Going to college wasn’t even something Debbie Poland MacAvoy ’81 considered pursuing until she sat down with her guidance counselor in 1977 to talk about her options. She grew up in McDonough, N.Y., and graduated with fewer than 100 people.
“My guidance counselor said, ‘I think you need to go to college,’” MacAvoy said. “And I said, ‘I don’t really have any money so I don’t think I can go.’ But she helped me go through the application process; she helped me decide where to go, what major—everything. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have gone to college.”
Now, MacAvoy lives in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., and works in quality assurance, testing software for Informz, an email marketing company for associations.
MacAvoy likes to think she is paying it forward now by being a long-term mentor to Shelly Pettit ’19, an incoming freshman to SUNY Oswego who had similar feelings about college that 17-year-old MacAvoy did. Pettit is also the first to go to college in her family.
MacAvoy started tutoring Pettit when the student was in sixth grade. When Pettit started at Saratoga Springs High School, MacAvoy called the school to see if Pettit could be enrolled in Sponsor-A-Scholar, a program to help economically disadvantaged students succeed in high school and go on to college. Over the years the relationship has turned into more than just tutoring.
Through the program and the mentorship, Pettit found her way to SUNY Oswego.
MacAvoy came with Pettit and her mom to Accepted Students Day at SUNY Oswego in spring, and that is when Pettit made her decision on where to go.
“I actually fell in love with the campus,” Pettit said. “Oswego is just beautiful and peaceful.”
The two know they will stay close even after Pettit’s freshman year, and MacAvoy plans on bringing Pettit to and from campus in the fall and in the spring.
“It’s important for people to do their part to make the world a better place,” MacAvoy said. “It’s important to put their time in as well as giving money.”
—Cassidy Carroll ’15