Liberal Arts in Action
Communication

Amanda Gresens Rogers ’08 (Speech Communication)

Amanda RogersMedia Associate

My position at Mohonk Preserve is Media Associate. I am a part of a two-woman marketing and communications team. The best aspect about my degree in communication is that it prepared me to work across a variety of fields, and allowed me to choose the industry that I am interested in. I get to pursue a variety of subjects and interests with this flexible and adaptable background. Since graduating in 2008, it was my dream to work in environmental nonprofits. My degree has allowed me to do just that! My studies at New Paltz also introduced me to the surrounding area and the wonders of the Shawangunk Ridge. As a student I fell in love with the area, and am glad to devote my work to protect the land and inspire others to do the same.

My liberal arts education has allowed me to easily adapt from craft beer, to publishing, to nonprofits, and environmental organizations. Liberal arts means that we have the opportunity to learn a variety of subjects and become a more well-rounded individual who is an attractive candidate in the job market. In my past and current positions, it has been very helpful to have a basic understanding of biology and earth sciences, education, business, culture and diversity, history, social sciences, organizational communication, writing and rhetoric. I'm able to pull from what I have learned from a liberal arts education in the workplace every day!

The entire Communication Department is an incredible resource filled with amazing professors and instructors who really care about their students. Mary Kahl, who is no longer at SUNY New Paltz, fostered my interests in communication and rhetoric. Jason Wrench in the Communication Department also encouraged me to take my own interests and apply course material to those real-world areas. Both Mary and Jason were supportive and encouraging in my graduate school pursuits. Anne Godding is an amazing inspiration in encouraging her students to relate to a variety of people from diverse backgrounds and cultures.

September 2017


Amanda Ruschak ’15 (Communication – Public Relations)

Amanda RuschakTalent Acquisition Coordinator

I am currently a Talent Acquisition Coordinator in the Human Resources Department of a nonprofit healthcare company, Geisinger Health System. I work in recruitment with candidates for positions in Population Health, and oversee their onboarding and ensure equal employment opportunity guidelines are present in all aspects of my work.

Working for nonprofits tied to social issues was something I discovered my passion for while at New Paltz, and a path that I have been lucky enough to stay on since my graduation. In my course with Dr. Donna Flayhan, “Advanced Public Relations,” I worked with the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Ulster County and used their initiative, Live Well Kingston, as my practice publications campaign. This, along with my internship with the New York Public Interest Research Group, were kickstarters to my career in nonprofit work. The connections I made while working on these projects enabled me to get an internship with the Kingston Land Trust, which turned into a side job in social media blogging, as well as a full time job with NYPIRG as a Community Outreach Director.

In 2016, while pursing my master’s degree in the United Kingdom, I used the passion I gained for media ethics during my communication studies at New Paltz and got a position with the UK lobby group Hacked Off: Campaign for Accountable Press. Hacked Off works with victims of the 2011 News of the World Hacking Scandal during and following the Leveson Inquiry. I met press abuse victims turned activists such as Paul Dadge, Hugh Grant and the parents of Milly Dowler, which was life-changing. I drew from my rich experiences at New Paltz, and took them to British Parliament to participate with Hacked Off in a lobby session with members of the House of Commons and House of Lords.

In my career, having a liberal arts education has enabled me to have a rich body of experiences and knowledge that are compatible with so many different types of work. My education has truly been my greatest tool toward my career path. Having an understanding of social science, but also of the practical applications of public relations campaign work, has helped me carve a unique space that bridges the worlds of work and academia, and makes them intertwined in everything I do.

With regard to my life, my liberal arts education has been an integral part of my passion for social science research and academia. I truly cannot imagine my life without having taken my first sociology course as a general education requirement. With the rigor that I experienced studying communication studies and sociology and the cross disciplinary nature of a liberal arts setting, I was able to put this knowledge to work and take the year of 2016 to pursue my master’s degree in Political Communications at Goldsmiths University of London in the United Kingdom.

My liberal arts education has opened up limitless possibilities toward my next step in life because it truly made me see the world with new eyes. I realized that you could weave social science and its practical applications into any aspect of your career path.

There were a few faculty members at SUNY New Paltz that helped to nurture me as a student toward my career path. Dr. Donna Flayhan was my academic advisor while at SUNY New Paltz. Her work with the Lower Manhattan Health Project, a public health campaign for the healthcare of first responders to the 9/11 terror attacks, was the first time I witnessed my academic major in action making social change in the world. She constantly linked social issues to what we were learning, and made me realize the possibilities that were in store for me as a socially-minded person. I adored every class that I took with her (Advanced Public Relations, Public Relations Publications, Media Ethics).

Dr. Peter Kauffman in the Sociology Department is a professor that embedded a mantra in me that I still use to this day. In his pedagogy, he always noted that as a student you cannot just study sociology, but you have to be actively "doing sociology,” or putting the knowledge to use to make a change in the world. Whether it was being more mindful in our interactions with others (as I learned in his course “Social Interaction”), or working to combat the results of institutional inequalities, her set me on a path that allowed for me to find responsibility and purpose in my studies.

Eric Wood, Project Coordinator with the New York Public Interest Research Group SUNY New Paltz Chapter, is such a valuable resource for students at SUNY New Paltz who want to make the bridge from academics to activism. He enabled me to work on several different campaigns that worked to address issues such as higher education funding, environmental protection and consumer protections while an Intern with NYPIRG. He taught me how to be an effective community organizer, and activated me politically and socially. The skills I gained under him have enabled me to be a campaigner and fight for the issues I am passionate about, and I am truly thankful for his faith in me.

August 2017


Christine DeBiase ‘90 (Communication)

Christine DeBiaseGeneral Counsel and Corporate Secretary, Brighthouse Financial 

I am currently the General Counsel and Corporate Secretary of Brighthouse Financial, a major provider of annuity and life insurance solutions in the United States. Brighthouse Financial was established by MetLife in 2016. In this role, I am responsible for legal affairs and corporate governance, as well as the company’s compliance, communications and government relations functions. Prior to this role, I held a number of leadership positions at MetLife over the course of 20 years, including lead counsel to MetLife’s U.S. Retail business, corporate secretary and associate general counsel. 

I believe that my experience at New Paltz helped get me to where I am today. My coursework in communications exposed me to a broad range of ideas while providing me with practical skills that remain critical to my day‐to‐day work. I credit my wonderful professors for challenging me, inspiring me, and providing me with a foundation of knowledge on which I could build a successful career. 

Beyond the classroom, my experience as a student‐athlete at New Paltz has also been instrumental in both my professional and personal development. My soccer coach, Roland Hess, and softball coach, Alan Dunefsky, were integral in shaping me as a person, teammate and leader. They taught me the importance of a team approach, and I refer back to their advice often while managing teams today. I was honored to have been inducted to the Carol Eckman Society in 2007, an organization committed to providing mentorship for current female student‐athletes as they plan to leave college and enter the professional fields.

My experience at New Paltz also taught me the value of serving others. It inspired me to get involved with PowerPlay NYC, Inc., a nonprofit committed to educating and empowering girls through sports. I am honored to serve as a member of their advisory board. Overall I consider my time at New Paltz to be one of the best times of my life, and I am grateful for the amazing professors, coaches and friends I was able to cross paths with during my time there.

August 2017