MA (1990)- Russian
Rochelle Runyon and her husband were US Army Russian linguists, and wanted to continue with the Russian language after their tour of duty in Germany. He chose Political Science as his major at the Rockefeller College, focusing on International Relations, specifically Soviet/Russian studies, minoring in Russian, a combination unique to SUNY Albany.
Ms. Runyon tells us, “My dream, since a Russian immigrant sat next to me in high school homeroom, was to learn Russian. Financially, I thought there was no hope for a college education, but military benefits, NYS grants and SUNYA’s reasonable tuition made it possible. I majored in Russian and minored in Russian and East European Studies. This was rounded out with independent study in Hebrew, continuing 10 years of study which began in second grade, and a Spanish conversation class to refresh three years of high school Spanish. Not only did SUNY Albany have everything we sought, it was the ONLY institution that did!“
Ms. Runyon enrolled in the combined BA/MA program in Russian, and because she had completed half of the graduate Russian coursework as an undergraduate, she was able to take courses in the Certificate of Advanced Study program in Russian translation.
Shortly before her graduation, Ms. Runyon interviewed at the National Security Agency in Maryland. She was hired into a position created exclusively for her. No one else was hired that year, and only one person had been hired in the previous two years. She say, “ When I met my supervisor, she was holding my SUNY Albany transcripts. She said they were impressed with the variety of languages from distinct language families. (I had also taken German in the Army.) It was also noted that I was on an accelerated path, taking challenging coursework. I thank SUNY Albany for making that available to me via the BA/MA program, advanced study, and by entrusting me with the graduate assistantship. “
Ms. Runyon worked full time at NSA for four years, translating documents and writing reports for federal agencies, then was able to reduce her position to half time when she had two more children. She adds, “Two years later I resigned, closing out the position code with me. That’s right - the National Security Agency created and discontinued a position for a SUNY Albany graduate from the language department!”
She attended Russian immersion training in Saint Petersburg and Moscow, Russia, as well as refresher courses at Brigham Young University, UT, at NSA, and at an Army school in Massachusetts and continued to work at NSA as an Army Reserve Russian linguist until retiring in 2002.
Ms. Runyon currently home schools one of her children and takes classes in Yiddish with another. Two of her daughters, one who is a high school senior this year, want to major in Judaic Studies/Hebrew at SUNYA, minor in Russian, and take course work in their other languages. She tells LLC, “We are hoping that this course path will be available to them, the next generation.”