Alumni Spotlight: Leah McCarthy '19
Get involved. It’s advice students receive at just about every level of education. For some, that recommendation goes in one ear and out the other, but not for Leah McCarthy ’19.
As a first-year student in Spring of 2017, Leah was your typical commuter student. She traveled from her home in Millport, New York, to SUNY Corning Community College for class, and once class ended, she was back in her vehicle to head home. This was a new endeavor for Leah, who was homeschooled prior to her arrival to CCC. However, with the guidance of the CCC faculty, an array of opportunities would soon present itself for Leah to grow.
During her time on Spencer Hill, Leah jumped into an array of activities and leadership roles. She was the Public Relations Director for the student government, Editor-in-Chief of CCC’s student-run newspaper The Crier, a writing tutor, taught at the CCC Learning Commons, and worked collaboratively with faculty and staff members on Corning’s ‘Every Story Counts’ campus-wide media project. Those experiences helped Leah make new friends and find a path to her professional field in public relations and communications.
“I loved CCC because of the small class sizes and because of the professors,” said Leah. “The professors are what make CCC, CCC – they are the hidden gem. They took me under their wing and showed me so many different opportunities that I didn’t even know existed. I got involved in so many things because a professor introduced me to it or recommended it to me.”
Involvement Leads to Experience
Leah credits her time working as the editor-in-chief of The Crier as the most influential experiences of her time at CCC. When she started with The Crier, there was only a staff of three, but Leah grew the staff to 15 by adding new and exciting positions.
“Not only was I getting experience with professional writing and editing, and working with print and media shops, which are all of the things I do in my professional career today, but I was working in a leadership role and managing working with many other people,” added Leah. “Working with the newspaper has definitely been very impactful for me personally and professionally.”
Another vital experience for Leah was her time spent in Associate Professor Dan Coble’s English 1010 class. In class, students were challenged to engage in group discussions regarding world-related news that the professor presented. Students, like Leah, were encouraged to share their thoughts on the topic, do their own independent research, and then defend their position on the topic in class.
“It was really fascinating to hear other people’s perspectives, even if I don’t agree with them,” said Leah. “It helped shape how I think every single day when I learn something new. Rather than shutting it out completely, I am very open to learning and understanding, and I’ve learned so many things because of it.”
Involved with so many media-related activities, Leah worked closely with her advisors at CCC to ensure all of her credits would transfer to a degree in public relations. Her due diligence was rewarded, as she went on to obtain a bachelor’s degree from neighboring Mansfield University in 2021.
Leah wears many hats in the professional world. She is an Integrated Digital Specialist for WETM-TV News in Elmira, New York, a communications manager for the New Covenant Academy in Mansfield, Pennsylvania, and is a freelance publicist and digital creator. She possesses a wide array of talents that include professional writing, photography, videography, graphic design, and video editing, along with public relations.
So, what advice does Leah have for aspiring communication professionals? The key is networking.
“Networking is a huge part of the career itself,” stated Leah. “So if anyone was interested in pursuing a career in communications or public relations, I would say that everyone you meet is a networking opportunity for your professional career. So, always maintaining that public image is very important.”
And what advice does she give to those at SUNY Corning? It all goes back to where it started – get involved.
“I recommend CCC because it was such a great and positive experience for me,” stated Leah. “I made so many new friends and I was involved in so many clubs, so students should definitely get involved – I am who I am today because I went to CCC.”
Leah McCarthy found her career path at SUNY Corning Community College through leadership roles and building relationships. Find your path by enrolling at CCC to start your educational journey.