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Life of Challenges Spurs Rockefeller Grad to Academic Achievement, Prestigious Senate Fellowship

UAlbany student Aaron Gladd and New York State Senator Tom Libous

Aaron Gladd, left, gained valuable legislative experience working as a New York State Senate Fellow in the office of Senator Tom Libous, right.

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ALBANY, N.Y. (December 02, 2010) --

When Aaron Gladd walks across the stage at the University at Albany's Winter Commencement Ceremony at SEFCU Arena, it will be the culmination of a long journey marked by hardship and determination. Gladd faced a difficult home life growing up. As a teen he tried to make it on his own because he didn't want to drain the family's limited resources. Sometimes he'd live at a friend's house, while at others his car was his home.

Through it all, Gladd never lost sight of his desire to go to college, get a degree and build a career where he could help others. Gladd earned his high school diploma while working full time, eventually coming to UAlbany where he earned a bachelor's degree in 2008.

The Saranac Lake, N.Y. native returned to UAlbany for graduate study at the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs an Policy. On Sunday, Dec. 5, he will earn his master's degree in public administration. Among his accolades, Gladd was named a New York State Senate Fellow -- a title generally reserved for those who have already earned an MPA or law degree -- while working in the office of Senator Tom Libous of Binghamton.

UAlbany student Aaron Gladd

UAlbany graduate Aaron Gladd, BA '08, MPA '10

Among his duties as Fellow, Gladd managed the Albany office of Senator Libous, including conducting research on bills, helping to draft legislation, writing sponsor memos, and examining parliamentary procedure.

 "If you know parliamentary procedure you can control the agenda," said Gladd. "You can control a bill's movement. You can control what gets done."

Gladd previously gained valuable policymaking experience while working for former Congressman Mike McNulty in Washington, D.C. Gladd also notes the faculty at Rockefeller College who brought practical experience to classroom instruction.  The training helped prepare him for his assignment in the Senate.

"I've had some great professors with really impressive credentials like Bob McEvoy and Bob Purtell," said Gladd, who credits the relationships he developed with faculty and staff as instrumental in helping him land the Senate Fellowship. "Professor McEvoy's recommendation and his picking up the phone and calling were crucial. I wouldn't have been able to get the Senate Fellowship without Rockefeller College."

When Gladd finished his term as Senate Fellow in June, his success earned him the opportunity to serve as Coordinator for the Senate Republicans, where he worked full-time while finishing his degree.

Gladd's next step is also now clear -- having turning away law schools and government jobs in favor of pursuing a commission as an officer in the U.S. Army. "My intention is to become an Infantry Officer for a couple of years - then maybe go back to school," said Gladd. "I'm still waiting on the final acceptance into Officer Candidate School, but I'll likely be leaving pretty soon for it."

Gladd has dedicated himself to a career of service, including advancing welfare reform and reducing poverty. Most importantly, whatever his future holds he knows he wants to assist others in need.

"Aaron is always the first one to volunteer; he's always the first one to help," says Director of Admissions and Assistant to the Chair of the Department of Public Administration and Policy Kara Pangburn.  "He will always think of other people who need government to intervene on their behalf."

Like his idol -- former U.S. Senator from New York and U.S. Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy -- Gladd is idealistic about public service. "It just takes one person to make a change," he said.

The University at Albany will confer 561 bachelor's degrees and 434 graduate degrees, including 285 master's and 69 doctoral degrees, at its Winter Commencement at 1 p.m. UAlbany alumnus Theodore C. Anderson III, Esq. '82, managing partner of Kilgore & Kilgore PLLC, one of the oldest law firms in Dallas, Texas, will deliver the keynote address to graduates and their families.

The undergraduate commencement class hails from the U.S. and 16 foreign countries, including Japan, China, Israel, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Fifty percent of the graduates are women. The class includes ten military veterans. The youngest graduate is age 20, while the oldest is 61. Psychology, sociology, and English are the top majors for undergraduate degree candidates in 2010. The graduating class will become part of the global network of more than 151,000 living alumni.

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