Vanessa Vair Reitz ’06 | Priya Ravindran '09 | Kristin Quinn ’08 | Katherine Cook '06 |
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Cameron Jones '09 | Wendy Paterson '09 | Ryan Pregent '09 | KaeLyn Rich '05
Katie Meegan ’09 | Amy Kishpaugh ’05 | Maggie Dolly ’07
Vanessa Vair Reitz ’06 considers the four years she spent as a graphic design student at SUNY Oswego “a pivotal time” in her life.
Since graduating from Oswego, Reitz has stayed involved with her alma mater as president of GOLD (Graduates Of the Last Decade) Leadership Council. She attends and hosts regional alumni events; and gives back her time, talent and treasure whenever possible.
She lives and works in Buffalo, N.Y., with her husband, Justin Reitz ’07, and their 1-year-old son, Victor.
1. What I love about Oswego:
Oswego gave me so much. My life truly changed because of my time at Oswego.
2. Specific changes:
My degree at Oswego has earned me great career opportunities. I met my husband there. I’ve made countless friends and connections. We even bought our house and Justin became a Realtor because of a connection we made at an alumni event.
3. Life after Oswego:
After school I moved to White Plains, N.Y., to work for the Westchester Arts Council, now ArtsWestchester. Justin and I got married in 2009 and moved home to Buffalo, N.Y., in 2011. Now I teach communication design at Buffalo State.
4. Growth of GOLD network:
In 2007, I was asked to be a founding member of the GOLD Leadership Council. It was an honor to lay the groundwork for the group. GOLD became official in 2008 and has grown sevenfold since then.
5. The GOLD logo:
I designed it! We knew a sunset would resonate with students and alumni alike.
6. Staying involved:
I learned early on that being involved is important. As a student, I was the secretary and then president of Scales Hall. I worked at the Newman Center and played on the softball team. It’s a great way to meet people.
7. The Oswego family:
There are some pretty amazing alumni to come out of Oswego. Not every school has alumni like us. It seems like Oswego alumni are always happy to share their great experiences with fellow alumni, current students and future students.
8. Giving back:
My husband and I help out as much as we can, with both time and money. I didn’t realize the impact alumni gifts make until I joined the GOLD Leadership Council. I want current students to know what I didn’t. I also connect with students and recent grads pursuing careers in graphic design through the Alumni Sharing Knowledge, ASK, program.
9. Advice for other young alumni:
Get involved! Host an event near you. It’s fun and really easy. Or at least go to an event. It’s a great way to network. Our alumni are very approachable.
10. Life after GOLD:
Wow! I can’t believe I only have a couple years left as GOLD. I definitely foresee myself continuing to being involved the Oswego Alumni Association. Whenever I get involved with something, I’m usually hard to shake.
Oswego is a long way from home for Priya Ravindran ’09. She grew up near Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, and left home after 17 years to earn two bachelor’s degrees in journalism and global and international studies at Oswego, picking up a minor in French along the way.
After earning a master’s at Fordham University in political science, Ravindran returned to India to work as a research and documentation officer and program manager with Children’s Future India, a non-profit organization dedicated to the welfare of underprivileged children.
1) How you learned about Oswego:
I hadn’t heard of Oswego until I was at a college fair in India and an Oswego representative, Ryan Lemon ’00, was present.
2) From Bombay to Oswego:
Ryan was so friendly and welcoming; plus, Oswego offered me free room and board and a merit scholarship, so that was a huge factor, too. When I first came to Oswego, I wanted to become a news reporter. My mom coaxed me into taking a more “academic” major.
3) Your best travel tip:
I have so many! It really helps if you do your research about a culture first. Having a meal with a family is a great way of experiencing a new culture, but just having a coffee or tea in a cafe outside is a good way of relaxing and sinking into a culture.
4) How Oswego is different from home:
The cold! And coming from a city of 5 million, I was initially taken aback at the small size of the city.
5) Why Children’s Future India:
In India, I saw poverty firsthand. It wasn’t until my politics and international studies class at Oswego that I became passionate about working with an NGO. I chose Children’s Future India because I wanted to play a little part in an organization that works to better these children’s lives.
6) What’s next:
In a couple months I’m moving to Ukraine, and I hope to continue working for a similar organization there.
7) Why pick up the French minor:
I was exempt from the foreign language requirement since my first language is not English. I had done two years of French in India, but took French 101 on my adviser’s insistence. My professor Allen Stagl was amazing and so animated while teaching, he made me fall in love with the language.
8) How many languages do you speak:
My mother tongue, Tamil, as well as English, French and Hindi fluently. I’m currently learning Russian because it’s one of the official languages of the United Nations. I plan to learn Ukrainian as well.
9) Down the road:
Some day I would like to get into the United Nations and possibly move back to New York.
10) What is special about Oswego:
It’s such a close-knit community. The opportunities I had at Oswego, meeting people from all over the world, having the best teachers, working at the front desk at Hart Hall, reporting for WTOP, and volunteering for various community service projects, changed me as a person.
Kristin Quinn ’08, accustomed to conducting interviews, said it felt “weird” to be on the response side, talking about her two passions: 1. advocating for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis research and 2. writing.
A resident of Arlington, Va., Kristin is communications and publications director for the U.S. Geospatial Intelligence Foundation. After earning an Oswego degree with a double major in journalism and creative writing, she completed a master’s in newspaper and online journalism at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University, and moved to Washington, D.C.
1) How you wound up in D.C.:
When I got out of grad school, the job market was poor, but D.C. was insulated from the slump. When I got a job at a trade association magazine, my best friend from Oswego, Danielle Dills ’07, let me sleep on her couch.
2) How you moved up:
My first job, writing about the printing press industry, helped me build a resume, and from there I was hired to write about aerospace and defense technology for Gannett Government Media.
3) What you learned traveling for that job:
I was a lot more independent than I thought. In 2011, I covered a conference in Germany. I had never been overseas, so it was pretty scary. But it’s empowering to look back and realize I did that all on my own.
4) Now you interview high profile people:
I was excited recently to write about Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. But after years of interviewing people from all walks of life, I have become less intimidated by status. We are all the same, all trying to do our best.
5) Where we read that article:
In the 2013 Issue 3 of Trajectory. I’m managing editor of the magazine.
6) Why you volunteer for ALS research:
First, ALS runs in my family. It took my grandfather and my aunt, and it is now affecting my mom. Beyond the personal, though, is just to let people know more about this fatal disease.
7) When you testified about ALS before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration:
Those running the hearings were concerned I would get emotional, so I switched into professional mode. It’s important to raise awareness that a cure is needed, and I wanted to give an articulate account of my experience.
8) Those at risk for ALS:
ALS can affect anyone, anywhere, at any age. Chances are there is someone living with ALS in every community.
9) What people can do:
Get involved with fundraisers that help support research for a cure or that help patients with the high expenses of living with the disease.
10) Best Oswego memory:
Working into the wee hours of the morning at the Oswegonian down in the dungeon of Hewitt. We had a great team from the Class of 2008, and we always had a good time reporting campus news.
Katherine Cook '06
A laboratory internship with chemistry professor Kestas Bendinskas and summer of hands-on experience at W.R. Grace & Co., thanks to the support of W.R. Grae CEO Fred Festa ‘81, eventually put Katherine Cook ‘06 on the front line of fighting breast cancer.
“The extra attention and opportunities offered at Oswego made me a competitive candidate for graduate school,” said Cook, who pursued her Ph.D. at Wake Forest University.
A postdoctoral research fellow at Georgetown University, Cook aims to make a common form of breast cancer treatment more effective. The disease has touched several members of her family.
“Understanding breast cancer is a personal goal and the reason I went into cancer research.”
1) Hardest part of lab work: I guess the hardest part of lab work would be staying positive when things don’t work — which in science is quite often. Science can be harsh: experiments don’t work, manuscripts get rejected and grants don’t get funded.
2) Easiest way to handle it: Easiest way to handle the negativity is loving what you do. I went into science because I enjoy figuring out problems (and you get to use fun equipment).
3) Least missed part of undergraduate life: The winters! Safe to say Oswego cured me of my love for snow. I promptly moved south after that!
4) Tiniest particle you’ve ever seen: I just finished a project where we looked at the effect of chemotherapeutic drugs on mitochondrial structure through electron microscopy.
5) Biggest discovery you’ve ever made: In graduate school I had the opportunity to work on a compound that we were able to translate into clinical trials. It is very rewarding to see your work go on to treat patients!
6) Most impossible science term to spell: Therapeutic. The E and the U always get switched … but that is what spell check is for! And Don’t get me started on European journals that use British spelling.
7) Favorite professor? Dr. Kestas Bendinskas, of course Jim Mackenzie comes in a close second. I did my internship project working with Kestas and the hands-on lab experience really helped with getting into graduate school. Both professors were very approachable and happy to help you with any problems either lab technical questions or questions with class work. They would have to be the reason I continued on in science. Thanks, guys!
8) Most memorable Oswego moment: Bridge Street Run of course! The next day the fountain was always green and filled with soap bubbles!
9) Favorite Oswego nightspot: Coleman’s. Thursday trivia night and Guinness Burgers were the best!
10) Best place to grab breakfast: Nothing beats Wade’s for Saturday morning breakfasts!
Every day starts with a good morning for Cameron Jones '09. WSTM-TV (Syracuse) and WMYW-TV (New York) intern hopes to make his way to the front of the cameras eventually, but loves learning all aspects of the broadcasting business.
A member of the Future Alumni Network as a student, Cameron stays active with the Graduates Of the Last Decade Leadership Council.
Cameron’s advice: “If you use the tools you are given at OSWEGO and stay connected, you’re going to be successful.”
1) Key to a good morning: My key to a good morning is started with my Pandora radio, specifically the Anita Baker station. Listening to the classic oldies puts me in the perfect zone to make a good morning a great morning!
2) Part of a complete breakfast: I love pancakes and cream cheese bagels — separately of course, everything bagels to be exact. But I would not be myself without having a banana and at least one cup of coffee.
3) Go-to Oswego dining hall dinner item: Anything off the grill at Pathfinder dining hall from paninis, cheese steaks, chicken phillies, burgers, waffle fries —Oh my!
4) Favorite campus activity/organization: There are just too many! Big shout out to FANs (Future Alumni Network), Department of Campus Life, Residence Life, Phi Beta Sigma Rho Xi chapter, Student Association and ALANA!
5) Greatest Oswego experience: My favorite Oswego experience by far was being a building manager working in Hewitt Union and the Campus Center at Campus Life. I learned many Valuable skills that I use to this very day, built great relationships, and it offered an enormous professional trajectory.
6) Worst thing about leaving Oswego: I miss the carefree, casual life where there appeared to be a sense of security — a safe haven.
7) Best thing about coming back: I love to see the new developments at the college, whether it be new structures, academic progress, reconnecting or meeting students.
8) Coolest internship: Coolest internship was when I did news reporting at WTM-TV Channel 3 in Syracuse. I learned the craft of reporting and working at a television station. Most of all, I got front-row seat journeying throughout Central New York to places I would have otherwise not known.
9) Dream job: I think I am at my dream job. I’ve dreamed big all my life and I seized a golden opportunity to work at ABC News and to be part of the Good Morning America family! I intend to keep growing, learning and seeing what can come of this experience.
10) Words of wisdom: To always strive to set a good example in work ethic and relationship building. You ever know who may be watching or looking, but just know that someone always is.
Wendy Paterson '09, a former Outstanding Senior Award recipient, is currently pursuing a remarkable career in varying locales.
Wendy was an environmental educator at the Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge in Maine before helping with animal recovery efforts in Alabama following the 2010 Gulf oil spill.
A graduate assistant teaching introductory biology labs at Central Michigan University, Wendy originally aspired to be a zookeeper.
“Then [at Oswego] I was introduced to the scientific process and looking at the ecosystem as a whole as opposed to just taking care of the animal,” said Wendy, who is researching mussels in the Great Lakes.
1) Michigan must-visit: I just visited Grand Haven, Mich. I am involved with mussel research in the Grand River and we stayed in Grand Haven for the night. It is a beautiful location with lots of festivals, restaurants and outdoor entertainment.
2) Oswego must-take course: My two favorite courses at Oswego were “Wetland Ecology” taught by Dr. Eric Hellquist and “Forensic Anthropology.”
3) Lake Ontario or Rice Creek? That is a hard choice. Rice Creek was my home but Lake Ontario is my inspiration.
4) On campus or off? I lived on campus during every fall and spring semester. I like the convenience. I really liked living in Moreland my last year because
it was peaceful and you had your own room.
5) Favorite zoo animal: I am a big fan of otter exhibits because they are such playful animals. There are some very nice ones in New York including the Wild Center, the Ross Park Zoo and the Rosamond Gifford Zoo. A close second would be butterfly gardens and leaf cutter ants, which are often found together.
6) No. 1 pet: My favorite pet would be a dog. Thousands of years of artificial selection lead to the perfect pet.
7) A teaching assistant’s No. 1 pet peeve: Students not paying attention and not reading the syllabus. There are only so many times I can go over the content in the syllabus before I become annoyed.
8) No. 1 reason to attend Oswego: My best answer is diversity. There is a little bit of everything. It was an endless buffet in courses, clubs and events. I couldn’t take all the courses or join all the clubs I wanted to in just four years.
9) Last place you look: The place I put it so I would not lose it.
10) Great book: My favorite series is Harry Potter by JK Rowling and my favorite nonfiction book is The Song of the Dodo by David Quammen.
Ryan Pregent '09
Some 17,000-plus have played professional baseball in this country and only 206 of them are in the Hall of Fame. There are more than 200 employees at the Hall; Ryan Pregent '09 is one of them.
"I used to come down every year without fail with my Dad, so it's kind of cool that I work here now," says Ryan, an Oswego business major who went to Cortland for his sports management master's. As membership associate, he cultivates a key source of fundraising. Ryan occasionally gives tours, takes tickets, blogs and runs a movie projector, but often marvels at the history and lore surrounding him.
1) Best business class: Business Law 350 (I think that was the course number). I had a great professor and it was one class I always looked forward to.
2) Worse grade: C-. I can remember the paper, the professor and exactly what I did wrong - it has stuck with me.
3) Favorite ballplayer: My all-time favorite player is Lou Gehrig. I really enjoy watching Robinson Cano and Roy Halladay for players of today.
4) Least favorite stat: Earned Run Average is easily eschewed by other factors in the game and fails to tell the whole story.
5) No. 1 team: The Yankees are my favorite team. I am also a huge Jets fan.
6) Great Hall of Fame exhibit: The Pride and Passion exhibit. It profiles the Negro leagues. There is a lot jam-packed in a small space and a lot of great interactive opportunities for visitors.
7) Hardest Hall of Fame job: To be honest, all the jobs have ups and downs and I am not sure there is a hardest job. I guess it all depends on who you talk to.
8) Easiest meal: Pizza. All you have to do is dial.
9) Cooperstown hidden gem? Doubleday Field is a throwback to small-town ballparks. It has a beautiful facade and is tucked away off of Main Street. A lot of people know it's here - they just can't find it.
10) Top Oswego spot: Greene's Ale House. Good food and wings always always a must.
KaeLyn Rich '05 has been an advocate for social justice as long as she can remember.
As Genesee Valley chapter director of the New York Civil Liberties Union, Rich advocates for women's, LBGT and immigrant rights among many other social issues.
English Writing Arts and women's studies major, she served as co-director of the Women's Center, treasurer of Vega and cast director of the peer-education theatre troupe Melodramatics.
"I have been attracted toward jobs that allow me to get paid for activism and standing up for justice," Rich said. "The Women's Center inspired me to truly do work that I love, that feeds my activist soul."
1) Best Oswego moment: Sitting in the nook outside of Penfield Library with friends, "studying" (cough, cough) and enjoying the few fleeting weeks of sunny weather at the end of my last semester.
2) Worst Oswego weather: The infamous ice storm of 2003 - Classes were actually canceled and we all know classes are NEVER canceled at Oswego.
3) Superpower: Superduperfast talking. I could be one of those people that say all the deadly side effects on radio ads for prescription drugs.
4) Soft spot: Adoptable pets, especially little critters like rabbits and rats. I wish I could adopt them all!
5) Good book: My favorite book changes all the time. Most recently, I was completely sucked into Wench, a historical fiction novel by Dolen Perkins-Valdez.
6) Bad rap: Getting uncontrollably loud when I get excited about something - helpful when organizing a rally, not helpful over dinner in a quiet restaurant.
7) Great food: I make some pretty tasty Buffalo Tofu, my potluck specialty since my Oz days.
8) Favorite Oswego extra-curricular: The Women's Center was my home away from home from 2002 to 2005. I was so sad when I had to turn in my office key.
9) Coolest Oswego curricular: Helping produce the first SUNY Oswego production of "The Vagina Monologues" in 2003.
10) Best advice: You have to do what you love. Figure out what you are passionate about and don't let anything hold you back.
Katie Meegan ’09
Most people wouldn’t think of cleaning up poop as a career pinnacle. But for Katie Meegan ’09, taking care of animals — and their business — is her business.
She's a Buffalo Zoo animal care specialist who moonlights with professional zoologist and TV personality Jarod Miller '00, whom she met when the Biology Club brought him to campus. Today they work together several days a week, showing animals locally and on television shows like the Late Show with David Letterman.
"I'm doing what I want to do. So as far as I'm concerned, I've already made it," says Meegan. "I love teaching people how cool animals really are."
1) Coolest animal you've handled: That's tough. It'd probably have to be a tie between a tapir and a Siberian lynx.
2) Most loved stuffed animal as a kid: A small stuffed lion that I called Lioness.
3) Favorite Rice Creek pastime: My senior year I would escape there to study during the warmer weather and not tell anyone where I was going. I still won't reveal my secret spot.
4) Downside of animal handling: Sometimes I smell. Who am I kidding? Most of the time I smell.
5) Upside of Oswego's weather: It truly makes you appreciate the nicer weather but you also can't beat the sunsets.
6) Dogs or cats? Dogs. I can't stand cleaning kitty litter.
7) Rudy's or Sub Shop? Rudy's all the way. There is something about sitting next to the lake that eating a sub can't come close to.
8) Yes, please: Buffalo Sabres hockey.
9) No, thank you: Snow. I've had enough snow and cold weather to last a lifetime.
10) Little-known fact: Gorillas and chimpanzees have a cluster of sweat glands under their arms (like humans) and may have smelly armpits after exercise.
Oswego put Amy Kishpaugh ’05 on the fast track. The recent recipient of the CNY Sales & Marketing Executives’ Excellence Award said she was able to get involved with WTOP-TV and the National Broadcasting Society essentially from the moment she arrived.
“Oswego was a wonderful experience for me,” says Amy, who also interned with New York news channel NY1. “It really laid the foundation; it was a great stepping stone.” She was inspired to get into sales by a student project. Five years later, Amy is recognized as one of Syracuse’s best in the field. “It’s humbling,” she said.
1) You’ve clocked five years as a pro. Forecast for the next five? I have some personal revenue goals I plan on hitting, plus I am going to get my MBA.
2) Pick five favorite things about Central New York: The area lakes, Dinosaur BBQ, the summer weather, SU basketball games and the fact that there are kickball leagues.
3) Alright, Spanish minor, say something cool in Spanish: Yo quiero Taco Bell.
4) Translation? That phrase demonstrates the power of advertising. It needs no translation.
5) You grew up in Southern California. How did you survive the Oswego winters? Luckily, I was able to travel home every winter break.
6) Toughest WTOP story: Naturally, our executive board didn’t always agree. It was tough being friends, but also trying to run the station.
7) Easiest decision: Going into a career in television after graduation.
8) Saddest song you’ve ever heard: I only listen to upbeat music. I find that it influences my attitude and helps me succeed at my job.
9) Funniest residence hall shenanigans: If I told you, I’d have to kill you.
10) Yummiest item in an Oswego dining hall: Hands down, the Snickers ice cream. Students used to fight to get them!
Maggie Dolly ’07 measures her success by how few seconds it takes to see her name in the credits.
After working in production of Discovery’s “Deadliest Catch” and more recent “The Colony,” it’s a scant three.
Monitoring dozens of camera feeds can be tedious and the hours long, but Maggie savors every moment with Original Productions.
She was drawn to California by the Hollywood POV program as a student.
“That sealed the deal,” Maggie remembers. “I didn’t even know there were so many jobs and opportunities on top of it being sunny and 85 degrees all the time.”
1) What would be the title of a reality TV show about you? I would have to go with “O... Dolly,” ‘O’ being my middle initial.
2) Blackberry or iPhone? I am new to the Blackberry world and love it but must admit I have total iPhone envy.
3) No. 1 Oswego spot: The block between Bridge Street and Cayuga Street, between Second and Third streets houses all of my favorites: my house senior year, The Raven, The Brick, Enzo’s and Hong Kong. What more could you want or need?
4) Second best California hangout: By the waterside, beach or pool is all good with me.
5) Tastiest beverage: Mount Morgan — Captain Morgan and Mountain Dew (same ratios as a Captain and Coke). I know it doesn’t sound very tasty, but give it a try — it soooo is!
6) Nastiest food: Sushi. It’s all the rave but my taste buds say, ‘No way!’
7) Smartest move: New York to LA. It has been the best decision of my life.
8) Dumbest catch phrase: “That’s hot.” It’s really not.
9) On your wall: In my room, pictures from home and Dennis The Menace cartoons. On Facebook, the following status update: Maggie Dolly is watching “The Duchess” and wondering how the carriage drivers knew how to get to these castles in the middle of nowhere without maps? No wonder it took them weeks to go places, they were probably traveling in a zigzag.
10) Best vacation ever: Living in SoCal feels like a vacation everyday. I love going home to see my family, but don’t really consider that a vacation. I’d have to go with Paris, sophomore year, spring break with C and Ralph as part of the GST 300 course.