY Adirondack. “Once I got that it was real, I became unstoppable,” he said. After graduating from SUNY Adirondack, he went on to earn a bachelor’s degree from SUNY Potsdam. “The great thing was, 100 percent of my credits at (then-) ACC transferred,” he said. He applied to seven graduate programs, was rejected by five and offered little funding by the remaining two. At a physical anthropology conference a month later, he tracked down every professor who rejected him and asked why. Based on the feedback he received — and advice he sought from Haskins — he took a job in commercial archaeology to get real-world experience.

When he reapplied to graduate school a year later, he was accepted by several and offered full rides to a few. De Gregory chose Mississippi State University. “It was a big adjustment,” he said. “I didn’t know anyone, but I packed up my little Nissan Sentra and went.” While working on his master’s degree, he spent three summers in Greece looking at skeletons. He has worked on five continents, led high school field trips throughout various European countries and worked on projects for the United Nations.

“It’s all because Val gave me the experience and made me realize, ‘You can do this,’ ” he said. Today, he is the coordinating director at Tennessee Valley Archaeological Research, an archaeological research and cultural resource management consulting firm in Huntsville, Alabama. But he’s still very much the little boy who was awed by images of ancient worlds. “It’s mind-blowing to be the first person to pick something up that hasn’t been seen in hundreds or thousands of year, then start to understand people are people, regardless of time or space,” he said. “Our cultural materials might be different, but we bury our dead the same — with care, with love.”

“That first moment I picked up a camera, I was like, ‘This is what I’m going to do.’”

FUN FACT! Sidekick Creative, graduates of our Start-Up ADK program, designed the logo for Coker’s business. Read more about Start-Up ADK on page 19.



HOMETOWN: CORINTH, NEW YORK / 1994 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK CURRENTLY: OWNER OF GALLERY NINE NORTH, GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK Erin Reid Coker was struggling as a business major his first semester at SUNY Adirondack. “I was wondering why I was there, what I was going to do,” he said. In high school, he found art classes fulfilling, so he decided to try something creative and registered for a photography class. Today, Coker is a highly sought-after photographer and owner of a thriving business, Gallery Nine North. “As somebody who never picked up a camera growing up, I feel very lucky to have found an outlet. Always being quiet and reserved, it was gratifying to find something to give me a creative way to express myself,” he said. After graduating from SUNY Adirondack, Coker had a long career as a photojournalist at a local daily newspaper. Capturing breaking news, sports and portraits forced him to talk to strangers — an area in which the business classes at SUNY Adirondack helped. “The business classes, even sociology and psychology classes, really relate to what you encounter interacting with people through photography,” he said. “It’s a challenge meeting somebody and reading the room and personalities, and then connecting to get a successful photograph.” As he saw the news industry decline, he began to plan for the future, developing a business plan and establishing a clientele.

“Sometimes it’s frustrating creating something one day and it’s gone forever the next,” he mused, explaining how fulfilling he finds his photography business. “Wedding images are more meaningful; you know those works are going to be around forever and they’ll have an impact on the families.” Despite seemingly everyone saying, “Oh, I know him,” or “He helped us when …,” Coker was reluctant to list his many contributions to nonprofit groups and projects. “That’s the kind of thing, well, I don’t really think about all the things I do because I don’t do it for recognition. I have a hard time just being center of anything, or acknowledgment in general,” he admitted. Easy to believe about a man so seemingly serene. In person, he is slow to make small talk, but quick with a boyish grin or a softly spoken and oft-surprising one-liner. His presence is so unassuming, it’s easy to see how people let their guards down and he is able to capture intimate moments others might miss.

His photographs, though, command attention, as does his impact on the community. He helps photograph the South High Marathon Dance and is a member of the Adirondack Balloon Festival board (something he said he started

because a client wanted photographs of the event, but morphed into his wanting his 10-year-old daughter, Lucy, to remember the event and its impact on the region). He and Lucy spend a few days a week helping socialize (and sometimes photographing) cats at North Shore Animal League. For many years, he shot images for the Brave Will Foundation and continues to do so for Night to Shine.

“Somebody told me once to donate your time, treasure or talents,” Coker said. “I don’t have a lot of treasure. I don’t always have time, but talent is something I can give.” He credits SUNY Adirondack, for which he is now a contracted photographer, with helping him discover that talent. “The fact photography brought me out of a funk, even depression, when I was younger — the impact of finding an outlet to express myself — that was important,” he said.

“The quality of the teachers was outstanding,” said Mark, explaining how things he learned at ACC are still useful today in running a successful business.


David, left and Mark, right, at a family wedding

Identical twins Mark and David Carpenter might have been heading in different directions when they graduated from North Warren Central School, but they started their journeys on the same path. For two years, the young men commuted to what was then Adirondack Community College with two other North Warren graduates and played soccer on ACC’s men’s team. In 1978, David graduated with a degree in liberal arts with a focus on science, and transferred to what was then Albany College of Pharmacy. He went on to earn a master’s degree in

psychology and neuroscience from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, then a doctorate in pharmacy at Philadelphia College of Pharmacy. Today, he is head of U.S. Medical Affairs Strategy for Indivior, a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company. Mark graduated from ACC with a degree in business, then earned a bachelor’s degree in business from Plattsburgh State. He runs his own insurance agency out of Adirondack, a small town on Schroon Lake.

“Part of my decision to attend ACC was just that

I love the region,” Mark said. “To be able to go to school there and meet people and end up making a living that allows you to stay in the region — that’s what I appreciate most about it.” For David, who at times lived as far away as California, starting close to home was for more practical reasons. “My thinking was to give me more time to decide exactly what degree


Business Leaders



Today, David is head of U.S. Medical Affairs Strategy for Indivior, a Virginia-based pharmaceutical company, and Mark runs his own insurance agency in Adirondack, a small town on Schroon Lake.

and school I wanted to attend and to save money,” he said. His time at ACC helped him realize he wanted to work in the medical field, so he transferred to Albany College of Pharmacy. “At that time, third-year transfers were few and far between,” he recalled. “The staff made it clear that many third-year transfers often struggled; they like to make the case that the first two years at their school is much tougher than the first two years transfer students take elsewhere. But I did very well, graduated near the top of the class, and I attribute that to a large extent to the educational experience I received at ACC.”

Despite being in different programs, both David and Mark recall fondly the experiences they had at SUNY Adirondack. “The quality of the teachers was outstanding,” said Mark, explaining how things he learned at ACC are still useful today in running a successful business. “I was blessed with some really great professors and the small class size allowed them to be really engaged.” That engagement helped both Carpenters excel. “I just wouldn’t have been able to (be as successful in his ensuing educational pursuits) without the really solid foundation the

first two years, not just the coursework itself, but how to manage your time and prioritize your coursework, especially playing sports at the same time,” David said. “I think there’s a little bit of a stigma about community college transfer students into bigger universities, yet I always graduated at the top of the class. I think that proves students can transition easily and successfully from community colleges to larger, more ‘well-heeled’ academic institutions, both public and private.” FUN FACT! Mark’s daughter, Kelsey Lorusso, is the director of the Trio Upward Bound program at SUNY Adirondack.

“SUNY Adirondack gave me the confidence I needed to go away from home to a four-year school, the confidence to move forward.” — John Brodt






Community Builders


Lisa and Nicole Brodt joke that the mother-and-daughter team — a nurse in Glens Falls Hospital’s Snuggery and a teacher at a local day care center, respectively — take care of the region’s children from the day they’re born until they head off to kindergarten. “My mom gets them first, then I get them,” laughed Nicole Brodt, a day care provider.

SUNY Adirondack helped John, who grew up in Hudson Falls, realize he could turn his talents into a career.

Both Lisa and Nicole were educated at SUNY Adirondack — as were the two men who round out their family, John (Lisa’s husband and Nicole’s dad), and Steven (the couple’s son and Nicole’s younger brother).

“It was during those two years when I firmly decided that writing is what I wanted to do,” he said, remembering two classes with professors who recognized his potential and encouraged him to pursue a career in journalism. “I wasn’t necessarily aspiring to be the next great novelist, but I knew I wanted to write and that opened the door of journalism for me.”

The college filled a need in each family member’s life, helping them achieve their goals and setting them up for future success. John, vice president of Behan Communications, wasn’t sure what he wanted to do when he finished high school; he just hoped it would involve writing. “I wasn’t really sure how I was going to make a living doing that,” he remembered. “I know some people are kind of leaping to get that four-year college experience and I just decided to take it a little more slowly and get started by staying at home.”

After graduating, John enrolled at Utica College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. “I found the level of instruction I received at SUNY Adirondack was on par with what I was receiving at Utica,” he said. John worked in journalism — first newspapers, then media, media relations and radio — before joining Behan Communications in 1990.

In his first job out of college, writing for a local weekly newspaper, John met Lisa, who earned an associate degree in journalism from SUNY Morrisville. She moved on to work at a media company, but realized journalism wasn’t what she was looking for. “I kind of figured out what I wanted to do, so I went back to school,” she said of her decision to enroll at SUNY Adirondack in 1995. “I knew I wanted to help people; I’m a people person. Then I got thinking about it, did a little research and I knew SUNY Adirondack had a great Nursing program, a very sought-after, in-demand program that people wanted to be part of.” Lisa has spent the past 20 years caring for the area’s newest residents. “I really like the patients,” she said of her nursing career. “I get so much back because I feel like I’m helping

people — even if it’s as simple as finding a pillow for dad, I’m helping people and that feeds my soul.”

in,” she said. “But I realized that classes I was taking fit into a couple of certifications in early childhood education.”

Nicole started kindergarten the same day Lisa started classes at SUNY Adirondack. For a while as a teenager, she thought she wanted to follow in her mother’s footsteps and pursue a career in health care.

She earned an associate degree and was certified within three years — just in time for her brother, Steven, to enroll at the college.

“But I worked at the day care I used to go to after school and I really enjoyed it,” Nicole said. “I like being around younger kids and teaching them.”

Because of the experiences his parents and sister had, Steven knew he would receive a solid education at SUNY Adirondack, but what he experienced exceeded his expectations.

When it came time to head off to college, Nicole realized she wasn’t ready to leave home. “At first, I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so SUNY Adirondack was a good way for me to get my core classes

“I wasn’t positive what I wanted to do out of high school,” Steven said. “So for me to commit to one of the bigger schools that was going to cost a lot of money and end up in a ton of debt, and maybe not even go into what I studied? It just made more sense to go to SUNY Adirondack.”

“I enjoyed every one of my classes,” he said. “You could tell the professors were very passionate and knew what they were talking about. They didn’t just read you a PowerPoint and send you home; they actually had

conversations with you.” After graduating with an associate degree in business, Steven took a year off, then earned a bachelor’s degree in entrepreneurship from The College of Saint Rose. “Going from SUNY Adirondack to Saint Rose wasn’t a big adjustment,” he said. “SUNY Adirondack has the same high standards and I knew what was expected of me.” Steven is an ad representative for a regional media company, and he and his wife own a digital marketing business and a paranormal event company. The fact both he and Nicole attended SUNY Adirondack and stayed close to home is a source of joy for John and Lisa. “We all have a pretty close relationship so having them around for a little bit longer was just fine with us,” John said. “The opportunity to stay at home is extremely helpful. We’re lucky to have such an incredible community college so close by.”

Today, John is vice president of Behan Communications; Lisa is a registered nurse at Glens Falls Hospital; Nicole is the lead infant teacher at Tot Spot Childcare; and Steven is an advertising representative for Manchester Media, the property manager/tour guide at Saratoga County Homestead, owner and investigator at Haunted Nights, owner and founder at Be Social Marketing, and owner and founder at South Glens Falls Paranormal Society.

Community Builders

“When I got to (The College of ) Saint Rose and was talking to my advisor about classes, he saw I’d gone to SUNY Adirondack first and he said he wished more kids did it. It saves you money and it’s just a great way to start out.” — Steven Brodt

“Being a well-round individual, it just wasn’t a one-size-fits-all cookie-cutter experience. There was room there to grow. It was the best fit for me.”

FUN FACT! Hannah lives in Halfmoon, where she and her family raise chickens and run a small farmstand during the summer months.

HANNAH STEVENS CHRISTOPHER HOMETOWN: SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK 1996 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK 1998 GRADUATE OF RUSSELL SAGE / 2003 MASTER’S GRADUATE FROM SAGE CURRENTLY: KINDERGARTEN TEACHER FOR TROY CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT When Hannah Stevens Christopher graduated from high school, she packed up her bedroom and made the trip to New York City, where she was enrolled at the Fashion Institute of Technology to study photography, just as she planned. But she wasn’t ready. “I had some of the talent, but I didn’t have that solid educational background,” she said. “I wasn’t ready for that, maturity wise.” So she moved back to the area and took a job in a warehouse. “It was tough work, good work,” she recalled. But she didn’t see herself loading trucks forever, so she registered at SUNY Adirondack. She took classes in finance, banking, liberal arts, history and photography. “It was the perfect fit for me at the time,” Stevens Christopher said.

“I started to mature and SUNY Adirondack gave me that solid foundation, something I maybe didn’t get in high school. I did really well at SUNY Adirondack, something I had never

experienced before in school.” Stevens Christopher did so well, in fact, she transferred to Russell Sage College in Troy. Motivated by the passion she found in SUNY Adirondack professors — “They loved their work and that was very motivating,” she said — she decided to become a teacher, taking on a double major in education and history. Twenty-one years later, she is still a kindergarten teacher in Troy City School District, a job she finds as fulfilling as it is difficult. “We’ve got a great staff and a lot of support, but it’s very challenging,” she admitted, listing poverty, mental health and parents working multiple jobs to make ends meet as just some of the issues students battle. “As an educator, I’ve had to learn and grow. In our school, I think our motto is pretty much ‘You have to find a way.’” Even that is a lesson she learned at SUNY Adirondack. “The professors weren’t just catering to the students who were the A-plus-plus students; they took time with everyone, even students who, like me, needed more,” she said. “They met you at your level, so I was able to continue on and feel confident.”


“The class at SUNY Adirondack was all the things as a new business, you might not put the most thought into, from HR to insurance to legal issues.�

IMAGES OPPOSITE PAGE: Bert and his son and co-owner, Christian, walk through the brewery. Bert overlooks the brewery.




As Bert Weber watched the successful business he and his son built burn to the ground, he was thinking about shattered dreams, the future of his employees and likely a dozen other immediate concerns — but he definitely wasn’t thinking about insurance policies. Once the smoke cleared, though, the co-owner of Common Roots Brewing was grateful the business was so well insured, something he learned the importance of while attending SUNY Adirondack’s Start-Up ADK. “When you go into an idea like this, everything you don’t know is really what blindsides you,” Weber said. “The class at SUNY Adirondack was all the things as a new business, you might not put the most thought into, from HR to insurance to legal issues.” Weber began preparing to retire from a career teaching at BOCES as his son’s interest in brewing really took hold. They spent weekends poring through ideas, developing a plan for a brewery that would

center on the ideals they hold dear: community, the environment, an active lifestyle. “Beer is a great way to promote things that are important to us, like social justice, being stewards of the environment, treating people well and making sure when people come to visit, they feel welcomed,” Weber said. In the days after the fire, support poured in to Common Roots, with community members developing Rally for the Roots, offering help to the business and its employees.

“We loved making beer, but we knew that might not be enough,” Weber said about his decision to first take the course. “So I love coming back to SUNY Adirondack, listening to what other people are doing and try to be encouraging. We hear what they’re doing and we share what we’ve learned.”

“Everyone should feel that type of love,” Weber said. “It really inspired us to say, ‘Wow, this idea we started is actually working. We created a community around us. What can we do to keep it going?’” The Weber family rebuilt their business and started Common Roots Foundation, a nonprofit organization to support community members in need. And, Weber returns regularly to SUNY Adirondack as a guest presenter in its Start-Up ADK program.

Approximately 600 entrepreneur-hopefuls have attended Start-Up ADK throughout its 20-year history at SUNY Adirondack, resulting in creation of businesses such as Common Roots Brewing, Sidekick Creative, Evergreen Bicycle Works, Advokate, Adirondack Worm Farm, WaldronWorks and Lavenlair Farm, among countless others.

Brooke’s work-study assignment at SUNY Adirondack changed her trajectory in an unexpected way.

Brooke Lacy transferred to SUNY Adirondack from Sage Colleges knowing what path she wanted her life to follow. “I grew up in a rough home and had a lot of family issues, so I wanted to help children in abusive homes,” she said. “I wanted to be their voice because I didn’t have that.” But her work-study assignment at SUNY Adirondack changed her trajectory in an unexpected way.

She worked in the Accessibility Office on campus, making fliers, proctoring exams and performing office duties. Every day, she saw people overcoming challenges and was in awe of the determination she witnessed — a grit Lacy herself exhibits, as she was born without fully developed limbs and uses a wheelchair. “I originally never wanted to do that type of work because I never wanted my disability to determine my fate,” she said.

“I guess you could say, I didn’t want to have my work revolve around my disability. But I ended up learning that by having to overcome so much with my disability, I could help others achieve their goals.”


Health Care Workers


“Everything that I learned at SUNY Adirondack has helped me become who I am and get where I am now.” Today, Lacy works in health insurance enrollment at Southern Adirondack Independent Living Center, a nonprofit organization in Queensbury dedicated to helping individuals live independently. “We help people from birth to end of life,” she said, explaining that SAIL helps provide adaptive equipment, lines up services, and provides advocacy and transitional housing, among other help.

“We promote independence,” Lacy said. “Our goal is to have people take control of their lives and not let their disabilities keep them from what they want to do in life.” Lacy, in fact, first learned about SAIL years ago, when she needed help making the bathroom in her home accessible. “SAIL is the best-kept secret in town,” she said. Now, she’s a part of the organization’s success and loves that she is

able to help others in a positive, encouraging atmosphere. “Working in accessibility, you see so many people from so many walks of life who are really just trying hard to live their best lives and make the best for themselves,” she said. “You show them what’s out there and they choose their path. We aren’t our consumers’ voices, but we let our consumers’ voices be heard. That’s truly inspirational for me.”

“SUNY Adirondack is a nice way to go away to college and have a good experience, but stay financially grounded.” Krystiana Norman knew she made the right decision in becoming a nurse not when she helped diagnose some obscure disease or performed a miraculous life-saving procedure like a scene in a made-for-TV medical drama, but instead when she sat with the family of a patient who just died.

As a student nurse in her intensive care unit rotation, she asked if she could support chest compressions in a cardiac arrest case. She performed the fourth round of compressions on the patient, who had no heart rate. “I gave him a couple of irregular rhythms; we thought he would come

back,” she remembered. “But he didn’t make it, we couldn’t keep his heart rate going.” “Watching the family go through that, just being there for them after they just lost a loved one,” she said, “really assured me this was for me.”


Health Care Workers

LANSINGBURGH, NEW YORK 2020 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK CURRENTLY A CRITICAL CARE RESIDENT AT ST. PETER’S HOSPITAL Before attending SUNY Adirondack, she wasn’t sure what she wanted to do. She began to consider the college at a classmate’s insistence — friends since third grade, they shared a room in the campus Residence Hall — and, when she learned how affordable it was, the decision to attend was clear. “It’s a nice way to still go away to college and have a good experience, but stay financially grounded,” said Norman, who graduated from Lansingburgh High School before attending SUNY Adirondack. “If I went to a larger school, the culture is very different, obviously the party scene, and I was very young going to college, only 17, so I definitely could have been influenced the wrong way,” she said. Instead, she thrived at SUNY Adirondack. “Going to a smaller school helped me stay grounded,” she said. After volunteering with senior citizens in high school, Norman knew she wanted a career in which she would help people, so she started taking psychology courses. “I was sitting in one of my psych classes and I loved the professor, but I realized the curriculum just wasn’t for me,” she said. “I need to do something more hands-on and to do something with people. My mom always told me

I should be a nurse because I’m so good with people.” She applied to SUNY Adirondack’s highly competitive Nursing degree program and was accepted. “I got in on the first try, which I was shocked about,” she remembered. She changed majors and, in her three years at SUNY ADK, made a name for herself on campus, becoming a resident assistant, working in the library and serving as student manager in the Student Engagement Office. “I’ve been a little bit of everywhere, and got to know a lot of people,” she said. That networking helped as she neared graduation.

Knowing the resources available to her through the Office of Business Central’s Career Readiness program, she enlisted help to polish her cover letter and resume. Then, she took advantage of the office’s CliftonStrengths for Students (formerly StrengthsQuest) program, which helps identify strengths and talents, to prepare for job interviews.

The extra effort paid off. She applied to St. Peter’s Hospital in Albany and was hired before graduation. Just weeks after graduating from SUNY Adirondack’s Nursing program, Norman started a critical care residency at St. Peter’s. The yearlong program trains nurses how to do EKGs, run codes, set ventilators and communicate with doctors about critical care issues, among other skills. “Basically, they bring us back to school all over again,” she said. “But if you work in the ICU, you can work anywhere in health care.” That flexibility is part of what Norman loves about the field. “You can honestly do whatever you want: you can work in a high school, you can work in higher ed, in a hospital setting, nursing home, doctor’s office,” she said. “You can do so much with it.”


“At my age, it’s like exercising and I really believe playing music helps stave off things like Alzheimer’s disease.”

Photos from Jim’s personal collection of SUNY Adirondack concerts in which he was proud to participate


Lifelong Learners


When James Hughes’ 45-yearold neighbor mentioned that, as a father of two middle-school musicians, he was taking up playing clarinet after not having touched the instrument since high school, Hughes assured him that with some hard work, he would be back in tune in no time. “I can speak for myself: You work at it and it’ll come back,” said Hughes, who at age 87 still plays in regional bands and participates in his Grant Avenue neighborhood’s impromptu jam sessions. Hughes himself took a half-century hiatus from playing. He learned to play clarinet when he was 9 years old, playing through high school and in college at Northeastern University. “After I graduated, I didn’t play for about 50 years,” he recalled. He went on to Union College, where he earned a master’s degree in industrial administration, then worked for the city of Glens Falls, DuPont and other chemical companies. He spent the final decade of his career as manager of Ray Supply, a family-owned company started by his father-in-law. After retiring, he, his wife and their friends were talking about how to pass their time.

“I said, ‘You know, when I went from high school to college, I really gave some thought into going into a music career.’ It was either music or engineering,” he said. “But I do like to eat, and musicians didn’t do too well financially then, except for the few who make the big bucks. “So, I said, ‘I think that’s what I’m doing to do,’” he said. He approached the music director of SUNY Adirondack’s band to see if he could play with them, and was welcomed with open arms. After a few months, Hughes realized he probably had some bad habits he picked up along the way, so he registered for classes.

“I knew there were music theory courses I’d really like to take,” he said. “I signed up for the theory courses and another, and I wound up taking all the theory courses and, eventually, all the music classes the college offered.”

Over time, too, his schedule filled up with playing with other bands, including Lake George Community Band, Hartford Community Band and a German polka trio. “At my age, it’s like exercising and I really believe playing music helps stave off things like Alzheimer’s disease,” Hughes said, recounting a television program he watched that explained the impact music has on brain activity. “When I play music, I’ve got the eye-hand coordination, and the ear, I’m listening to the music so I’m playing in tune, I’m literally exercising my fingers, my brain, so it’s in a way really helping keeping me going at my age,” he said, pride evident in his voice. “There’s something to be said for playing a musical instrument,” he said. “I’m not only able to play the instrument. I’m able to play it well.”

Did you know that through the college’s Office of Continuing Education, community members can join the SUNY Adirondack Chorale and Symphonic Band? More information at

“I grew up in Schuylerville, which is so small, and SUNY Adirondack works so well for those small-town kids. I felt right at home.�

Senior Investigator Kayla Apple and K9 Jack


Police Officers

HOMETOWN: SCHUYLERVILLE, NEW YORK 2010 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK / 2013 GRADUATE OF SUNY PLATTSBURGH CURRENTLY: A SENIOR INVESTIGATOR WITH ALBANY COUNTY SHERIFF’S DEPARTMENT When Kayla Apple sees a dog, she doesn’t first notice the color of its fur, puppy-dog eyes or expressive eyebrows. As senior investigator in Albany County Sheriff’s Department in charge of the canine unit, Apple looks to see if a dog goes straight to its nose and if it thinks clearly. “They have to have a certain drive, be energetic and all they want to do is work,” said Apple, a graduate of SUNY Adirondack’s Criminal Justice program. “They will never stop.” Apple first started attending SUNY Adirondack when she was a high school student in Schuylerville Central School District and already knew she wanted to study criminal justice. “That had such a big impact, to get that jump-start on my career,” she said. “I had wanted to do something either with probation or parole, more an office type of setting.” But while a student at SUNY Adirondack, Apple worked in an area jail and had an internship in probation. “That got my foot in the door of doing corrections,” she recalled, but she quickly learned that wasn’t the route for her.

After earning an associate degree, Apple transferred to a bachelor’s program at SUNY Plattsburgh’s satellite office on the SUNY ADK campus in Queensbury. After graduating, she worked for Fort Edward Village Police Department and Washington County Sheriff’s Office. She was living in the Cohoes area and took a full-time position at Albany County Sheriff’s Department, where she worked her way up to her position today. “I love it,” she said. “I love being able to see the canines are capable, that they succeed, they’re finding people, narcotics; I’m excited to see their success and see our whole Sheriff’s office be successful because of the dogs.” “I grew up in Schuylerville, which is so small, and SUNY Adirondack works so well for those small-town kids,” she said. “I felt right at home.”

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics anticipates employment in protective service occupations will grow 3 percent from 2019 to 2029, resulting in about 95,000 new jobs.

“The professors at SUNY Adirondack always pushed me to become better. I was able to focus more on my field and show my professors (at the college to which I transferred) what I learned at SUNY Adirondack.�


Tourism Leaders

HOMETOWN: GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK / 2017 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK 2019 GRADUATE OF PAUL SMITH’S COLLEGE CURRENTLY: MANAGER-IN-TRAINING & ACTING FOOD & BEVERAGE MANAGER FOR MARRIOTT IN SARANAC LAKE, NEW YORK Donovan Miller understands the importance of second chances. After his first year at SUNY Adirondack, he wasn’t doing well academically and was at risk of having to leave. “If it weren’t for my counselors and professors, I wouldn’t have made it through SUNY Adirondack,” he said, explaining how he was offered placement in a “bounceback” program in which he took fewer credits and attended a class that helped him understand how to more effectively study and manage time. He turned the situation around, brought his grades up and headed into the next semester with a full course load. “The support staff is what made school work for me.” At SUNY Adirondack, Miller became active in student government and thought he might want to study nursing. One business course, though, changed his mind. “That class made me switch to hospitality,” he said. “I didn’t really know what it was until Professor Kelli Hatin changed my outlook on things. I didn’t know you could go to school to study hotels.” After earning an associate degree from SUNY Adirondack, Miller transferred to Paul Smith’s College, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel resort management. From there, he earned a spot in the much-coveted and highly

competitive Marriott Voyage program, which each year trains between 400 and 800 students from around the world. “I thought I was a little fish in a big pond because every other Voyager went to LSU or University of Alabama,” said Miller, who worked at JW Marriott in New Orleans during the program. “All those other students went to huge schools and had a bigger platform to showcase their skills, but I came from little SUNY Adirondack and Paul Smith’s and I got in.”

Miller is confident with the education he received for such an incredible value. “You can get a full college experience and save a lot of money, and still go to conferences and talk to students at big schools about what we were doing and they were shocked because they weren’t doing as much,” he said. His hard work paid off, as today he’s working for Marriott in Saranac Lake. “There are jobs anywhere,” he said. “I can move anywhere and find a job easily.”

Throughout these stories of success, SUNY Adirondack’s alumni praise our dedicated faculty and staff, and we could not be prouder of our impact on the lives of these incredible people. Success isn’t defined by the size of a bank account or a job title. Instead, it’s found in our passion for our work, the people in our lives and the ability to follow our dreams. SUNY Adirondack’s roots are planted firmly in our region, wide reaching and strong. The college was founded more than 60 years ago by leaders who understood education is a pathway to prosperity, for both the individual and the community. They knew a strong society requires a commitment to improvement of self and others. SUNY Adirondack makes learning available to all, regardless of age, background, aspiration, time and place. Come for a workshop, attend a class, earn a degree — you can do it all. Much like the individuals whose stories you read here, we aim to inspire others to join our impressive and ever-growing list of successes, and spread the good work of our dedicated faculty and staff and those we teach and serve. Thank you for your ongoing support and commitment to the work of YOUR community college. We are humble in our ways, yet bold in our convictions and eager to serve for many years to come. Sincerely,

Kristine D. Duffy, Ed.D. President



E S I M O R P SUNY Adirondack is here for you. At SUNY Adirondack, we promise to meet our students’ needs, in the classroom and from afar, by providing:

Generous financial aid packages, for full- and part-time students of all ages; Tutoring, mentoring and educational assistance; Technology, including laptops, WiFi and MiFi access, and more; Financial support to recover from COVID-related hardships;


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Nigeria Colvin would put the finishing touches on her classwork after her son was in bed, then walk to the end of her driveway to use WiFi from SUNY Adirondack’s Saratoga location — which Colvin could see from her home — to file the assignments. Once the college loaned her a laptop and secured MiFi for her, life got simpler.

“I’m more focused, I can get done what I need to do and I ended up getting all As and Bs. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to continue the way things were.”

An investment in knowledge pays the best interest. — Benjamin Franklin








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