Alumnus Makes the Most of Life’s Obstacles and Opportunities

Photo: Cristal Rojas

Motivational speaker, bouncer, luxury hotelier, entrepreneur, inventor, stand-up comedian, film writer, start-up consultant, and non-profit fundraiser. These are a just few of the titles held by Brooklyn native Philip Caban ’05, who studied business administration at SUNY Oswego.

When he arrived at SUNY Oswego, he said he was over- whelmed by its beauty, the opportunities afforded him and the glimpse of a life he never thought was possible.

“I grew up in the ’hood and was surrounded by guns, violence and drug activity,” he said. “My friends were being killed or going to jail, and here I was in the middle of this beautiful campus. My universe had flipped. It was hard to focus on college because I expected my life to end up in a terrible way.”

But an EOP (Educational Opportunity Program) counselor at Oswego helped him change his thinking by reminding him if he wasn’t going to take advantage of the opportunities at Oswego then he should leave to let someone else benefit.

“I realized that everyone there was interested in my well-being and in helping me succeed, if and only if I engaged them the right way,” he said. In addition to his studies and two off-campus jobs, Caban pledged Delta Kappa Kappa, helping to cultivate a philanthropic atmosphere.

After college, Caban entered the hospitality industry, working his way from front desk attendant to manager of a luxury hotel.

“I learned the importance of, and how to, communicate as effectively with the immigrant who left school in 2nd grade as with the Princeton-educated CFO,” he said. “I learned so much. It was a crash course in all aspects of commerce and life.”

Then his life changed dramatically again. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer and wasn’t certain he would survive.

Now as a four-year cancer survivor, he said he wants to make the most of every opportunity presented to him.

His life experiences inspired the design of an anti-microbial smartphone case that led to the creation of Goze ( The company donates a portion of all sales to DKMS, one of the world’s largest cancer charities and bone marrow donor registries. Caban developed the #gotcheeks marketing campaign to encourage people to have their cheeks swabbed and become a potential donor on the registry.

He also serves as a motivational speaker through his own company Philip M. Caban, LLC and works with teens aging out of foster care via a program he started called The H.U.S.T.L.E. (Helping Under-Serviced Teens Learn Entrepreneurship) Academy in NYC.

“I was given a second chance at life, and I’m going to crush every minute of it,” he said. “I believe there are kids out there who would benefit from hearing my story. It is selfish not to share what I’ve learned to help others.”

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