Student Commencement Speakers Develop Into Successful Alumni

Students chosen to speak at the School of Business commencement ceremony not only excelled in class and extracurriculars, they triumphed professionally. Some, like Joe Patalano ’06 and Jason Ganns ’09, return to campus to recruit students. Read about nine recent alumni – accountants, a banker, an attorney, an entrepreneur and a management consultant – each of them owning their success.

Joseph Patalano ’06
Vice President, J.P. Morgan Corporate & Investment Bank • New York

Joe Patalano was the first student commencement speaker almost 10 years ago. He began his career with J.P. Morgan after interning with them. In 10 years he has added substantial responsibility and taken on new roles in a variety of divisions: Investment Banking Technology, Worldwide Securities Services, Fund Services & Alternative Investment Services. He now works in Global Fund Services as a product manager.

Patalano often returns to campus for homecoming, student recruiting and other events. As a student, he received the coveted SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence and the President’s Award for Undergraduate Leadership. Patalano was involved in the Division of Student Affairs, held the position as vice president of the UAlbany chapter of Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and was a member of the University Auxiliary Services Board of Directors.

Aleidy Diaz-Wells ’07, ’08
Audit, WeiserMazars • New York

Aleidy Diaz-Wells’ involvement in Beta Alpha Psi led her to audition for commencement speaker in 2007. She said that it was an honor to be chosen to speak to graduates the same year as her role model, accounting lecturer Michelle Moshier, who served as the faculty speaker.

After Diaz-Wells completed her M.S. in accounting information systems, she started work for Deloitte, with whom she had interned. After five years, looking for more opportunities to see different types of clients, she moved to midsize firm WeiserMazars.

The year that Diaz-Wells served as president of BAP, every School of Business club president was a woman, a feat that was unprecedented and has not been duplicated since. She mentored fellow students through Project Excel and worked on the Torch yearbook.

Mike Reynolds ’08
Co-founder and CEO, Cardinal Wind • Boston

Mike Reynolds spent four years at Goldman Sachs, leaving to earn an MBA at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he became intrigued by the energy sector. Last year Reynolds founded Cardinal Wind with a fellow MIT student. The company provides software to assess the financial risk and performance of wind energy projects. His company participated in MIT’s startup accelerator and is currently raising capital to bring the product to market.

While an undergrad, Reynolds worked with Matthew Alfieri ’08 and Vincent Cisternino ’08 to create the University at Albany Student Investment Group, which continues to thrive. He was involved in Delta Sigma Pi and received the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence. He is married to Amanda Lim Reynolds ’08, ’09, a senior auditor for Harvard University. The couple had their first child, a girl, in March.

Jason Ganns ’09
Advisory Director, KPMG • Albany

Jason Ganns took a different route than most accounting graduates. After growing up in Westchester County, he chose to stay in the Capital Region after college. He had interned at General Electric and started his career there as a financial analyst in the Corporate Health Care Accounting Group. After one year, he left for KPMG and hit the fast track, earning three promotions in four years. Through KPMG, he is working with the New York State Health Department on transforming Medicaid.

Ganns is a regular visitor to UAlbany, often jogging the campus loop. As a member of the KPMG UAlbany recruiting team, he moderated a panel at junior accounting orientation last fall and spoke to a cost accounting class.

Alexis (Imprescia) Constantinides ’10, ’11
Tax Senior, EY • New York

Alexis Constantinides has been EY all the way. She held internships with the firm in 2009 and 2010, and went to work for them in a staff position after completing an M.S. in tax in 2011. Now in her second year as a tax senior, she performs as a manager and interacts directly with clients. She also teaches various firm “Lunch and Learn” classes on topics ranging from “How to Calculate a Section 199 Deduction” to “How to be a Professional.”

Constantinides passed all sections of the CPA exam on the first try, including two she took during graduate school. While an undergrad, she held an office in Delta Sigma Pi every year, including a stint as president, and was one of the original Purple & Gold Student Ambassadors.

Abigail Karam ’11
Senior Audit Associate, PricewaterhouseCoopers • Denver

Abigail Karam did not plan to stay on the West Coast after she earned an M.S. in Accountancy from the University of Southern California. But PricewaterhouseCoopers, for which she had interned as an undergraduate at UAlbany, hired her for its Los Angeles office. After two years, she transferred to the PwC Denver office, where her fiancé had secured a position.

On campus, Karam was a member of the Presidential Honors Society and the University at Albany School of Business Investment Group.



Matt Russo ’12
J.D. Candidate, Class of 2015 at Michigan State University College of Law
Editor-In-Chief, Michigan State International Law Review • Michigan

Matt Russo always had an interest in law, but his plan crystallized only after he joined the accounting program. He finished his undergraduate degree in a rapid-fire three years and started at the Michigan State University College of Law, where he serves as the editor-in-chief of the law review. After graduation this spring, he will take the bar exam. A job is waiting for him at the International Tax Group at PricewaterhouseCoopers, through a University at Albany alumni connection.

At UAlbany, Russo served as co-president of the Presidential Honors Society and mentored high school students through the Young Entrepreneurs Academy hosted by the School of Business.

Frank Peluso ’13
Assurance Associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers • New York

For his first interview at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Frank Peluso was ushered into a room with 25 students from a variety of “name” schools, all vying for an internship. He was nervous after considering that this interview could affect the rest of his life. Students were asked to leave a resume. Nearly half did not have one. Peluso had 12 copies in his bag. It was then that he knew he would be fine. Peluso got the internship and then a position at PwC.

While earning a dual degree in accounting and business with a management/finance concentration, Peluso belonged to Albany Business Leaders Emerging, serving as president in his senior year. He also mentored students in the Young Entrepreneurs Academy, worked as a resident assistant and served as social chair of the Presidential Honors Society.

Ryan DeVoe ’14
Management Consultant
Business Analyst, Accenture • Philadelphia

Ryan DeVoe is the most recent commencement speaker, having taken the podium a little less than one year ago. Graduating with a dual degree in accounting and business with a concentration in the Financial Analyst Honors Program, he hit the ground running as he started his career at Accenture, for whom he regularly travels to Chicago, Baltimore and New York from his home base in Philadelphia. While in school he was a member and officer in the University at Albany School of Business Investment Group and worked for Residential Life as a residential assistant and a housing manager. DeVoe was team captain of the winning team at the KPMG International Case Competition at UAlbany and advanced to national semifinals.