UAlbany Graduates: Proven Performers Ready for New Challenges

By Greta Petry (May 17, 2007)

UAlbany's newest graduates include one of the "Lost Boys of the Sudan," a star on the track and in the classroom, an energetic student CEO, and many other outstanding students who have proven themselves during their time on campus and are now ready to tackle new challenges. Here are a few of their stories:

Alex LogonoAlex Logono: A "Lost Boy" Begins New Journey to Find Ailing Mother
On May 20, Alex Logono graduates from the University at Albany with a bachelor's degree in biology. A day later, he leaves for southern Sudan to find his mother, Lona Sitty Momuru, whom he has not seen in 19 years.

Logono was separated from his mother and the rest of his family, when war broke out in Sudan. His aunt Maria was killed. At the age of 9, he became one of the "Lost Boys of the Sudan."

He came to the U.S. in 2000, when the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) allowed Logono and 4,500 others to emigrate to the U.S. Through the sponsorship of the Lutheran Church Federation, he was sent to Utica, where he entered Mohawk Valley Community College and later transferred to UAlbany in the Educational Opportunity Program.

About a month ago, he received news through friends in Uganda who occasionally travel to impoverished Sudan that his mother is seriously ill and can't walk. According to Logono, with little proper medical care available in the village of Lanyi, he plans to bring her to Uganda for treatment.

It will take three days to get to Sudan, and from there it will take him two days to walk to the village, which is not accessible by car. For a man who walked a thousand miles as a boy to reach the Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya in 1992, it's not impossible. Logono had fled with thousands of other young children from government troops bent on punishing the Christians and Animists of the south for not accepting radical Islamic Sharia law. (See earlier story on Logono.)

"There were 25,000 of us. Only 16,000 survived," Logono said.

The odds were against him then and he made it. He is applying that same determination to finding his mother and obtaining treatment for her.

It is small wonder, then, that Logono's dream is to become a medical doctor and open a free clinic in southern Sudan for people who lack medical attention. Many diseases in the area, like meningitis and cholera, can be prevented with proper medical assistance. "It is very important to me to go and educate my people," he said.

Asked why he can't bring his mother to the U.S. for medical treatment, he said that he has submitted the appropriate paperwork for "family unification" in Utica, but has been told his file cannot be found, and, even if found, would take two to three years to process.

To make the journey, he is taking a one-month-leave from his job at St. Peter's Hospital as a technical care associate, where he works 12-hour weekend shifts.

The MCATs (Medical College Admission Test) will have to wait a while. Until then, Logono relies on his faith. "I pray first before I do anything," he said. "I believe that God has a plan for me...I believe in trusting him." Logono said. "God is the one who helped me survive. Many did not make it. There were a lot of kids who lost their lives in the refugee camps."

Who is Logono's main source of encouragement on campus?

"Mostly I go to Dr. (Carson) Carr. He says there is nothing impossible for you. If you put forth the effort and you are determined, you will be able to succeed," Logono concluded.


Alyssa LotmoreAlyssa Lotmore: A Star on the Track and in the Classroom
Alyssa Lotmore found tremendous opportunities in and out of the classroom as well as the diversity she was seeking – all at the University at Albany.

Diversity was important to Lotmore because most of prior her education occurred in small, private schools. "At the University, there is diversity in everything you can think of," she said. "There are debates in classes and people have differing opinions."

Lotmore graduates with equally strong records in academics and athletics. With a 3.85 average and an anticipated 4.0 her final semester, Lotmore is a recipient of the Chancellor's Award for academic excellence. Tapped as a President's Scholar-Athlete at the Great Danes' awards banquet (only one male and one female are chosen), she won the America East individual title in both the 3,000 and 5,000 meters in indoor track this winter. Lotmore said her best event is the 5,000 meter, which is 3.1 miles, 12.5 laps on the outdoor track. She holds the school records in these events, and has twice qualified for the NCAA regional meet for outdoor track.

"Alyssa is one of the most dedicated, hardworking and conscientious student-athletes that I have had the pleasure to work with in my career," said her coach, Roberto Vives.

Vives had a lot to do with Lotmore's decision to attend UAlbany. "I really liked Coach Vives's positive personality. The team was very family-oriented, and I like that. I thought that Albany would offer me the best opportunities, both academically and athletically," said Lotmore, of Albany.

What was the best part of her experience at UAlbany?

"Having teammates whom I have become great friends with. I loved having the opportunity to compete and represent the University. I also loved the traveling – Texas, Puerto Rico, North Carolina, Boston, and New York City. These were all great experiences that I will never forget."

Graduating with a Bachelor of Science in social welfare, her combined major/minor, Lotmore said, "I am very sad to be leaving my team. I will still be at Albany, but now as a graduate student in the School of Social Welfare (where she is taking an accelerated program that starts this summer.) While acquiring my master's, I still plan to run, mostly 5k and 10k road races, but hopefully a few half marathons and full marathons!"

Who is Lotmore's biggest supporter?

"My mother. She is a single parent who has worked so hard. She comes to all my track meets. I always know she is there supporting me and believing in me."


Nick ChiuchioloNick Chiuchiolo: UAlbany's Energetic Student CEO
What makes Nick Chiuchiolo tick? When you read his bio on the University at Albany's Spirit Zone page, you can't help but wonder if he ever sleeps.

A political science major and business minor from Blue Point, N.Y., Chiuchiolo's name is synonymous with student government. As President of the Student Association, he served as chief executive officer, overseeing the association's $2 million budget for student groups, events, and services. He was also chief executive officer of Camp Dippikill, UAlbany's 850-acre camp and nature preserve in the Adirondacks.

In addition, he was President of the Class of 2007 and Vice President of the University Auxiliary Services Board of Directors. In all these positions, Chiuchiolo was an energetic advocate for students, working to improve student activities and campus life.

But his involvement didn't stop there.

Chiuchiolo hit the books, too, and was tapped by State University of New York (SUNY) Chancellor John R. Ryan to be among UAlbany's recipients of the Chancellor's Award, an honor for which one needs at least a 3.78 grade point average to be considered. Chiuchiolo belongs to a list of academic honor societies as long as your arm, including Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society, the Presidential Honors Society, and Pi Sigma Alpha (the political science honor society). After graduation, Chiuchiolo plans to attend law school on Long Island.

From athletic events to University concerts and comedy shows, Chiuchiolo has truly taken advantage of all that UAlbany has to offer. He finds motivation by surrounding himself with highly driven people, including peers, family, and professionals. Following in his older sister's footsteps, Chiuchiolo hopes to practice law and enter a public service career.

For fun he enjoys being with friends, playing golf, and being on the water.


Esmeralda HoscoyEsmeralda Hoscoy: First in Her Family to Graduate from College
Esmeralda Hoscoy's mother is always telling her "You can do it." Hoscoy, a member of the Class of 2007 with a double major in political science and Hispanic Studies, has taken that message to heart.

"No one in my family had ever been to high school, let alone college," said Hoscoy, who had never heard of college until her high school counselor, encouraged her to go because she would be in a stronger position in the labor market with a degree. Now Hoscoy's younger brother is going, too.

"My mom turned 15 on Oct. 15, 1985, and I was born on Oct. 24, that same year in San Fernando, Mexico," said Hoscoy, who became a U.S. citizen in 2004. Shortly after Esmeralda's birth, her mother crossed the Rio Grande and moved to Donna, Texas, a town on the border between Texas and Mexico. Her mom worked at various jobs, later meeting Esmeralda's stepfather, who was in the Navy. Hoscoy started kindergarten in the U.S. She spoke Spanish at home and English at school. Her mother and stepfather had two more children, and the family moved frequently because of his Navy duty.

Hoscoy attended four different high schools in Donna, Texas, and in Utica, N.Y.

"I came to visit the University at Albany campus and I loved it," said Hoscoy, who is outgoing and adaptable to change. "I wanted to do something big, to go where no one knew me and strike out on my own." She was admitted to UAlbany's Educational Opportunity Program.

By any objective measure, Hoscoy has "done something big." She was vice president of the Student Association from April 2004 to May 2006, has been a director on the University Auxiliary Services Board since 2003, was an intern this semester with the New York State Senate; and is Web master of Phi Alpha Delta Pre-Law Fraternity.

"I've always worked," she said. Hoscoy has worked 30 to 40 hours a week throughout college, at various jobs, including American Eagle Outfitters in Albany, and as a student assistant in the Office of Parking and Mass Transit.

"I plan to attend graduate school; a master's in public policy from Rockefeller College is my goal," said Hoscoy. After graduate school, she plans to go to law school in New York State.

"My ultimate goal is to help my family financially so that they all have the opportunities and experiences that I have had. I want them to be successful," she said. Hoscoy lends them financial support, encourages them, and tells them about her experiences at UAlbany. "I want to set an example that you can do it!" she concluded.


Charles FrederickCharles Frederick: He Experienced an "Incredible Revolution"
Charles Frederick says his life "has experienced an incredible revolution" at the University at Albany.

Frederick, 23, a member of the Class of 2007, graduates with a bachelor's degree in East Asian Studies and is going on to Pace University Law School.

"The best experience at UAlbany has been being able to interact with my professors. Jim Hargett and Susanna Fessler (both of East Asian Studies) have been a huge inspiration to me. You can tell they love what they do so much," said Frederick. Fessler calls Frederick "the most optimistic student I know."

Raised in a single parent family of five in Rockland County, Frederick never met his biological father, who was from Brazil. Money was tight. "I lived the bulk of my life at or below the poverty line with my two younger brothers, two younger sisters, and my mother," he said.

His family was evicted many times. "As a result, I turned to learning about distant and ancient cultures to escape my surroundings," he said. "The circumstances in which I started learning Japanese were dire. My family lost our home to a fire and we barely escaped it with our lives." That happened when Frederick was in the 10th grade.

Eventually, Charles and his family were living in a motel room with no cooking facilities. He slept on the floor.

"It was easily the lowest point of my life. I had no motivation for a long time after the fire, but then I took a class in conversational Japanese in high school. I loved it, and I wanted to learn everything I could about Japanese culture," he said.

A letter of recommendation from Frederick's high school Japanese teacher helped him get into the University at Albany, where he qualified for a scholarship from the Department of East Asian Studies.

At UAlbany, he won another scholarship for a summer seminar in Japan, where he toured Buddhist temples and Shinto shrines in Central Honshu. "I was thoroughly enraptured by the beauty of Japan's historical sites and buzzed by the commotion of its cities," Frederick said. He returned to Japan his third year in college to study at Kansai University of Foreign Languages, just outside of Osaka.

With a grade point average of 3.65, Frederick has kept academics front and center, and focused on a long-term goal of studying international law at Pace.

Frederick is graduating with his wife, Elizabeth "Liz" Frederick, who studied criminal justice and philosophy at UAlbany, and who will also be attending Pace University Law School.

They've known each other since they were 10, and were married the summer before Liz transferred to UAlbany from George Mason University in Virginia.

"Before I went to Japan, I proposed to her over Instant Messenger," said Frederick. The two have a bright future together.


Pam BuckPam Buck: A World Traveler Found Path to New Goal
Pam Buck, a former Ford model who speaks six languages fluently, and who has lived and worked around the world, can now claim yet another impressive distinction. She graduates with a perfect 4.0 as a member of the University at Albany's Class of 2007.

Buck, a commuting student, is getting ready to leave the Bennington, Vt., house she grew up in to move to North Carolina, where she will enter the Ph.D. program in clinical psychology at Duke University.

Buck, a single mother, says her 3-year-old twin daughters Scarlett and Isabella know the campus almost as well as she does. "They have met many of my professors," she said. (They turn 4 on May 25.)

The daughter of a businessman and former actress and teacher who have both passed away, Buck, 46, said she was raised in very positive home. "To my parents, anything was possible, you just have to do it," Buck said.

Buck's father was open to the idea of study abroad, and her parents allowed her to travel to Quebec at 13, Mexico at 14, Venezuela at 15, and France at 16. She began Spanish, French, Latin, and Portuguese before the age of 18, and added German, Arabic, Hebrew, Japanese, Mandarin, and Russian after that.

"I was a pianist and violinist as a child and there's definitely a relationship between natural ability in the two areas," she said.

Buck finished her first bachelor's degree at Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service and did graduate work at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies.

With a resume that reads like a novel, Buck danced with a company in Europe, acted in film, TV, and commercials, and had a record contract with two songs in the Top 20 in Europe. She lived and worked in Latin America. She was also director of the New York office of a non-profit AIDS prevention program for Sub-Saharan Africa.

Why did she return to school?

"I returned for my B.A. in psychology because my goal was to get into a doctoral program in clinical psychology and I needed a strong background in psychology to apply. Even while at Georgetown and Johns Hopkins many years ago studying international relations, I was always interested in bringing my analysis down to the individual level. Working for the international AIDS prevention program clarified for me that I was particularly interested in health psychology," Buck said.

Buck started at UAlbany in 2005.

"The best thing about my experience at Albany has undoubtedly been the opportunity to study with such tremendously interesting, brilliant, creative, and supportive faculty members, including my mentor, Dr. Sharon Danoff-Burg. They have changed my life, affected me deeply, opened my mind to new areas of thought, and guided me on my way toward my goal," said Buck.

Her long-term goal is to serve as an academic clinical psychologist in the area of health psychology.


Michael TylerMichael Tyler: He Strives to Do His Best and Heads for Medical School
Whether he is playing dodgeball with his intramural team, the two-time champion Border Patrol, doing volunteer work, or studying, Michael Tyler of Manhattan strives to do his best.

Already accepted by New York University Medical School — his first choice,  Tyler graduates from the University at Albany as a biology major with a 3.87 grade point average.

"I have always prided myself on my academics. I started off well here at Albany and I continued the trend all four years," said Tyler, who won a research award last year for his work in Bio 399.

A member of the Presidential Honors Society, and past member of Circle K, Tyler has volunteered in a food bank, soup kitchen, and nursing home.

Between sophomore and junior years at UAlbany, Tyler gained clinical experience at Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons through the Summer Medical Education Program.

That experience was a good way to test the waters, to see if a career in medicine would be a good fit. Last summer, he did a research internship at NYU Medical School.

"I've wanted to be a doctor since I could remember," he said. "I've always had an interest in the human body and how it works."

He's interested in pediatrics but is "open to anything. I always say when someone asks me that I will wait until I actually do rounds in med school to make a decision." Proof that he's good with children comes from his experience working at the 92nd Street Y summer day camps in New York for five summers before turning to summer internships. He will work there again one more time this summer.

There are no doctors in the family, but that has been no obstacle. "My mother has always been behind me in this prospective career. She's always been dying for me to be a doctor, and now I'm a step closer to making her proud!" he said. Since Day One, she expected him to bring home A+ in every subject. After getting straight A's his first semester, he had to explain to her that they don't give out A+ in college.

Things have gone pretty smoothly for Tyler. At the same time, he said, "I learned that it was important for me to find jobs and find ways to get money to support myself on day to day things. I've been active in jobs which was important because at one time during my college career unfortunately, neither of my parents were employed. Luckily, it didn't last too long, but it was a learning experience nonetheless."

Marc Carter, coordinator of the Collegiate Science & Technology Entry program (C-STEP), said, "Michael has been committed to helping others, and as a member of C-STEP, has been able to assist other underrepresented minorities as a peer mentor this year."

Tyler concluded, "I also want to add that I am thankful for all the help, assistance, and motivation that I have received from my girlfriend, my friends, staff, and faculty who have all been so supportive of me through the years."


Amina AyadAmina Ayad: An Intellectual Explorer Found Great Guides in Professors
Learning about cultures from around the world was important to Amina Ayad's family when she was growing up. Her family watched TV in other languages, and hosted so many visitors from other countries that Ayad jokingly referred to her home as "Hotel Ayad."

Some day she would like to work in the foreign service, be a diplomat, or work at the United Nations. As a child, "I always wanted to be in the place with all the flags," she says, referring to the United Nations.

At the University at Albany, Ayad found opportunities that are helping her pursue those dreams.

Ayad, a Class of 2007 graduate with a 3.99 at UAlbany, will focus on liberal studies and human rights when she enrolls at Columbia University this fall. She has a particular interest in conflict resolution and international justice.

"I am most passionate about studying women's issues and race relations, which is what most of my projects are about," says Ayad.

She speaks fluent Arabic, knows some Italian and French, and has started learning Turkish. An English major and a women's studies minor, Ayad was co-director of The Vagina Monologues in her sophomore year in a production that raised $15,000 for rape crisis shelters.

Ayad found the opportunities at UAlbany "phenomenal," and singled out for special praise the programs that students can create for themselves through independent study and the opportunity to be a Teaching Assistant (TA).

"I was able to teach FEM 101 through the Women's Studies Teaching Collective during 2005-2006," she says. In addition, she was a TA in Mary Kay Skrabalak's Freshman Experience course.

Opportunities such as these "are what make your University at Albany degree really special," says Ayad, who also choreographs hip hop and belly dancing.

"We have the most amazing professors here," says Ayad, adding that she has yet to meet a professor who has not gone out of his or her way for her. She cited Marjorie Pryse, dean of Graduate Studies, and English professors Mary Valentis and Thomas Bass as "outstanding."

An accomplished writer who performs her poetry, Ayad eventually plans to attend law school after completing her master's degree at Columbia.

Another reason for going to graduate school in New York City is Ayad's younger sister, Nadia, 16. "I am her role model and confidante. I told her that after two years of graduate school, I will apply for my law degree wherever she goes to school," Ayad says.

Who are Ayad's biggest supporters?

"My parents, as well as my professors and advisers," she says.

At UAlbany, Pryse and Bass in particular, "have gone out of their way to encourage me and help me develop the skills I need to graduate from here."

Her professors are equally enthusiastic about Ayad. "She's the kind of student whom we love to have in class," says Bass. "She's a great intellectual explorer. She also has a big heart."



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