Chemistry Alumni Share Advice with Students over Lunch
Knowledge is of no value until you put it into practice. The value of knowledge peaks when alumni decide to come back and share what they know with current students.
Approximately 60 SUNY Oswego students and professors gathered together last spring in the Shineman Center for a chemistry alumni panel discussion.
The school welcomed back alumni:
- Steve Maier ’84 M’89, principal scientist at Bausch & Lomb;
- Sam VanDee ’98, senior forensic chemist at Onondaga County Center for Forensic Science;
- Colleen Alexander ’09, senior manager at global regulatory strategy and delivery at Baxter;
- Jessica Blodgett Vaughn ’13 M’15, investigation specialist at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals;
- Devin Busch ’15, quality control analyst at Regeneron Pharmaceuticals; and
- Francesco Papa ’19, sales consultant representing DePuy Synthes Joint Reconstruction.
During an hour-long discussion, the five alumni, who were seated at a table at the front of the room so the audience could have a clear view of who was speaking, shared advice and inspired current chemistry students. Complimentary pizza and water were provided for both the students as well as the alumni to enjoy during the panel.
Students currently enrolled in chemistry classes submitted questions prior to the start of the panel to be answered. A question would be presented and the five took turns speaking on it and echoing each other’s sentiments. The conversation was facilitated by chemistry department advisement coordinator, Kristin McNeill Gublo ’96 M’99.
Urging students to stay true to themselves and their aspirations was a common theme that existed within the answers given by the alumni. VanDee expressed the importance of making sure you are doing things that you enjoy.
“If you’re doing something that you love, you’ll never work a day in your life,” VanDee said.
Vaughn took his comments a step further by saying,
“Be patient,” Vaughn said. “You’re not going to be perfect. You’re still new at this. Make yourself well-rounded because there is more to your life than just your job.”
Having hobbies and extracurricular activities that they enjoy outside of their job helps them maintain a level head in what can be a very challenging field of work.
The alumni continued to provide life advice and tips for the students throughout the conversation.
Papa shared his tough journey, which included selling paint immediately after college to experiences of assisting in operating rooms during surgeries. He told the audience to always remember the importance of having an off switch, and trying to maintain balance between worklife and personal time.
“You gotta take time to turn it off at the end of the day to recharge,” he said.
~Brian Aldeus ’22
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