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FYI > Alumni Testimonials

Name: Danny Wild (FYI 2002-03)

Danny Wild

Major: Journalism

Career Highlight: Reporter/Editor/Photographer for Major League Baseball's website

(http://mlb.mlb.com/search/?query=danny+wild&c_id=mlb)

Quote: "I'm pretty much doing exactly what I wanted – getting paid to watch baseball!"

1. Where are you now?
I was in FYI in 2002, became an RM (FYI Resident Mentor) in 2003-04 for the program and was an RA (Resident Assistant) in Esopus Hall in 2004-05 and 2005-06, until I graduated in May '06. I currently work as a reporter, editor and photographer for Major League Baseball's website, MLB.com, in Manhattan, primarily covering the Minors and top prospects in baseball for MLB.com and MiLB.com. I also volunteer as a photographer for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and have worked freelance as a reporter and photographer for the Poughkeepsie Journal and CBS Sports/MaxPreps.com. I'm pretty much doing exactly what I wanted – getting paid to watch baseball.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
I think it helped me get comfortable around new people and that led to me being an RM and eventually an RA, a leadership position which is something I never envisioned happening coming out of high school. FYI, and probably college in general, helped prepare me for interacting with new groups of people and coworkers.

Primarily it helped me adjust over the course of my freshman year in regards to finding new friends and feeling comfortable on campus and in the new environment. Many of my close friends throughout college and after were people I met in FYI in Esopus Hall; some have gotten married and moved away; many of us are still in contact.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
Time spent with friends on my floor, probably, whether it was just taking the hike through the snow (or over the frozen pond) to Hasbrouck or just hanging out in Esopus. To be honest, one of the funniest memories of that year was when a few of us built this giant potato cannon out of a big PVC pipe and shot vegetables we swiped from Hasbrouck at squads of geese or the pond or, if we really got a good shot off, at Deyo. One of the guys who lived next to me was in the Army and he knew how to build the thing, it was unreal. Stuff like watching movies or stupid pranks, going to Minnewaska or the Food Drive at Shop Rite were moments you remember.

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
I think it's an easy way to meet friends and start relationships with new people in a similar position as long as you don't lock yourself in your room all day. It's up to the student to take advantage of the resources and people available to them. For those considering it – it's a unique program that can help first-year students quickly adjust and embrace the college lifestyle; everyone is looking to make new connections and meet new people and find that comfort zone, find a place they feel they belong, and the program encourages that with the room setup and activities and events designed to be inclusive and educational. If anything, it's a great way to make lasting friendships. Esopus being one of the two newest halls and clean and air-conditioned was a pretty big reason for me to want to stay there throughout my four years at New Paltz – it was a very comfortable place to live and I actually still miss it.

 


Name: Carolynn E. Carneiro (FYI 2007 - 08)

Major: Communication Disorders with a Minor in Deaf Studies
Career Highlight: Graduate Student at Nazareth College
Quote: "The FYI program opened many doors that I did not know were available to me as a student on campus."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
Currently, I am a first year graduate student at Nazareth College, studying Speech-Language Pathology. For five semesters I was a resident assistant in Gage Hall. I was also the President of the SUNY New Paltz Chapter of Up 'til Dawn in support of St. Jude Children's Hospital. I was first introduced into this organization in my freshman year while in the FYI program and took on a general member role and the role of Vice President in my sophomore and junior year. FYI also helped me to get involved in Emerging Leaders in my freshman year and be an active member in Esopus's Hall Government, where I help positions as treasurer and vice president.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
The FYI program opened many doors that I did not know were available to me as a student on campus. Because I was living in a residences hall with many other first-years, a lot of the programming and on-campus information was directed towards my freshman status. From the program, I learned about several leadership opportunities and how to pursue my goals in order to hold the positions that I received.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My favorite part of the FYI program was living with those who were of the same year as me. It is very intimidating coming into college and not knowing anyone around you; however, this program placed everyone "in the same boat" and made it easier to acclimate to my new settings. I made great friends, some of which I consider my best friends to this day!

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
I strongly suggest this program for those of you who are looking to take on leadership roles/opportunities, whether or not you feel nervous about leaving home for the first time. FYI opened my eyes to the world or college and what I wanted to get out of it.

 


Name: Paul Kohler (FYI 2006-07)

Major: Marketing
Career Highlight: Freshman Admissions Counselor at Marymount Manhattan College
Quote: "FYI played a huge role in not only shaping my overall college experience, but also contributed to me becoming the person I am today."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
I am currently working as a Freshman Admissions Counselor at Marymount Manhattan College in New York City. As an undergraduate student at New Paltz I took on numerous student leadership positions including Resident Assistant, Orientation Leader, and Student Ambassador. It was my work as a student ambassador that sparked my interest in college admissions. When interviewing for the job here at Marymount they were particularly impressed with my experience, and it gave me the edge I needed to get hired.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
FYI played a huge role in not only shaping my overall college experience, but also contributed to me becoming the person I am today. FYI taught me about leadership, and what it means to make a difference in your college community. It helped me build confidence in myself, and ultimately provided me with the tools and support I needed to gain the student leadership positions I held while at New Paltz.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
When looking back at my New Paltz experience, many of my fondest memories occurred during my freshman year while in the FYI program. If I had to narrow it down to one, it would have to be spending time with my RM, Monica. She was not only a source of support for me academically, but was always a friend to listen whenever I needed. She never made me feel as though she was an authority figure, but rather a big sister whom I could go to with any questions or concerns I had being away for the first time.

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
While I will say that the FYI program is not for everyone, I will say that everyone has a place there. Some students enjoy the academic support it provides, some the social aspect and other just want to be around people who are all in the same boat starting out their freshman year. The benefits of the program are endless, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants their experience as a first year student to be a positive one.

 


Name: Jessie Ostrow (FYI 2006-07)

Jessie OstrowMajor: Interpersonal/ Intercultural Communication & Spanish, Minor: Linguistics
Career Highlight: Academic Advisor at Yeshiva University
Quote: "I believe FYI assisted me in growing both personally and professionally, and provided a strong foundation for a well-rounded college career.

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
I am currently an Academic Advisor at Yeshiva University. I received by Master of Arts in Higher and Postsecondary Education at Teachers College, Columbia University. My passion for higher education stemmed from my active involvement in the FYI program at SUNY New Paltz, which led me to become a Student Activities Manager, Resident Assistant, Senior/Orientation Leader-Peer Mentor, and Secretary/Vice President/President of the Residence Hall Student Association. Through the FYI program, I became passionate about supporting students outside of the classroom to succeed inside the classroom and beyond, which has inspired me to pursue a career in college administration.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
I believe FYI assisted me in growing both personally and professionally, and provided a strong foundation for a well-rounded college career. I matured personally, as I was immersed in an intellectually stimulating environment, which nourished the development of ideas about myself and about society and led me to further establish life-long goals. Furthermore, the Esopus Hall community cultivated long-lasting and meaningful friendships and mentoring relationships, which assisted me in growing as an individual. Professionally, FYI helped me adjust to my classes, and encouraged me to take advantage of resources that would help me maximize my potential in the classroom and in my future career. By attending programs such as "Pizza with the President" and "Resume Makeover" I networked with college administrators and learned about how my education at SUNY New Paltz would benefit me after graduation. In addition, the FYI program contributed to the person I am today by blending in and out of classroom experiences through service learning. This component of my educational experience was significant because it connected theory to practice and provided me with a meaningful learning experience.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My fondest memories of FYI are the late night study sessions in the Esopus Hall study lounges. Residents would often gather in the lounges to complete assignments and read for classes. As the night progressed, and we felt like we accomplished a considerable amount of work, our study sessions would evolve into a hang-out sessions! It was really nice to get to know other residents, and in addition to connecting on a deeper level and enjoying new friendships, these relationships helped us work better together and support each other academically. I also enjoyed participating in Spirit Day, because it was the first time I truly felt proud to be a SUNY New Paltz student and Esopus Hall resident and I was excited to cheer for my hall and participate in the events!

 


Name: Diana Bodolato (FYI 2007-08)

Diana BodolatoMajor: Industrial/Organizational Psychology with a Minor in Communication
Career Highlight: Associate Employee Relations Specialist at the New York Power Authority
Quote: "FYI provided me with the opportunity to feel comfortable being myself while growing into my ability to change lives as a leader."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
I am currently an Associate Employee Relations Specialist at New York Power Authority. I was a Resident Assistant in DuBois Hall and worked as a Student Ambassador. FYI gave me the leadership training and experience that is needed to thrive in my leadership positions. I was also a Resident Mentor with FYI for two years. This was an unbelievable experience. I connected with residents in a way that allowed me to understand the impact of listening, communicating, and being a role model.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
FYI provided me with the opportunity to feel comfortable being myself while growing into my ability to change lives as a leader. Role models in the program such as Kristen Hurley (Resident Director) and older staff members truly helped shape who I am today. I learned valuable lessons and how to communicate effectively. My experience with FYI was my stepping stone to life as a Resident Assistant and my role as a valuable member of our society.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My favorite part of FYI is its unique community. I always felt that I could be myself. Individuality is celebrated. I made friendships that I will have far beyond my time at New Paltz. FYI also provided me the chance to network with members of administration such as Robin Cohen-La Valle (Associate Dean of Students) and Linda Eaton (Dean of Students).

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
If you are considering joining FYI, do your research. Ask multiple students about their experience with FYI. Everyone has their own unique experience. For me, FYI was my launching pad to many leadership positions on this campus. Through my leadership experiences, I am confident that I will be successful in the professional world.

 


Name: Matthew Stracquodaine (FYI 2007-08)

Matthew StracquodaineMajor: Bachelor's of Fine Arts in Ceramics, Bachelor's of Science in Art Education
Career Highlight: Student Teaching
Quote: "Being that I associated with so many successful, driven student leaders, I was encouraged to also apply myself and grow professionally to find success at New Paltz."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
After my experience as a member of FYI, and my position as Resident Mentor for the Fall 2008-Spring 2009 academic year I was hired as an RA in Lenape Hall starting in the Fall of 2009. Involvement in FYI has enabled me to realize my goal of getting involved on campus.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
Since before my enrollment at SUNY New Paltz my home and school life had been that of a strong community. Thanks to the FYI program, I was able to continue and thrive in a community of future-leaders that FYI and the staff provided. Being that I associated with so many successful, driven student leaders, I was encouraged to also apply myself and grow professionally to find success at New Paltz.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My favorite part of FYI was that by and large the students and staff were like minded in their pursuit of academic success and involvement on campus. This made it a reality in my mind that if I applied myself as my peers had I could achieve what I set out to do.

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
FYI is a positive, optimistic community that encourages success in your first year and is likely to set one's outlook for how they interact with others at SUNY New Paltz. If you are interested in living and working with like minded students in pursuit of all that New Paltz has to offer, then consider joining the FYI program. With a little work, genuine effort and a dose of self-motivation, FYI can be a place to ensure one makes the most out of their college experience!

 


Name: Briana Spillman (FYI 2004-05)

Major: Childhood Education 1-6/Social Studies
Career Highlight: Substitute Elementary Teacher
Quote: "My fondest memory of FYI was meeting people who would become lifelong friends."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
In August of 2010 I graduated with my Master's degree from New Paltz in Literacy Education B-6. While attending New Paltz as an undergraduate, I was in FYI, then was a Resident Mentor for the FYI program and then became a Resident Assistant in Bevier Hall.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
FYI provided me with a support system my first year of college which I will always be grateful for. The program gave me the confidence to pursue student leadership on campus and allowed me to participate in a lot of great programs that shaped the person I am today.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My fondest memory of FYI was meeting people who would become lifelong friends.

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
FYI is a great program for students looking to meet fellow college freshmen and are interested in getting involved in their campus as well as their community.

 


Name: Tiffany French (FYI 2006-07)

Major: History with a minor in Communication
Career Highlight: Resident Director at Adelphi University
Quote: "It really helped me value new beginnings. I also enjoyed starting the FYI Magazine (The College Initiative), I got to interact with people I might not have normally had the chance to interact with, and became close with Professors Fakler and Perisse, with whom I still keep in touch!"

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
I'm currently a Resident Director at Adelphi University. I took courses in Educational Administration and Policy Studies with a concentration in Higher Education when I first left New Paltz when I had my first job in banking. FYI gave me invaluable networking opportunities, and I met and became closer with people who became my mentors and life-long friends. Additionally, it allows the student to choose their level of involvement within the hall, and greater campus community. I was very comfortable getting involved, and had support as I pursued Resident Mentor and Resident Assistant positions.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
It really helped me value new beginnings. It was nice to know that as I was transitioning to college life, the people around me were going through similar things.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
I enjoyed starting the FYI magazine, I got to interact with people I might not have normally had the chance to interact with, and became close with Professors Fakler and Perisse, with whom I still keep in touch!

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
It's a great opportunity for students who are interested in being involved within their hall, as well as the campus community and network with peers and professionals that they will know for the next four years!

 


Name: Kevin O'Donnell (FYI 2004-05)

Kevin O'DonnellMajor: Elementary Education with a Concentration in English
Career Highlight: Third-Grade Teacher
Quote:"I don't think I would have had the same experience in college without the FYI program, for it helped me get on the right track with courses as well as being acquainted with the campus. The friends I made in the first year are among my best friends now."

1. Where are you now?
I am currently in a third-grade class teaching every day. I also started classes this week which will help me get my Special Education Certificate. While I was in school, I became an Orientation Leader as well as a Resident Assistant.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
The FYI program helped me find two things: my way through college, and great friendships. I don't think I would have had the same experience in college without the FYI program, for it helped me get on the right track with courses as well as being acquainted with the campus. The friends I made in the first year are among my best friends now.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
Looking back, I actually really enjoyed the programs the staff put on, whether they were educational or recreational purposes. They helped me with the wide world of college and also brought me closer to those friendships.

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
If you're thinking about joining the FYI program, go for it. I wouldn't have wanted it any other way and it was very much worth it.

 


Name: Matt Vitale (FYI 04-05)

Major: Business Administration/Marketing; Minor: Spanish
Career Highlight: Media Buyer for Alloy Media+Marketing
Quote: "You will enter a community that will immediately become your new family away from home, and will be living side-by-side with people who are going through the same things as you, and will be able to experience them all together."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
Currently I work as a media buyer for Alloy Media+Marketing. (www.alloymarketing.com)
I believe that the numerous leadership positions I held while attending SUNY New Paltz have aided me in obtaining my first job. I worked as a Resident Assistant, Community Development Assistant and Student Ambassador while at New Paltz. I believe that those roles have helped me to become the person I am today. They greatly aided me in my interview skills as well as helped me to gain experience working on a team.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
The FYI program helped me become the person I am today in a couple ways. First, if it were not for the FYI experience I had and the relationship I had with my Resident Mentor, I do not believe I would have pursued the leadership path that I took. Secondly, being in a program that fosters first year development, I was able to have experiences I don't think I would have had if it were not for the FYI program.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My fondest memories of FYI have to be my circle of friends. We had a group of about 10 or so friends who were simply inseparable. We did everything together and was a blast. Post-FYI, once I embarked on my leadership path, we continued to be great friends. FYI truly helped to forge amazing friendships that were strong throughout our/my college years!

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
This is a great program to get you acquainted with the SUNY New Paltz community. This program is set up to foster long-term friendships, and that you will. The program will really help you to enjoy your first year to its fullest. You will be able to attend programs and events that you may otherwise not have been able to. You will enter a community that will immediately become your new family away from home, and will be living side-by-side with people who are going through the same things as you, and will be able to experience them all together.

 


Name: Tara Sestanovich (FYI 2004-05)

Major: Communications: Media Management
Career Highlight: Coordinator of First-Year Programming at SUNY New Paltz
Quote: "FYI provided me with the opportunity to explore my interests; I was able to make connections, develop leadership skills and also gain a mentor."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
I graduated from SUNY New Paltz in May 2008 and began working at New Paltz as the Coordinator of First-Year Programming in the Center for Student Development in October 2008. As an undergraduate student I was a Hall Government representative, the Public Relations Officer for the Residence Hall Student Association for two years, a member of the National Residence Hall Honorary, a Resident Assistant, a New Paltz Blogger and had an internship in the Office of Public Affairs.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
FYI provided me with the opportunity to explore my interests; I was able to make connections, develop leadership skills and also gain a mentor. These experiences helped contribute to the person I am today.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My fondest memory of FYI was creating long-lasting friendships with residents in my hall.

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
FYI is an enjoyable program that will help with the transition of becoming a college student. It offers opportunities to work closely with professors and your classmates and it's a jump-start to becoming involved on campus.

 


Name: Zuri Regisford (FYI 2006-07)

Major: Public Relations, Media Management
Career Highlight: Law School
Quote: "There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining this program."

1. Where are you now in your studies/career?
After and while participating in FYI I became very involved on campus. I became a Resident Assistant, PCA, Student Ambassador, member of the Campus Judicial Committee, NRHH member and VP, and Up 'til Dawn member and eventually President. FYI not only showed me the opportunities available on campus but also provided me with the support and encouragement to pursue positions is organizations mentioned.

2. How has the FYI program contributed to the person you are today?
FYI encouraged me to get involved on campus whether through organizations or just being an active member in my community. Through meeting new people and becoming involved in my community and leadership roles on campus I was able to learn a lot about myself as well as strengthen my weaknesses. It allowed me to meet great people that I most likely would not have met or gotten to know had it not been for this program.

3. What was your favorite part/fondest memory of FYI?
My fondest memories are of hiking at Mohonk Mountain and my very first spirit day!

4. Do you have any advice for those who are considering being part of the FYI program?
I am sure all the other testimonials say it was a great experience. It was! Others may tell you that you don't NEED to be in the program. Those people may be right, it's not a necessity but it is definitely a great advantage. FYI provides and fosters a comforting and welcoming environment for first year students. If you are a social butterfly or the shyest person known to mankind, FYI is perfect for you! This is a program that you can tailor to your needs. Resident Mentors are a great resource for students whether academically or socially. There is nothing to lose and everything to gain by joining this program.