A record 47 SUNY New Paltz alumnae and thought leaders offered first-hand career advice on accelerating and achieving professional goals to students at the 9th Women’s Leadership Summit on March 29, 2023.
Hosted by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations and sponsored by the SUNY New Paltz Foundation, the Summit featured several small conversation groups led by alumnae and business experts in fields ranging from graphic design to law to technology.
Lynne Oldham ’86 (Business Administration and Finance), Chief People Officer Stash Financial, and formerly Zoom Video Communications, served as the keynote speaker. Her talk titled, “Applying Growth Mindset to Your Own Career and Leadership” focused on having a growth mindset in any career.
"When you have a growth mindset, you can change over time, and therefore you're open to reflect and learn and grow from your experiences," she said. "You're less fearful of failure, so you're more apt to trying new things."
Career growth was a recurring theme throughout the event. Alumnae noted that students may have to start out in jobs that are not the most gratifying before eventually reaching the goal of finding personal fulfillment in career.
"While you may not be thinking about fulfillment in your career when you're younger, it's important to ask yourself if you're happy with what you're doing as you get older," said Elizabeth Perez '98 (Electrical Engineering), who is the senior vice president and senior lead electrical engineer with WSP USA in Washington, D.C. "Once you lose that happiness, it's time to move on. Don't be afraid to take that next step."
"I encourage students to manage their expectations," said Regina Calcaterra '88 (Political Science), founding partner at Calcaterra Pollack LLP in New York City. "You may not be falling in love with what you're doing, and that's okay, because what you what you're finding out along the way, is what you don't like, and eventually, you're going to be able to find a place where you are personally fulfilled."
Calcaterra also spoke to being an Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) student during her time at New Paltz and offered advice to the next generation of EOP students.
"EOP students know how to organize chaos and how to manage in a crisis," she said. "Having a good perspective on what's important or not, they have skills that are far superior than some of their peers, and they need to tap into that with future internships and employers."
Casey Silvestri '17 (Digital Media & Journalism), currently the first news editor in social video for the Associated Press, reflected on meeting with the next generation of journalists at her alma mater.
"I love talking to students, especially media and journalism students, because I remember what it was like to be in their shoes and feel overwhelmed with graduation or a new semester approaching." she said. "My goal is to give students as much practical advice as possible, from figuring out how to present the resume or how to make a LinkedIn or portfolio to how to establish connections."
Students who attended the conversation groups felt encouraged by the advice they received from women succeeding in the career fields they aspire to.
"One thing that all the women I met with said is to not be stuck on a certain path," said Brooke Davis '24 (Psychology). "It's ok to change your mind."
"Hearing how encouraging each of these accomplished women were made me feel more sure about my future," said Dide Essiz '23 (Computer Science).
Lisa Sandick, program director for special events and sponsorships at SUNY New Paltz, was in awe of the spirit this year's Women's Leadership Summit fostered between alumnae and students.
"I was thrilled with the energy I witnessed between our alumnae participants and especially the students who had the opportunity for personal career mentorship with successful and emerging leaders from professions across most majors," she said.