As they have grown, changed and worked to earn their degrees, UAlbany's graduating class of 2003 has also seen war, recession and the tragedy of 9/11. With Commencement approaching, five seniors took a few moments to reflect on their experiences at UAlbany and what lies ahead.
Hometown: Bethpage, NY
Major: Rhetoric & Communications
As a senior at Bethpage High School, I was pretty set on attending SUNY Binghamton but, after being awarded a Presidential Scholarship and visiting the University at Albany campus, I changed my mind.
I knew a University center would be a world away from Bethpage High School, but I didnít realize how many opportunities there would be for me here. In my four years I have: tutored children with the America Reads program, climbed the highest mountain in New York State with the Outing Club, completed a full-time internship in the State Senate, studied abroad in London, participated in the nationally recognized Middle Earth Playerís Peer Theatre program, brought local anchorwoman Lydia Kulbida to campus to speak to members of our National Communication Association, and served as President of the Communication Departmentís Honor Society Lambda Pi Eta.
My high school experience can be described as being trapped in "the Bethpage bubble." Coming here really opened my eyes to the real world and the more turbulent times that we live in. The world seems like a more hazardous place than it did four years ago. Everything is different after 9/11. I remember walking around campus like a zombie the following week. It hit so close to home. Luckily, I had become involved with Middle Earth. It was amazing to have such a close network of comforting people during that difficult period of time.
I first came to the University expecting to study pre-med, but after a while I realized that wasnít right for me and found my own path. I delved into Psychology and then Business before finding my passion forÖ Communication. Taking a suggestion from a friend, I took a few classes and realized shortly thereafter that this was the right path for me.
Pivotal or life changing experiencesÖ
Second semester sophomore year everything just fell into place. A roommate moved out and my best friend moved in. I met Sean, the Physics major from across the hall, who would become my boyfriend. I took a few courses in Communication and immediately realized my calling. I also became involved with our Collegiate Chapter of National Communication Association (formerly known as Student Association of Communication) and also applied to be a Middle Earth Peer Educator. My GPA also began to rise.
I have so many amazing ties to the faculty and staff here at UAlbany, but I wouldnít be where I am today without the faith and support from my advisor John Downey. During my first few semesters, I e-mailed him frequently requesting urgent advice on what I should be doing. No matter what I mentioned, he believed that I could handle the task. Weíve had discussions about everything from my desire to study abroad to my numerous changes in my course of study. He has always encouraged me to follow my dreams and has helped me get the guts to follow through. He has been an advisor, a mentor and a close friend to me. I canít imagine my experience here without him.
I came to UAlbany as a shy, confused, indecisive 18-year old. Four years later I feel that Iím ready for everything. Iíve met some of the most amazing people here, including advisors, professors, faculty, friends, and especially my boyfriend Sean, who has been an incredible influence since I met him my sophomore year. The two internships I had prepared me for the real world more than anything else has. I work now in the Office of Advancement Events and have helped organize the kickoff of the new UAlbany logo, attended the Capital Campaign kickoff, have met Hillary Clinton, and am helping coordinate volunteers for Commencement 2003. One of the most important things that I have learned in college is that things do not fall into your lap. The only way to accomplish things is to take the initiative.
I have so many ties to the University that it would be impossible to let that go. This University has done so much for me as an undergraduate. I think the University offers a lot to its alumni. As an intern in the Office of Advancement Events, I have seen up close and personal what the University does for alumni, and am looking forward to being a part of that. All of my interactions with UAlbany alumni have been enjoyable and enlightening. Recently, I met with an alumna from the class of í69 who was reminiscing about Minnie (the Minerva statue standing in front of the Science Library). The experience left me with a sense of pride about my University.
I have such mixed feelings about Commencement, to say the least. Iím very excited to be done with all the work, but I hate to let go of my life here. Iím ready for everything that is to come in the future. Iím already looking back fondly about my experience here, and Iím not done yet!
When I graduate Iíd like to go into public relations or events planning. I feel that I have a great background because of my internship experience in the Office of Advancement Events, and a strong theoretical background provided by our Communication Department. It is difficult going out into the workforce in a time of recession. My two immediate goals are to find a job and not move home with my family. So far, so good.
Commencement May 2003