Edit Page

Faces of New Paltz

Brian Spina - Secondary Education in Mathematics

Past Faces of New Paltz
Lara Hope
Public Relations - 06
Jeffrey Cifuentes
International Business/
Asian Studies

Major: Secondary education in mathematics
Hometown: Albany, N.Y.
Anticipated Graduation: 2015

  • Captain, New Paltz Men’s Soccer
  • Orientation Leader
  • Student Athletic Advisory Committee
  • Residence Hall Government
  • Intramurals Coordinator

What brought you to New Paltz?
I first heard of New Paltz through friends. I visited with my parents, and I liked the campus a lot. Then I came for a recruiting visit. I actually came down for a couple of them, just to see it over and over. It was an hour and 15 minutes away from my house. It’s a separation from my family, but at the same time, I’m really close, so I can always go back and see them. It definitely drew me, the campus itself and the area it was in. It’s not in the middle of nowhere – there’s stuff to do here.

Such as?
My favorite thing to do is go up to the top of Mohonk Mountain and climb the Lemon Squeeze. I also love going to town – it’s so interesting to see all the different types of people. My friends and I go to Tuesday movie nights a lot. But Mohonk is definitely my favorite. And, of course, I play a lot of soccer.

How do you find a balance between soccer and classwork?
It helps that our coach, Gene Ventriglia, really pushes for academics. He tells us that academics are number one throughout the season. If there’s a class that’s only offered during our practice time, we just won’t be able to go to practice. We may only be able to make three out of five practices a week, but our coach knows that we’re here first to learn, and soccer is something we do for fun.

What did you get out of your experience with the orientation team?
Orientation got me a lot more comfortable with talking in front of large groups of people. The experience really did help me to start having conversations with people I don’t know personally. I was in clubs in high school, but this was something I hadn’t ever been involved in, and it helped me make a lot of connections.

At orientation, I always advise people to join something. It’s good to be a part of something. We call each other a family on the soccer team, and we still do even in the off season. That’s really nice to have. With the amount of people I know from doing orientation, hall government, soccer, and intramurals, I feel so much more comfortable walking around campus and having people say “Hi,” because they know me. The more people you know, the more comfortable you’re going to be on campus, and the less likely you’ll have to be alone. It can’t hurt. It’s not a huge school, so everywhere I go, I usually see someone I know. I like that feeling a lot

What would you say to someone thinking about going to New Paltz?
Other than to seriously consider it, I’d say visit more than once. Each time I visited, it was a whole new experience for me. The first time I visited, I got the impression that New Paltz was an artsy school, and I said, “That’s not really me.” But when I visited more and more, you get to see what’s behind that initial image of New Paltz. There is literally every single type of person on campus, and no matter who you are, you’re going to find a group of people you’re comfortable with, who are like you.

Know any outstanding students, faculty/staff members, or alumni? Let us know!