40 Under Forty Group Shot
40 Under Forty Featured Story

Success. Influence.
Giving Back.

Celebrating New Paltz Alumni


I n its inaugural year, the 40 Under Forty awards recognition program at SUNY New Paltz sought to celebrate the achievements, success and influence of a younger alumni cohort. Honorees were nominated by their peers and faculty members and selected for achievements in their careers and communities.

More than 20,000 alumni were eligible. Finalists were chosen from a group of 139 nominees who found success in various fields, including education, the arts, science, technology, medicine, media and government. The chosen 40 alumni under the age of 40 earned an undergraduate, graduate or certificate of advanced study degree from the College and were honored at a June event at Novella's in New Paltz.

Kevin Purcell

"My time at SUNY New Paltz taught me several things. Most importantly was to utilize my voice to effect change. Be vocal about any problem, and always stand resolute when expressing myself."

Kevin Purcell, M.D. '10 (Black Studies; Molecular Biology)

“40 Under Forty reminded our alumni that we are interested in what they are doing beyond graduation and we are aware of the difference they are making in the world,” said alumna and Director of Alumni Relations Shana Circe ’02 ’08g. “While we hope our recognized alumni find fulfillment in their ongoing relationship with the College, we know that our students are the ones who will benefit most as they look to them for inspiration, mentorship and support.”

Kimberly Shannon Portrait
When I was at SUNY New Paltz, I started as a creative writing major and through that major not only did I gain writing skills that were beneficial to my career in education journalism, but it also gave me the emotional intelligence required to pursue a career in education policy. I later graduated with my degree in English. "
Kimberly Shannon ’12 (English) Gender Equity Coordinator for the NYC Department of Education, Astoria, N.Y.

While many of the honorees are doing precisely the kinds of things one might predict from their major, from biology majors who became medical doctors, to international relations majors who work in the foreign service, it is no secret that students will end up doing things in their lives and careers that they never imagined based on the content knowledge of their major. This speaks to the broad and immense potential of a strong liberal arts education embodied by many of the 40 Under Forty honorees, such as: the 2000 philosophy major who is now a senior economic development official in county government; another philosophy major who is now a senior software engineer with Microsoft; a 2012 graduate with an English major who is now a gender equity coordinator for the New York City Department of Education; and a 2000 Black Studies major who is now a defense products liability attorney.

George Ramos Portrait
As an undergrad I had some tough times where I really struggled, but with the help of my EOP counselors and professors, I was able to push through. To have gone from that difficult place to finding myself here among my accomplished peers feels amazing. It shows that with some hard work, dedication, and a good dash of humility, we can all come full circle. "
George J. Ramos Jr. '06 (Psychology), Mental Health Counselor, Yonkers, N.Y.

In addition to a strong liberal arts core, there is a longstanding commitment at New Paltz to social equity, environmental justice, and other causes bigger than the students themselves. There is a common focus on leaving the world better than they found it on local, regional, national or global scales. It comes as no surprise that many of the College’s alumni honorees demonstrate these commitments in their careers, such as: the fourth-year medical student who taught community health workers and farmers how to utilize computers in South Africa, and serves as a mentor for an organization created to increase diversity among U.S. physicians; a clinical psychologist at the Army Public Health Center and director of the Center for Trauma, Stress and Anxiety; and the director of the Teacher Advocacy Center at a major public university.

Jessica McKinney Portrait
My education in human services inspired me to work alongside Burmese refugees to document human rights violations against children along the Thai-Burma border. "
Jessica McKinney '06 (Sociology/Human Services; Political Science), Acting Senior Director of Development - Hope for the Warriors, Pearl River, N.Y.

These are just a few examples of the diverse pathways, impressive contributions, and good work that made the 40 Under Forty honorees exceptional nominees.

See the complete list of honorees below and visit www.newpaltz.edu/40underforty to read more about all 40 of the College's distinguished alumni.

For more photos from the event, please visit the online gallery

The 40 Under Forty Complete List of 2017 Honorees


Omara Afzal, D.O. ’05 (Biology)

Anthony Carinci ’01 (Business Administration)

Jade King Carroll ’03 (Theatre Arts)

Melissa Clark ’10 (International Relations)

Jeremy Copas ’02 (Communication Studies)

Michelle A. Coombs, Ph.D. ’07 (Psychology) ’09g (Mental Health Counseling)

Karen (Antonucci) Curley ’00 (Psychology)

Antonio P. DeRosa ’08 (English)

Fitzarnaz Drummond ’06 (Finance; Management)

Ashley-Drake Estes ’15g (Music Therapy)

Vanessa (Vasadi) Figueroa ’05 (Biology)

Jeff Fonda ’10 (International Relations)

Jennifer Gilligan ’11 (Communication Disorders)

Kari Giordano ’02 (Graphic Design)

Carolina Gonzalez, Ph.D. ’03 (Elementary Education)

Amber Greene ’03 (Communication)

Kyomi Gregory, Ph.D. ’05 (Communication Disorders)

Reetu Grewal, M.D. ’01 (Biology)

Barbara S. Head ’02 (Communication Media)

Rebecca Kassay ’10 (Environmental Studies)

Tara (Brower) Latorre ’11 (Communication Media)

Sharrell Matta ’04 (Psychology; Sociology)

Jessica McKinney ’06 (Sociology/Human Services; Political Science)

Ryan Nathanson ’06 (Communication Media)

Keisha A. Parker, Esq. ’00 (Black Studies)

Oliver Petrovic ’04 (Biology)

Kevin Purcell, M.D. ’10 (Black Studies; Cell/Molecular Biology)

George J. Ramos Jr. ’06 (Psychology)

Magda (Echeverri) Reyes ’06 (International Relations)

David Schwittek ’03 (Computer Science)

Erik Scorelle ’05 (Philosophy)

Rebecca (Faulds) Sela ’03 (Biology)

Ahmed Shama ’09 (International Relations)

Kimberly Shannon ’12 (English)

Vincent Vigilante ’03 (Theatre Arts)

Ranysha Ware ’13 (Computer Science)

Brandon M. Waterman ’06 (Political Science)

Tim Weidemann ’00 (Philosophy)

Matthew Younghans ’11cas  (School Leadership)

Mary Zawacki ’09 (History; French)

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