Success After SUNY CCC
SUNY CCC alumni make a difference in every profession and every industry. They are leaders in classrooms and operating rooms, on construction sites and in design studios. If you know someone whose story should be told, please let us know. If you'd like us to tell your story, please give us a call or email us! In the meantime, we hope you enjoy the following stories.
When he graduated from Spencer-Van Etten High school in 1992, Anthony Alvernaz '95 already knew that he wanted to pursue a career in law enforcement. And that goal meant one thing to him: his next step would be heading to SUNY Corning Community College, the regional leader in training in criminal justice and law enforcement.
He has many fond memories of his time at CCC, and remembers the facilities from his time at the College, in which students could learn practical skills in realistic settings. He would enjoy the networking opportunities, meeting many retired Elmira officers who served as faculty at the College. Alongside what he learned in the classroom setting, Alvernaz also gained valuable work experience as a public safety officer for three years, helping to keep the Spencer Hill campus safe.
Dr. Robert Longwell-Grice ’75 grew up in Horseheads, NY. Like five of his eight siblings, he graduated from Corning Community College, forming the first generation of their family to attend and graduate from an institution of higher education. So would begin a career in education — and an educational journey — that spanned decades. That journey culminated in a doctorate in Educational and Counseling Psychology from the University of Louisville with research focused on first-generation college students.
Now retired from a 40-year career in student affairs, Rob joined forces with his wife, Dr. Hope Longwell-Grice, earlier this year to publish At the Intersection: Understanding and Supporting First-Generation Students.
Having first enrolled at SUNY Corning Community College in 1971, the Elmira-native found himself juggling multiple jobs and responsibilities as a college freshman. He was focused on his studies in Humanities & Social Sciences, but just as many people’s lives were interrupted, the infamous flood of 1972 threw a wrench into his plans. Just one year into his collegiate career, Skip recalls the decision to take a break from his studies.
“My teenage pretzel logic told me that I could make good money cleaning up after the flood vs. returning to SUNY CCC,” he says. And while he continued to save his money in hopes of returning to the classroom, he was drafted into the Army soon after—in fact, Skip recalls the exact day: November 16, 1972.
Bobette “Bobbie” March ’17, is a Sergeant in the Army Reserves, a recent Elmira College graduate and—of course—a SUNY Corning Community College alum.
Although she was already enrolled in the Reserves when she began her SUNY CCC journey, Bobbie’s aspirations have always pointed her towards the medical field. Originally enrolled in SUNY CCC’s nursing program, a few obstacles forced her to delay those plans– though the challenge was nothing Bobbie wasn’t capable of taking on.
“SUNY CCC helped me realize that failure is not the end of the road; it is what a person does after failure. We all have our journey, some make it to their goals and destinations sooner, but it does not make it less important,” she says.
She may not have known how, but even at a young age, Georgia Verdier knew she wanted to make a difference in the world.
“I practiced working [smarter], not [harder],” she recalls of her time in school “I concentrated on a journey that would provide me a seat at the policy tables so I could help plan the menus.”
Now President of the NAACP Elmira-Corning. Georgia says it was this same early mindset that she brought with her to Corning Community College. Despite already being a mother of two, she took the challenge of additionally balancing school head-on.
Troy M. Council III, ‘07, was nearly forty years old when he made the decision to go back to school and pursue a college degree.
“I had been out of school since the eighties,” Troy recalls. “I had to [either] catch up or quit. I didn’t want to quit.”
“Early on, I sat in the back and didn’t ask questions,” he says. “When we took exams, I was one of the first people to finish and [leave]. [I was] failing. [Eventually], I watched the people that got high scores and I saw they were the ones who sat up front and asked questions. I realized asking questions was the answer. There is nothing wrong with not knowing.”
In 2010 Samantha Olson ’15 was in Giza visiting the pyramids. As she rode through the city in an air-conditioned tour bus, she noticed a canal running alongside of her. Samantha’s eyes were drawn to a group of young children stripped from their clothes and playing in the filthy canal water for refuge from the intense heat. It was her first time witnessing true poverty and suffering.
It was also the moment Samantha knew she wanted to work in medicine.
Vince Mizzoni ’13 is a Graphic Designer for Corelle Brands in Corning, N.Y. Target is currently selling his gingerbread village and peppermints Christmas designs on Pyrex storage containers.
“Knowing that my designs are being sold across the country and being seen by millions of people is still surreal to me,” said Vince. “I’m glad I continued to push myself to get to this point.”
Renee Staffeld ’14 is working towards a career in Shelter Medicine at the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. She wants to give people the opportunity to own a pet despite financial circumstances.
“Human-animal bond is extremely important,” said Renee. “Not having a lot of money shouldn’t stop good families from owning a pet.”
By working in non-profit medicine, Renee will provide animal care to low-income families. This would also allow her the opportunity to perform animal-related relief work.
It was perfect timing. He entered the police academy and became a patrol officer. When the record-breaking low temperatures last winter began impacting the people in his community, it didn’t take long for Kenny to step up and help.
“A man came into the precinct to ask if we had any coats we were giving away,” said Kenny. “I told him to come back the next day and I would have a coat for him. I went home that night and grabbed one of my coats and gave it to him the next morning.”
She received her bachelor’s degree in apparel design from Buffalo State College in 2016 and is currently working in Revman International’s Bath Department. Revman International creates high fashion home furnishings products with a lifestyle twist. Their portfolio includes highly recognizable brands, such as Vera Wang, Nautica and Tommy Bahama.
For Susan, the best part about fashion is the lack of rules. She believes that once people start dressing in clothes they like, they will gain self-confidence as a result.
Eight years of college (That started at SUNY CCC). Six years of post-graduate training. Thousands of hours spent studying. Cutting-edge research projects.
Amy Spallone, M.D. ’08 has achieved her childhood dream of becoming a doctor. She is currently completing her postdoctoral training at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas.
Roeshawn Daniels ’16 loves being a Chemical Technician at Corning Incorporated. To Roeshawn, her job is a giant game of I-Spy. The answers are hidden all around her and it’s her job to find them.
The Corning, N.Y. native works in the SECTR [Surface Energetics, Chromatography, Thermal Analysis and Rheology] Lab and analyzes the samples that come in for Thermal Analysis, Surface Tension and Contact Angle.
When Casey Hale ’17 was eight years old, the SUNY Corning Community College Spencer Crest Nature and Research Center introduced her to different insects. A decade later, Spencer Crest helped solidify her love for bugs and her future career.
“I spent most of my childhood playing in the woods and catching bugs,” said Casey. “I knew I wanted to be an entomologist pretty early on. I started going to Spencer Crest to collect insects and learn more about them.”
That’s how Kelly Ormsby '13 describes the jewelry she makes for her business, Turquoise Terrapin.
Her inspiration, and overall theme for her business stems from a backpacking trip she took with Associate Professor David Rockwell '95 during her freshman year at SUNY Corning Community College.
Zach Dunbar ’13 is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Cancer Sciences Ph.D. program at the University at Buffalo. The Cancer Sciences Program is a hands-on partnership with Roswell Park Comprehensive Cancer Center.
Zach’s subfield is cancer prevention. His research is based on tobacco control, specifically the use of e-cigarettes. According to Zach, e-cigarettes are the most controversial tobacco product to enter the market in the past decade.
Growing up, Renée Wheeler ’05 wanted to be an entrepreneur. She loved the idea of success being a direct result of her own work ethic – a mindset she applies to her career today.
“Even as a kid I liked the idea of getting a job where my success depended on how hard I worked,” said Renée. “I’ve always been a motivated person and it was exciting to think that I could achieve my goals if I maintained a certain level of commitment.”
SUNY Corning Community College alumna Dr. Teresa Danforth ‘01 is working to get more women in the healthcare industry and improve the patient experience. For Teresa, those two things go hand-in-hand.
The Corning, N.Y. native is a practicing physician in Buffalo for UBMD Urology, primarily based at Buffalo General Medical Center. Her focus is female urology, where she takes care of patients with female urinary issues, those who have suffered strokes, have spinal cord injuries, and have Multiple Sclerosis.
Not many people sit at their kitchen tables until 11:00 p.m. grading papers and worrying about kids that aren’t biologically theirs. But teachers do.
Cindy Pierce ’86 loves being a seventh and eighth grade teacher at Livonia Middle School because she has the opportunity to help her students every day – not just with their math skills, but with their personal lives.
“As a teacher I try to be as patient and nurturing as possible, especially with this age group,” said Cindy. “The more the students see that I care, the more effort they will give me.”
When does someone begin to truly appreciate the learning process?
For Kristen Morse ’08, it started when she was a freshman at SUNY Corning Community College – a place she now considers home.
“I was an average student in high school and I really didn’t appreciate learning until I came to SUNY CCC,” said Kristen. “Once I got here, I excelled. I made the Dean’s List and had over a 3.6 GPA.”
Travis Winters ’06 invites artists from around the country to teach workshops at the Touchstone Center for Crafts- a residential craft school located in the Laurel Highlands area of Pennsylvania.
He recently invited Kensuke Yamada, an artist from Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan. Kensuke moved to the United States as a foreign exchange student and received his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Montana.
As the Senior Kiln Specialist at the #1 ranked ceramics school in the country, Shawn Murrey ’02, uses his talents to teach the ceramic process to his students. He serves as a Technical Specialist and an Adjunct Professor at Alfred University – one of his alma maters and the school he fell in love with on a field trip over 16 years ago.
In addition to teaching, he maintains an art practice in his studio at Alfred University. Shawn’s current project is a group of ceramic sculptures that are set to be displayed in a group exhibition at the Scarab Club Gallery in Detroit.
Cornelius "Pepsi" Lyon
Cornelius “Pepsi” Lyon ‘64 knows what it’s like to bridge the gap between wanting an education, and pursuing an education. After high school, he joined the United States Air Force and began a 1-year deployment in South Korea. While serving in South Korea, and later at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota, Cornelius realized he wanted to improve his reading skills when he returned home to Elmira, N.Y. He vowed that he would attend college one day, which led Cornelius to the newly established classrooms of Corning Community College.
LaMonte Orr ’18 never imagined chemistry could be fun … and then he accepted a position at Corning Incorporated. Today, he loves chemistry.
LaMonte is a Process/Lab Technician at Corning Incorporated and a part-time Adjunct Instructor at SUNY Corning Community College.
He works in Corning’s Diesel Facility where his role consists of experimental design, statistical analysis and reporting of experimental results, and material characterization.
When August Troccia sat in Anatomy and Physiology as an aspiring pharmacist at St. John Fisher, he felt confident and prepared. Moreso, he suspects, than many of his classmates who started at colleges other than SUNY Corning Community College.
“Many of them came from larger schools,” said August. “When they wanted to ask a question, there would be 100 students waiting in line to do the same thing. At Corning, I had a professor’s full attention. I didn’t have to worry about a line of students rushing the professor through my answer.”
It only took an hour after watching a magician perform a card trick for Erik Dobell ‘05 to learn a trick of his own. He doesn’t remember the exact card trick, but he does remember who exposed his technique, which only made him want to get better.
“After I mastered my first trick I began performing small magic tricks at bars in Ithaca, N.Y., and for my very patient friends,” said Erik. “My passion for magic hit me quick and hard.”
Brandi Smith-Moffe ’02 is the 2018 SUNY CCC Faculty Art Show guest alumna. Brandi grew up in Elmira, N.Y., and attended Elmira Free Academy.
Unsure of the career path she wanted to take after high school, Brandi chose SUNY CCC for the affordability and convenience. Though she had always loved art she never viewed it as a career, rather a hobby. She majored in Liberal Arts, but soon found herself inspired by Professor Dave Higgins’ art classes.
Joan Dugan Wilson
Joan Dugan Wilson did not plan on attending college. Probably marriage. Definitely work. As the saying goes, though … the best laid plans of mice and (wo)men often go awry. After a short stint working at Corning Community College, a counselor convinced her to enroll.
“I graduated with honors,” said Joan. “That degree changed my life.”
Dr. David G. Gardner
Dr. David G. Gardner ’67 has earned the 2017 Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing the many accomplishments he’s made to his profession.
David is the Mount Zion Health Fund Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Endocrinology and Chief of the Division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at the University of California at San Francisco. He serves as a mentor to post-doctoral fellows, junior faculty, research trainees, and is the mentoring facilitator for the division. David has published approximately 200 scientific articles, book chapters, and reviews and has co-edited five editions of the most widely used textbook in the study of endocrinology.
Jeff & Darrin King
It’s not easy being an entrepreneur. Sure, you don’t have a boss, but that means you have to be the boss. You have to be responsible … for everything. No task is too small or not worth your time. Initially you put in long hours, often with little financial reward, and you learn quickly the importance of customer service, or your reputation – and sales – will ultimately suffer. On the bright side, being an entrepreneur also means your values can influence the marketplace.
The Ann Marie Rossi ’76 award was established to recognize an employee who has shown commitment to CCC. Patricia (Patty) M. (O’Heron) Cordes ’74 has lived and breathed Corning Community College for 42 years.
Patty began her tenure with CCC as a work study student. When she transferred to Elmira College to complete her Bachelor’s degree, she continued to work on an hourly basis at CCC. Her full-time responsibilities evolved over the years, beginning with her service as the Accounts Payable Clerk and ending with her recent retirement as the Bursar. Patty’s love for students kept her on campus all hours of the day and night. She cherished the one-on-one meetings with students and parents and the opportunity to find financial resources for them.
Dr. Holly Young
Originally from the Corning area, Dr. Holly M. (Preston) Young earned an Associate’s degree in Math and Science from CCC in 1998 before pursuing a Marine Biology degree at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNCW). Upon earning her Bachelor’s from UNCW, she was awarded an internship at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) facility in Beaufort, NC.
She moved back to Corning after completing the internship at NOAA and worked as a research technician at Corning Incorporated. Holly was then offered a research assistant position at Harvard Medical School and lived in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for three years prior to attending graduate school at Penn State University in State College, Pennsylvania, where she earned a Master’s degree in Biology and a Doctorate in Kinesiology.
Roger Madigan believed he was walking into a “super high school” when he enrolled at Corning Community College in the mid-1960s. It took only a few weeks for that myth to be shattered.
“The faculty were – and I assume still are – tough,” said Roger. “In a few weeks, we knew we had a job to do and we would be held accountable.”
SUNY Corning Community College has a long tradition of launching some of tomorrow’s greatest minds. Eileen Collins ’76 went on to become a United States Air Force pilot and a NASA astronaut, logging more than 6,500 hours in 30 different types of aircrafts and making four trips into space.
Melissa A. (Dewey) Brumback was honored an award in the name of Eileen Collins, the Eileen M. Collins ’76 Professional Achievement Award, to honor her impressive professional achievements as a 2017 pioneering female alumna.
Nancy Williamson exudes energy. You are just as likely to find her under the dining room table playing the Big Bad Wolf with her grandsons as you are to catch her driving a check to a ServU Credit Union member’s home during a snowstorm because, as Nancy explained, “He needed it, and I had it.”
Her career at ServU started in 1973, when she entered the credit union to withdraw money to buy her parents an anniversary present. During a quick conversation with the teller, she was invited to interview for a part-time file clerk position. She secured that job and after graduating from Corning Community College and Elmira College, she had a choice to make.
Lori J. (Swift) Brockway has been one to watch for years. While in high school, she studied for a year in Mexico as a Rotary Exchange Student. In 2004, she joined the Navy where she completed a tour in the Persian Gulf (Operation Iraqi Freedom) as an Information System Technician in Network Security. She was awarded Sailor of the Quarter and Sailor of the Year honors.
After her enlistment, Lori returned to the area and attended CCC where she received an Associate’s degree in Liberal Arts in 2010. She was a participant in CCC’s Student Leadership Program. She continued her education at SUNY Brockport, majoring in International Relations. She interned at the United Association of Rochester (UNAR) and participated in a Winter Exchange in Europe.
Matt Cooper didn’t plan on going to college after high school like some of his friends. Instead, he taught himself a variety of technical skills and used that knowledge to establish a small web-development business. The business was going well, until the economic downfall of 2008.
After the financial crisis hit the United States, Matt and his wife, Cyndie, decided that he should take the next step in furthering his education.
Emily Doppel ’15 knows what it’s like to be pulled in multiple directions. In high school, she worked a series of part-time jobs and went to school. Although she graduated from high school with excellent grades and in the top 10 percent of her class, she wanted to focus completely on academics in college. Receiving the Presidential Scholarship allowed her to do this.
“The scholarship removed a lot of stress,” said Emily. “I hear my friends talk about the massive debt they have, and I am thankful that I avoided that. I also feel more prepared than many of my peers who couldn’t focus completely on schoolwork. I had the time to focus completely on the assignments and making the most of my college courses.”