THE ALUMNI COLLECTIVE A QUARTERLY MAGAZINE CELEBRATING 60 YEARS
GENERATIONS OF GROWTH A lot can happen in 60 years. Fields grow into forests; technology advances and changes how we do, well, everything, then changes more; our children grow and raise families of their own, and then those grandchildren go out into the world; the economy ebbs and flows; wars are fought and political boundaries redrawn. Through everything that has happened in the world, SUNY Adirondack has been here and will continue to be as we build a strong future for our economy, our families and this beautiful area we call home. By working with the region’s employers, the college adapts to the ever-changing world around us, offering fields of study needed to build a knowledgeable workforce and respond to the new directions industry, economics and technology take us.
As we see second and third generations enroll at SUNY Adirondack, we take great pride in how we help you grow — as individuals, students, professionals and a part of our greater community. We take seriously the trust placed in us as the region’s source of higher education and are inspired to see all the ways the college helps change lives.
Whatever the future brings, SUNY Adirondack is here, as we have been since 1961. We are ready to face new challenges, to ensure you have the necessary tools to fulfill your goals and have confidence knowing your journey starts or continues right here at SUNY Adirondack.
VOL. 3 | JUNE 2021
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.
Accountants Artists Business Leaders County Sheriffs Engineers Farmers Human Resources Specialists Medical Technologists Nurses Wastewater Operators Writers ... and so much more
SUNY Adirondack enriches and transforms lives and communities through accessible, lifelong educational opportunities.
With student success at the heart of our work, we believe in: • Lifelong Learning: Education is transformative through endless learning. • Thriving Communities: We are successful when we partner as a community, for the community. • Open Access: Higher education opportunities for all, inclusive of diverse backgrounds, ages, goals and learning styles.
SEVENTY-FIVE PERCENT OF OUR STUDENTS ARE RETURNING
TO COLLEGE FOR A RESTART. FORTY-SIX PERCENT OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDENTS IN THE UNITED STATES ARE ENROLLED
IN A COMMUNITY COLLEGE. THE CONTINUING EDUCATION OFFICE HAS OFFERED
WORKFORCE TRAINING AND PERSONAL ENRICHMENT PROGRAMS TO THE COMMUNITY FOR MORE THAN 30 YEARS.
“I couldn’t recommend a better place. I’ve always promoted the college, even here at my office, I tell people, ‘The first place you should look is SUNY Adirondack. You’re not going to get a better place to go.’”
PAUL DOWEN, CPA
HOMETOWN: SARATOGA SPRINGS, NEW YORK 1979 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING 1980 GRADUATE OF CASTLETON UNIVERSITY, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING CURRENTLY: PARTNER, WHITTEMORE DOWEN & RICCIARDELLI, LLP Paul Dowen sat across from the man interviewing him, doing something that should have been second nature to the freshly minted accounting graduate — adding and subtracting a list of numbers — as his career hung in the balance. “When I got done, I was sweating. I thought, ‘I’m a math major, but it’s a lot of pressure,’” he remembered. “And we got different answers, so I said, ‘You’ve been doing this a lot longer, so I trust your answer.’” That humility landed Dowen the job. He worked for that company for more than seven years and was promoted to supervisor, then manager. Today, he is partner in his own firm, Whittemore Dowen & Ricciardelli, LLP, in Queensbury, a business around which he has built a life. “I get to form lifelong friendships,” Dowen said. “Some people rely totally upon us for financial assistance, starting a business, their kids going to college, retiring, deciding to move. You transition from working with people to now working with children and grandchildren of clients over the 40 years I’ve been doing this. They’re like another family.”
Throughout high school, Dowen worked at McDonald’s, cashing out registers, taking
inventory and making sure things were balanced. “I even did that when I was 16,” he said. The summer he graduated, a new restaurant in the chain was opening in South Glens Falls, so Dowen decided to attend what was then Adirondack Community College while working. He was challenged at SUNY Adirondack, where a beloved professor called him out in class, forcing the self-described introvert to participate. “Early on, I was certainly much more comfortable sitting in the back of the room,” he said. “No one bothered me, I was keeping quiet with my stack of books, but as things evolved, as I ultimately wanted to become an owner, I got more outgoing.” Today, Dowen is an active member of The Rotary and the SUNY Adirondack Foundation board, as well as working with the five other partners and 29 employees of Whittemore Dowen & Ricciardelli. “I don’t feel like I come to work every day,” he said. “I love what I do, we’re always helping people and there’s a lot of people in our office. I just love working with people.”
IN THE U.S., 62 PERCENT OF FULL-TIME COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENTS WORK AND 72 PERCENT OF PART-TIME STUDENTS HOLD JOBS OUTSIDE THEIR STUDIES.
“It’s got mountains, it’s got the lake, all the outdoor recreation you could want, but you still have Saratoga and Queensbury, and you’re close to New York and the ocean and Boston. It’s such a prime location, but you also get that feeling when you drive home, like you’re escaping the busy world.”
ROBIN WADLEIGH, CPA, CFE
HOMETOWN: PALATINE, ILLINOIS 2005 GRADUATE OF UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN ANTHROPOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES 2011 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING 2015 GRADUATE OF UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY, MASTER OF SCIENCE IN ACCOUNTING CURRENTLY: STAFF AUDITOR, WHITTEMORE DOWEN & RICCIARDELLI, LLP Robin Wadleigh grew up in the suburbs of Chicago thinking that community college was for people who couldn’t get into four-year programs. “I hate saying that now,” said Wadleigh, a certified public accountant who earned an associate degree from SUNY Adirondack, then went on to University at Albany, where she earned a master’s degree in accounting 10 years to the day after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Wisconsin. “The professors at SUNY Adirondack were better than at the University of Wisconsin, partly because you got to know them because you weren’t sitting in a class of 500, but also because they have life experience and aren’t sitting researching all day long.” After graduating from high school, Wadleigh earned a bachelor’s degree in anthropology and environmental studies from UW. She was hired to teach sailing at Camp Chingachgook for a summer in 2007 and loved it so much, she stayed on as retreat director. THE SUNY ADIRONDACK
FOUNDATION IS A 501(C)3 CHARITABLE
ORGANIZATION ESTABLISHED IN 1983.
“When I decided to leave camp life, I didn’t know what to do with myself,” she admitted. “I liked accounting, so I thought, ‘Let’s take some accounting classes at SUNY Adirondack and see where that gets me.’” First, it landed her a bookkeeping job off campus and an adjunct role in the college’s Outdoor Education program (then called Adventure Sports). Surgery in 2012 made it difficult to spend long periods on her feet, so she enrolled in a master’s program at University at Albany. “I tried a lot of things and got to spend a lot of time outdoors,” Wadleigh said. “I was ready to hunker down and live the office life.” She interviewed with Whittemore Dowen & Ricciardelli, LLP, before graduation and started working there a few weeks before crossing the stage to receive her diploma. There, Wadleigh audits the firm’s clients, many of which are nonprofit organizations. “The thing I like about it most, we’re not the evil auditors as people like to think,” she said. “We like to help people because if they do well, our
THE FOUNDATION’S PRIMARY FUNCTION IS TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL SUPPORT TO THE COLLEGE AND ITS STUDENTS. FUNDS ARE RAISED AND DISTRIBUTED AS STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS AND FACULTY/
job is easier. We advise our clients on efficiencies and different ways to do things that ultimately make it better for both of us.” Several clients share Wadleigh’s values on environmentalism and recreational opportunities. “It’s really up my alley to be able to help them support their own missions,” she said. Today, Wadleigh is on the boards of Queensbury Land Conservancy and SUNY Adirondack Foundation.
“I think so highly of SUNY Adirondack and what they do there, to be able to give back even a little bit is a very humbling thing,” she said. “Community college professors are there because they want to be,” Wadleigh said. “They’re not research professors who are focused solely on being published, but instead they want to make connections and change lives. And you can feel it from Day One.”
STAFF PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT GRANTS, AND USED TO SUPPORT COLLEGE-RELATED SPECIAL PROJECTS. THE FOUNDATION BUILDS ITS ASSETS THROUGH ANNUAL
GIVING, MEMORIAL GIFTS, SPECIAL FUNDRAISING EVENTS, PLANNED GIVING AND BEQUESTS.
TO DONATE, VISIT
“I was taught skill, how to paint well, how to see things, how to perceive things. Because there’s craftsmanship when it comes to art. I gained a lot of the skills to go forward with painting my art at SUNY Adirondack.” Rosary Solimanto was a single mother of two, battling multiple sclerosis and barely able to walk. The then-29-year-old underwent an experimental bone marrow
transplant in an attempt to alleviate some of the pain she suffered. “I had it done, I almost died and, when you’re really ill, all you want to do is die, but then when you’re dying, you realize you don’t want to,” Solimanto said. “That
was the turning point in my life.” Having tried “everything modern medicine had to offer,” Solimanto turned to alternative treatments, including adopting a ketogenic diet. She regained
the ability to walk and, despite still being in pain, wasn’t in the hospital as frequently. “I decided to go for a non-stress life,” she said, recounting her decision to return to college to study
HOMETOWN: LAKE GEORGE, NEW YORK 1999 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN ARTS LIBERAL ARTS & SOCIAL SCIENCES, WITH CONCENTRATIONS IN ENGLISH AND PSYCHOLOGY 2011 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN ARTS IN LIBERAL ARTS, HUMANITIES & SCIENCES 2013 GRADUATE OF UNIVERSITY AT ALBANY, BACHELOR OF ARTS IN ENGLISH AND PSYCHOLOGY 2015 GRADUATE OF SUNY NEW PALTZ, MASTER OF FINE ARTS IN SCULPTURE CURRENTLY: INDEPENDENT ARTIST art, something she was discouraged from doing when she was a teenager. “My counselor pulled me aside and told me there was no money in the arts and it was a fool’s errands to pursue.” Solimanto left high school in 10th grade, earned a GED, then attended SUNY Adirondack to study English and psychology. She graduated, then transferred to University at Albany, where she was in her final semester when she became ill. In the years between leaving SUNY Albany and returning to SUNY Adirondack, she was married, had two children, divorced and her illness progressed. “I became a sick, disabled mother for a long time — and I was only 28 years old, so very young.” After the transplant and her return to the Lake George region, Solimanto enrolled at SUNY Adirondack. “I knew I had something to say but wasn’t sure how to communicate it yet,” she said.
Meeting SUNY Adirondack Fine Arts professor and prominent regional artist John Hampshire greatly impacted Solimanto. “I think I took
every single course he had to offer,” she said. “I can still hear the man in my head when I make art.” After graduating from SUNY Adirondack a second time, Solimanto went on to University at Albany, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in English and Art, with a minor in Psychology. She then earned a master’s degree from SUNY New Paltz in 2015. Since, she has been exhibiting her artwork in galleries and museums in New York City. “I was told when I started making my art about disability that there was no market for it,” she said. “That was anything but the truth because one out of every two people has a health condition.” Solimanto’s, though, changed significantly when, two and a half years ago, a doctor suggested she have a screw in her leg from a past injury removed. “I’ve tried every other natural treatment,” she said. “I had the screw taken out and, two weeks later, the chronic fatigue I’d had for 20 years was lifted. I had an MRI done a year later and while I had 50 brain lesions from the MS, they say there’s maybe one left. I was allergic to the metal doctors put in my leg.”
Even though her MS symptoms have greatly improved, Solimanto still creates artwork about her body. “I do it about the things nobody likes to talk about: We go to the hospital, say we have a surgery, it’s really traumatic; you go in, some guy cuts you, you’re on drugs and they make you feel terrible, then there’s the recuperation and the degree of trust you’re placing on others. It’s a traumatic event,” she said. “That’s what I make my art about: I take something I’ve had happen to me, bring forward that moment, but open it up to have other people’s experiences be viewed through it and into it.”
THE INTERACTIVE ARTWORK TITLED “WEIGHT” WAS CREATED TO PORTRAY LEGS AS HEAVY WEIGHTS, SIMULATING THE ADVERSITIES EXPERIENCED BY PEOPLE WITH INVISIBLE HEALTH CONDITIONS. WWW.ROSARYSOLIMANTO.COM
“I just enjoyed everything about my experience there.” John and Shelly Marcantonio graduated from SUNY Adirondack just a year apart, but didn’t meet until a decade later, when they both worked at a local human resources firm. On the surface, the couple might not seem to have a lot in common. He’s quick with a boisterous laugh, telling one anecdote after another, sprinkling names of longtime friends and former colleagues throughout. She answers questions directly and thoughtfully, taking time to think. He admits he can’t say no and rattles off a list of activities he just couldn’t refuse. She talks about how one of the keys to her success has been knowing when to say no.
transactions, but relationships. Shelly, employee benefits practice leader at Upstate Agency, which is also owned by Arrow, talks about her fascination with the ever-changing health care landscape and how technology and data analytics play a major role in its transformation. But their shared love of family and community clearly unites them. “We tag team each other very well,” Shelly said, noting how crucial that is to juggling the couple’s busy careers and the sports schedule of their 10-year-old son, Christopher (whose teams John often volunteers to coach).
“I don’t like the view from the sidelines,” John said. “If Christopher is John, the vice president and business going to play a sport and there’s an development officer at Arrow Finanopportunity for me to coach it, cial Corporation, stresses that the Cara Greenslade, Grace Kelly, Kelli GermainI’m andgoing to.” importance of his work at Glens Falls Will Fowler stand in their studio in The Shirt Shelly would rather pour all her energy and Saratoga National Factory in Glens Falls. banks isn’t in
into fewer endeavors. Most recently, that has been as a board member of the SUNY Adirondack Foundation. “I’m definitely the type of person who likes to focus and say, ‘This is where I need to be spending my time,’” she said. The college is important to John and Shelly, Class of 1990 and 1991, respectively. “All of a sudden, you’re in this new world, coming from high school, where you have your place — everybody knows everybody and everybody’s got opinions of you — and you go to SUNY Adirondack, and the student body was fantastic, super welcoming,” John said. “I just enjoyed everything about my experience there.” “SUNY Adirondack’s professors were very supportive and willing to jump in and help, but the whole student body was like that as well,” Shelly said.
JOHN AND SHELLY MARCANTONIO JOHN MARCANTONIO HOMETOWN: SOUTH GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK 1990 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION 1992 GRADUATE OF SUNY INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY AT UTICA-ROME, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BUSINESS CURRENTLY: VICE PRESIDENT AND BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT OFFICER AT GLENS FALLS & SARATOGA NATIONAL BANK AT ARROW FINANCIAL CORPORATION Those experiences are part of what drove Shelly to join the board of the college’s Foundation, which supports student scholarships.
“The attraction is how much the college brings to the area and how impactful it is to the community where our business is,” she said. “I see it more broadly than a college where 18-year-olds go; it’s a major contributor to our whole area.” John is happy to support the Foundation, but his philanthropic interests lie
Business Leaders SHELLY MARCANTONIO HOMETOWN: GLENS FALLS, NEW YORK 1991 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE 1998 GRADUATE OF SIENA COLLEGE, BACHELOR OF ARTS IN PSYCHOLOGY CURRENTLY: EMPLOYEE BENEFITS PRACTICE LEADER, UPSTATE AGENCY
elsewhere. He serves on the Board of Directors for Northeastern New York Alzheimer’s Association — the first person north of Clifton Park to do so — and is co-chair of the committee that organizes the regional Walk to End Alzheimer’s, an annual fundraiser for the Alzheimer’s Association. (Coincidentally, SUNY Adirondack has hosted the event the past few years.) He also serves on their Leadership Council, which organizes and provides caregiver support locally. John’s first walk was in 2014 with his mother, an avid walker known around downtown Glens Falls, where she put on miles every day. At the time a resident of The Landing, she participated in the honorific flower ceremony and that started John’s mission for the organization.
His mother died in 2017 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s, but in the years since, he has led the event in raising hundreds of thousands of dollars and has attended four national leadership summits for the Alzheimer’s Association, presenting at a breakout section about fundraising in San Antonio. “It’s a testament to this community and how giving everybody is and it’s also telling as to how many of us have been impacted by Alzheimer’s disease,” he said. “Our whole area is a very giving, come-together area,” Shelly added. “That’s one of the things the college is known for, too.”
FUN FACTS! JOHN AND SHELLY MARCANTONIO ATTENDED SUNY ADIRONDACK AT THE SAME TIME, BUT DIDN’T MEET. HOWEVER, JIM TRACY (PG 28) MET HIS WIFE, ANGELA, IN A COMPARATIVE RELIGION COURSE WITH THEN-PROFESSOR CHARLES BAILEY. THEY DATED THROUGHOUT THE REST OF THEIR TIME AT SUNY ADIRONDACK, GOT MARRIED AND NOW HAVE TWO DAUGHTERS. SHERIFF JIM LAFARR (PG 14) ALSO MET HIS WIFE IN CLASS AT SUNY ADIRONDACK, BUT THE TWO DIDN’T START DATING UNTIL A FEW YEARS LATER, WHEN THEY RAN INTO ONE ANOTHER AT O’TOOLE’S AND RECONNECTED. THE COUPLE HAS A SON.
“I’m blessed to be sitting where I am today. Everyone has their own path and each is unique and every day I count the blessings in my life, professionally and personally.”
HOMETOWN: QUEENSBURY, NEW YORK 1991 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN CRIMINAL JUSTICE 1993 TO 1997 ARMY NATIONAL GUARD 1997 TO 2000 UNITED STATES AIR FORCE RESERVES CURRENTLY: WARREN COUNTY SHERIFF When Jim LaFarr was in middle school, two Warren County Sheriff’s officers visited the school and changed his life. “As soon as I saw the uniforms, it solidified it for me. Then I just knew I wanted to work for Warren County Sheriff,” said LaFarr, a SUNY Adirondack Criminal Justice alum who went on to serve in the Army National Guard and Air Guard, worked for years as a sheriff’s officer and today is Warren County Sheriff. LaFarr was the first person in his family to graduate high school, but he had hopes of going to college. “I was fortunate SUNY Adirondack has a great criminal justice program,” he said. “I grew up poor and grant funding made it possible for me to be where I am today.” While attending SUNY Adirondack, LaFarr kept the job he had since he was 14 years old, at a cabinet shop. “If I wasn’t in class, I was in that shop,” he remembered. “SUNY Adirondack was a great environment
for me — it was a lot of hard work, setting goals, being around people who were supportive.” Among those supporters were professors. “You sit through class and listen to them, but after class you go up and they share how to further your career and get you started,” he said. “‘Try something like this’ or ‘I hear this test is coming up.’” A professor, in fact, notified LaFarr of a seasonal special patrol officer program that gave him his first police experience. Participants were trained by the Sheriff’s Office to help police Lake George village. When LaFarr graduated from SUNY Adirondack, he had plans to earn a bachelor’s degree, but couldn’t get funding lined up. Instead, he enlisted in the Army National Guard. He spent two and a half summers as a seasonal officer and then was hired by Warren County full time in 1993. He worked his way up the ranks to investigator, investigative sergeant,
lieutenant, then oversaw a quality control unit. “In earlier days, I had no interest in being sheriff; it was something I viewed as a political position, but I matured and, as time went on, I saw what the job held and my aspirations changed,” said LaFarr, who was elected sheriff in 2020. Despite taking office in a year riddled with complexities, LaFarr is confident in the work he and his team are doing. “Every day we touch someone’s life,” he said. “Sometimes it’s during a crisis and you’re just doing what you can to support them, and sometimes it’s an amazing time in their life.
“I knew I wanted to do this to help people. You’re naive and you think you’ll change the world, but if you really think about it, you do a little every day.” SHERIFF LAFARR IN HIS OFFICE AT WARREN COUNTY MUNICIPAL CENTER
47 PERCENT OF STUDENT
VETERANS HAVE CHILDREN.
62 PERCENT OF STUDENT
VETERANS ARE FIRST-
“SUNY Adirondack is the perfect landing place for a veteran.”
CAPT. EVAN LOVE, PE (USN-RT.)
HOMETOWN: NISKAYUNA, NEW YORK 1975 TO 1981 SERVED IN THE UNITED STATES NAVY 1983 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN ENGINEERING 1984 GRADUATE OF RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MECHANICAL ENGINEERING CURRENTLY: RETIRED AFTER 34 YEARS AS A LICENSED PROFESSIONAL ENGINEER AND ACHIEVING THE RANK OF CAPTAIN IN THE NAVY RESERVES, RETIRING IN OCTOBER OF 2017 Capt. Evan Love, PE (USN-Rt.), is an American success story: a U.S. Navy veteran, engineer, retired from successful careers in the Navy Reserves and Knolls Atomic, father of five and grandfather of six. But at 24, he was married, working two jobs, raising a toddler and attending what was then Adirondack Community College. “It doesn’t feel like a long time ago; it feels like yesterday,” he said. “I couldn’t have been successful in my career or life if not for what I got at SUNY Adirondack.” Love studied engineering, a field that seemed a natural transition after being trained in the Navy’s nuclear power program and working on a submarine reactor. While the classes — calculus, chemistry, advanced mathematics, dynamic statics — were difficult, in the Navy he underwent a year and a half of eight-hour days learning nuclear physics so he was used to being challenged academically. He attended classes year round, graduated and transferred to Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to earn a bachelor’s degree in engineering. He found himself well prepared academically for RPI, an institution known for excellence
and rigor, but was struck by how different it was from SUNY Adirondack.
exceptional personal and professional achievements of alumni.
“I was disappointed in the quality of instruction there, even frustrated sometimes,” he admitted. “I don’t think the professors’ focus is quality of instruction, but at SUNY Adirondack, that’s all they cared about; it was their life’s work to be a professor.
“It’s a mutual recognition,” he said of the honor, describing his “extraordinary” relationship with SUNY Adirondack and the value of a community college education. “I want to pay it forward, it’s my way of saying how important SUNY Adirondack was to me.
“You didn’t have professors who were really focused on achieving tenure, there wasn’t a lot of posturing,” Love said. “It was a very rigorous program, but at the university, it was more of a mill … lots of professors with some really high statures and published everywhere, making a name for themselves, so the student wasn’t the priority I felt it was at SUNY Adirondack.”
“The emphasis is on the student. The staff — teaching and administrative — they genuinely care. They see everybody — 60-yearolds, single moms, veterans with PTSD; the campus is genuinely a nurturing place. Other campuses would like to say that, but they can’t because the numbers are too high and their classes are too big,” he said. “If I did it all again, I’d do it the exact same way.”
As Love worked alongside graduates from such prestigious universities as Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rochester Institute of Technology, Stanford and other “high-powered brainiacs” at Knolls Atomic, he developed an even greater appreciation of what SUNY Adirondack provided him. Throughout the years, he maintained a relationship with the college and has been a generous supporter. In 2020, he was named to SUNY Adirondack’s Trailblazers Society, which recognizes
SUNY ADIRONDACK HAS 170 ACTIVE DUTY MILITARY, VETERANS, RESERVES, AND MILITARY AND VETERAN DEPENDENTS ENROLLED IN ITS STUDENT BODY.
“The degree program does a good job of introducing people to what’s out there in all the different facets of agriculture.”
HOMETOWN: HUDSON FALLS, NEW YORK 1987 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION 1991 GRADUATE OF CASTLETON UNIVERSITY, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BUSINESS 2020 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE IN AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS CURRENTLY: BRANCH OPERATIONS ASSOCIATE AT FARM CREDIT EAST, OWNER OF TAMARACK FARMS
Lori Benson is up by dawn every day and works well into the evening — long days by any account — but she wouldn’t trade a minute. By 5 a.m., when a few are rising to head to the gym, but most are still deep in slumber, Benson is feeding calves in the barn at Tamarack Farms, then driving a few miles up the road to check on a herd of 15 beef cattle, refreshing their food and water. She drives back to the farmhouse, showers and heads to work. After a day in Farm Credit East office, where she helps provide loans for agricultural ventures, she returns home to start the round of chores all over again — and that’s just in the winter, when she isn’t raising bees and harvesting saffron, a notoriously time-consuming endeavor. “It’s just trying to fit everything in when you can,” said Benson, who with her boyfriend also runs a composting business. “This is just my way of life, I’ve always loved animals from the time I was a tiny little kid,” Benson said. “Any opportunity I could get to be around animals, I took it.”
Benson grew up in Hudson Falls and earned an associate degree in Business Administration from SUNY Adirondack, then transferred to Castleton University, from which she earned a bachelor’s in Business. She worked for many years at a financial planning firm until 2019, when her boss made plans to retire. “I thought, ‘For the rest of my career life, I want to do something I love,’” Benson remembered. So she returned to SUNY Adirondack and earned a degree in Agricultural Business.
“I am thrilled with the connections the program brought me,” Benson said. She knew she wanted to work in a field that promotes an agricultural lifestyle. “I’ll be working with people who are more ‘my people,’ quote unquote, and it’s an industry that needs any help it can get,” Benson said. “I don’t think there was any goal to put on a Superman cape and lead charge, but if in any small way, I can facilitate someone furthering their agricultural adventures, that’s my reason.”
WARREN COUNTY SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT NAMED THE SUNY ADIRONDACK AGRICULTURAL BUSINESS PROGRAM AS ITS 2019 AGRICULTURAL ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT FARM OF THE YEAR. THE DISTRICT RECOGNIZED THE COLLEGE FOR ITS WORK TO CREATE THE AGRICULTURE PROGRAM AND THE CAMPUS FARM THROUGH CONSERVATION PRACTICES.
“It’s really the financial freedom you have that is unexplainable. I’m like the advocate for community college and SUNY schools.”
Human Resources Specialists
HOMETOWN: BALLSTON SPA, NEW YORK 2016 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION 2018 GRADUATE OF SUNY PLATTSBURGH, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN BUSINESS CURRENTLY: EMPLOYEE BENEFITS SPECIALIST AT ELLIS MEDICINE An email Sarah Valentine received her first year at college changed her life. “I remember getting an email about a free enterprise marathon event, it was talking about entrepreneurship and mastering public speaking,” the SUNY Adirondack graduate, Class of 2016, remembers. “I thought, ‘Well, shoot, I’m going to have to learn to be better public speaker,’ because coming out of high school, I was so shy and timid.” Valentine signed on to participate, then competed with a team of SUNY Adirondack students in the annual competition against other SUNY colleges.
SUNY ADIRONDACK HAS TRANSFER AGREEMENTS
WITH MORE THAN 30 FOUR-YEAR COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES. SUNY PLATTSBURGH AT QUEENSBURY serves more than 350 full- and part-time students in undergraduate and graduate degree programs.
“It was like jumping out of a plane for me: I was a nervous wreck, but I did it,” she said, explaining how she presented in front of the business department, was rated by judges and selected for a team going to the competition. They placed third. “I did it a second year and we ended up placing first,” she said. “That was the turning point for me.” She graduated from SUNY Adirondack with an associate degree in Business Administration, transferred to SUNY Binghamton, then to SUNY Plattsburgh’s branch at the SUNY ADK campus, from which she earned a bachelor’s in business.
After participating in a management training program at Enterprise, Valentine took a job at Ellis Hospital’s human resources department. “Applying for jobs out of school was very intimidating,” she said. “But then I realized what I did at SUNY Adirondack counts as experience and is what employers want to see. Working in human resources, I see it a lot too: When people say they want two or three years of experience, they really just want to see you’re a dedicated professional willing to put in the work. SUNY
Adirondack really helped me jumpstart my career.”
SUNY Adirondack students have the opportunity to take advantage of several unique dual admission and seamless transfer degree programs, completing the first two years of a bachelor’s degree at SUNY Adirondack while choosing from some of the best schools in the region to complete a four-year degree in specific degree programs, including: • SUNY Plattsburgh • Paul Smith’s College • Siena College • The College of Saint Rose • The University of Albany
SARAH, BOTTOM LEFT, STANDING WITH MEMBERS OF THE STUDENT SENATE, DR. DUFFY AND PROFESSOR WENDY JOHNSTON AT THE NEW YORK STATE CAPITOL IN MARCH 2016
“Going to SUNY Adirondack was close to home, I was able to stay at home and work while going to school, which was nice. Just being able to stay home and in a familiar area for a little while while I adjusted to what college would be like was a good choice.”
HOMETOWN: HUDSON FALLS, NEW YORK 2019 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN SCIENCE IN LIBERAL ARTS MATH & SCIENCE 2021 GRADUATE OF SUNY UPSTATE, BACHELOR OF SCIENCE IN MEDICAL TECHNOLOGY CURRENTLY: MEDICAL TECHNOLOGIST AT SUNY UPSTATE MEDICAL HOSPITAL
For as long as she can remember, Destiny Sheldon wanted to go to college. “College was always what I was going to do, even when I was a little kid,” said the 2019 SUNY Adirondack graduate. “I couldn’t see myself not going to college.” When Sheldon was a student in Hudson Falls schools, she learned about Upward Bound, a federally funded program that supports students from low-income families in pursuing college, and jumped at the opportunity.
“Being the first in my family to go to college, it really stood out to me as something that could be helpful in having that support,” she remembered. “They helped me through everything, with registration and applications, all the paperwork that had to be submitted, they were literally there every step of the way and it was great to have that kind of support.”
As part of the program, Sheldon visited numerous colleges. “Seeing a college online is one thing, but once you’re there, it can be completely different,” she said. Since she was interested in science, she chose to attend Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences. When her plans fell through because of funding, Sheldon took a gap year. “I was unsure what I wanted to do, so I took a year to get back on track,” she said. Then, she enrolled at SUNY Adirondack. “I was able to stay at home and work while going to school, which was nice.” Time to adjust to the demands of college wasn’t the only benefit of earning an associate degree in science from SUNY Adirondack. “The professors there really show they care about the students, which is something unique to a smaller school,” Sheldon said. She thrived at SUNY Adirondack, then transferred to Upstate Medical University. There, she discovered her calling: medical technology. For the past two years, Sheldon has been working in SUNY Upstate Medical Hospital’s blood bank as a support technologist. After graduating and securing a license, she has a job there as a medical technologist.
“Working directly with patients isn’t something I really want to do,” she said. “I tend to be more introverted, but I really like the aspect of being able to help people behind the scenes and I always loved hands-on lab work, so this is a really good fit for me.”
THE EDUCATIONAL OPPORTUNITY program (EOP) is a state-funded program for New York state residents who are educationally and economonically disadvantaged.
The primary objective is to help provide education services to students whose circumstances have limited their opportunities. EOP students receive support services to help them succeed academically in college.
RECENT EOP GRADUATES HAVE TRANSFERRED TO • Siena • SUNY Oneonta • SUNY Polytechnic • SUNY Upstate Medical • University at Albany • and are employed in the workforce
NATIONALLY, ONE-THIRD OF FIRST-GENERATION COLLEGE STUDENTS LEAVE WITHOUT EARNING A DEGREE, COMPARED WITH 14 PERCENT OF STUDENTS WITH PARENTS WHO EARNED A DEGREE.
“The Nursing faculty were very good to me, very supportive and I’m fortunate.”
HOMETOWN: CORINTH, NEW YORK 1982 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE OF APPLIED SCIENCE IN NURSING CURRENTLY: NURSE The expression is that it takes a village to raise a child, but Karen Colson’s hometown also had a hand in guiding her career path. Growing up in the close-knit town of Corinth, she looked up to Natalie, a woman who lived two doors down and was a nurse. “I’ve always wanted to be a nurse,” said Colson, who graduated from SUNY Adirondack with a degree in Nursing in 1982 and has worked in health care ever since. “I always said I wanted to be a nurse just like Natalie.” At the urging of her friend’s mother, who was also a nurse, Colson started college at Memorial School of Nursing in Albany after graduating from Corinth High School, but quickly returned home. When her friend’s mother died, though, he drove Colson to SUNY
Adirondack to meet with the dean and encouraged her to enroll. “He knew it was a dream of mine and his mother was always thrilled when girls from the neighborhood went to nursing school,” Colson remembered. To this day, she’s grateful for the people who helped lead her to nursing. Colson has worked in intensive care, organ procurement, dialysis and insurance. “I’ve done a lot in my career. Maybe I started out wanting to do one thing, but I’ve kept my eyes open to any opportunity — and I’ve gotten a lot of opportunities,” she said. “My father told me, ‘You can learn something new every day,’ and I’ve always lived in that philosophy. Health care is changing all the time and you have to adapt — advancing and learning new things, gaining more knowledge.”
Since the pandemic hit, Colson has worked for the state, first doing COVID testing, then training others and working in Javits Medical Station, then in the command center there. For the past year, she has been working for a call center, helping people understand their test results and explaining protocols. “The experiences I have had throughout my entire nursing career and the people I have touched through whatever I’ve been doing, it’s just amazing,” she said.
The college’s Nursing program is approved by the New York State Board of Education and is accredited by the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, a prestigious national accreditation that ensures a rigorous and quality program of study.
“The SUNY Adirondack Nursing faculty prepare students to meet the challenges of working in today’s rapidly changing health care system, and our graduates are making a difference for this community.” — Kim Hedley, Health Sciences Division Chair and Associate Professor of Nursing
“The instructor is great. I always call him for advice and questions I have.”
HOMETOWN: CASTLETON-ON-HUDSON, NEW YORK SUNY ADIRONDACK: ATTENDED OFFICE OF CONTINUING EDUCATION’S WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT WASTEWATER TREATMENT SERIES (BASIC OPERATIONS, ACTIVATED SLUDGE AND BASIC LABS) IN 2019
Joe Garavelli discusses sewage, chlorine levels, pump hours and water tanks with the same passion some display for baseball statistics or Civil War-era history. “I really enjoy what I do,” said Garavelli, the Water Superintendent/ Assistant Chief Wastewater Operator for the village of Castleton-on-Hudson. Garavelli grew up in the village and studied architectural technology at Hudson Valley Community College. “The degree I earned from there was before architecture was on the computer and just AutoCAD and drafting,” he said. “I took soils, concrete engineering — a well-rounded study.” The more he learned in college, the more he realized the issues his hometown faced. “The need for clean
water solutions, technological advancements, all these were things the village was really lacking in,” Garavelli said. “It really drew me to pursue networking through the board and trustees to try to get my way in, to prove I have the knowledge and experience in ways to advance the village and improve the quality of water.” He worked in architecture and construction for a time, then saw an entry-level laborer position open in the village. He applied, got the job and spent the next four years learning the nitty-gritty of daily operations. When his boss planned to retire, Garavelli decided it was time to move up the ladder.
SUNY Adirondack’s Office of Continuing Education’s Workforce Development program
IN THE PAST FIVE YEARS,
MORE THAN 10,700
PEOPLE HAVE REGISTERED FOR PROGRAMS THROUGH CONTINUING EDUCATION. THE CONTINUING EDUCATION OFFICE BEGAN OFFERING ONLINE NON-CREDIT
COURSES IN FEBRUARY 1999.
offered the classes he needed to take that step. He made the 90-minute commute to campus three nights a week taking courses in Basic Wastewater Operations, Activated Sludge and Basic Lab. Now, Castleton-on-Hudson’s wastewater treatment plant is undergoing a $7.5 million upgrade, a project Garavelli said will further ensure the quality of the village’s water and help keep its discharge — and, in turn, the Hudson River — clean. “The impact I can have in this position intrigued me,” he said. “I like providing for the community I grew up in.”
The Office of Continuing Education at SUNY Adirondack is dedicated to meeting your training needs through non-credit courses and programs for career preparation, professional development and training. Make SUNY Adirondack your first stop for: • • • • • • •
Customized training Certification, licensing and exam preparation courses Start-Up ADK, the small-business start-up and expansion course Adobe certification exams SUNY Workforce Development Grant funding information Online career training programs through Ed2Go Computer and software training
“The associate degree I earned at SUNY Adirondack allowed me to go wherever I wanted. I had a lot of options.”
HOMETOWN: FORT EDWARD, NEW YORK 1991 GRADUATE OF SUNY ADIRONDACK, ASSOCIATE IN ARTS IN LIBERAL ARTS & SOCIAL SCIENCES CURRENTLY: WRITER, HORSE TRAINER Jim Tracy was 8 years old when he had a near-brush with infamous Adirondack murderer Robert Garrow. He and his father went to check on their hunting camp while the North Country was in the throes of a manhunt the summer of 1973. “I remember going up there and seeing a big boot print in the middle of the table,” Tracy said, remembering how a card table was pushed up against the door so Garrow could climb through a window. “Even though I was 8, I was a precocious kid and started following the story.” Garrow was accused of two murders in the Adirondacks and kept the region rapt on a major news story and what at the time was the largest manhunt the state had seen. Tracy would again encounter the story as a reporter at The Post-Star, a daily newspaper in Glens Falls. His eight-day series earned Tracy a New York State Publishers Award. That series piqued his interest and led to a years-long pursuit of writing a book about the case. Earlier this year, Tracy’s “Sworn to Silence: The Truth Behind Robert Garrow and the Missing Bodies Case” was published by Post Hill Press and distributed by Simon & Schuster. “As much room as I had to write it for the paper, it still took a whole book to write the story,” Tracy said.
At the heart of the case — and book — are the two Syracuse-based attorneys who represented Garrow. He revealed to them that he killed other women and the locations of the bodies. The lawyers went to the locations and photographed the bodies, then had to decide whether they should reveal what they knew. “When lawyers are sworn into the New York Bar, part of the oath is to protect their clients’ secrets,” Tracy said. “So they kept the secret and it was a terrible burden for them. It came out in Garrow’s trial through testimony that the lawyers knew where the bodies were, and all hell broke loose.” “The actions of the lawyers are taught in law schools worldwide,” Tracy said. “So I thought, ‘This local story is really a national story, or even an international story’ because anyone who takes criminal law learns this attorney-client privilege. One professor said it’s a central case in understanding what it means to be a lawyer.” The lasting impact on the region still reverberates. “To this day, even almost 50 years later, there are still people who won’t talk about it; it’s too devastating,” Tracy said. Tracy focused on the book after successful careers in horse training and newspapers. He said the time he spent at SUNY Adirondack prepared him well for those and pursuit of a bachelor’s degree.
“I loved SUNY Adirondack. When I started my junior year, I felt well prepared and like my first two years had been better than my peers’.” But nothing readied him for the difficulty of securing a publisher for a book. “Being a first-time writer, people didn’t want to take a chance on me, but what I’ve learned about the publishing world is they really don’t know what’s going to sell if you aren’t Stephen King or John Grisham,” said Tracy, who used more than 100 sources to accurately tell the Garrow story. “The reporting and the writing wasn’t so bad, but it’s nearly impossible to break into the publishing world.”
Throughout its 60-year history, SUNY Adirondack has helped shape our region, providing generations of students the opportunity to build their futures. Today, we regularly welcome students whose parents and even grandparents are alumni. Their doctors and teachers started their educations here; one cousin played softball for the Timberwolves, another attended our Summer Enrichment program; their neighbors work here; the business owners in their neighborhood are graduates. For more than half a century, SUNY Adirondack has designed the fabric of our community, connecting us through shared ambition, love of the region and pride in its roots. By offering chances to grow and learn, the college has provided hope for continued success and faith in a thriving workforce. We raise our families knowing that educational opportunities are near and accessible; no matter our children’s interests, pursuit of their dreams can start just down the road at SUNY Adirondack. We confidently change careers or go after promotions with the training we receive at our community college. We adopt new hobbies, learn about our region’s many assets and meet new people through Continuing Education programs and public events on campus. SUNY Adirondack touches each of our lives, through the people we know, the businesses we love, the rich economy we support and the assurance that a better life can be built right here. Thank you for placing your confidence in us and in the value of a community college education. We are honored to be part of this community, your neighborhood, your family and your life. Sincerely,
Kristine D. Duffy, Ed.D. President
K C A D N O UNY ADIR
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*;
GREAT FUTURES START HERE. FIND EVERYTHING YOU NEED AT SUNY ADIRONDACK.
* For those who qualify
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.”
“Education is our passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to the people who prepare for it today.” - Malcolm X
GREAT FUTURES START HERE. FIND EVERYTHING YOU NEED AT SUNY ADIRONDACK.
Learn more at www.sunyacc.edu/admissions
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