In the past five years, the number of alumni visits to campus through the Oswego Alumni Association’s signature Alumni-In-Residence program has grown exponentially from 34 in 2011-12 to 164 in 2015-16. And so far this fall semester is outpacing the numbers from last year.
“I attribute the growth of the Alumni-In-Residence program to more students, faculty, staff and alumni becoming aware of its wide range of benefits,” said Laura Pavlus Kelly ’09, director of Alumni Relations. “Connecting current students with successful alumni sparks many conversations surrounding career exploration and mentorship, while giving alumni the chance to return to their alma mater and experience the impact of their engagement firsthand.”
The AIR program, coordinated by Associate Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Stephanie Lamb ’07, brings recent and more established Oswego alumni back to campus to share their knowledge and career experiences with current students. Students and faculty alike benefit from hearing alumni speak of their professional experiences and what a particular field of study is like in a professional setting.
Alumni participants often report that they are inspired by the students and feel reconnected to their younger selves being back on campus and visiting their favorite spots. They also enjoy seeing all the progress and updates that have been made to the campus since they’ve graduated.
Alumni interact with students through classroom presentations, over informal lunches or during campus-wide lectures. Sometimes the alumni lead hands-on workshops, host resume and job interview critiques or review professional portfolios for students.
The AIR program is one of many OAA programs supported annually by gifts to The Fund for Oswego. To learn more about this and other OAA programs, visit alumni.oswego.edu.
From an astrophysicist and a choreographer to a video game designer and an agricultural advocate, here’s a sampling of some of the alumni who returned this fall.
Alumna Shares Message of Empowerment to Students
Tessa Edick ’92 created a not-for-profit organization FarmOn Foundation! to fill the farming succession gap by inspiring the next generation to choose agricultural careers, creating an economic engine that connects the rural and urban marketplaces and raising awareness about local food choices through education and community-building.
During a Sept. 30 visit, she shared her experiences and her advice to students in a marketing class on leadership and with student officers in the Women in Business club. She told the students to be themselves and pursue their dreams—whatever they are.
“Authenticity is more relevant today than achievement,” she said. “Find what drives you and do that.”
Stellar Astrophysicist Shares Research
More than 40 students and faculty attended the Sept. 29 Science Today lecture by Earl Bellinger ’12, an astronomy doctoral student at Yale University, researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research in Germany, and the first SUNY Oswego student to intern with NASA at CalTech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The lecture, “From Starlight to Stellar Ages: A Look Inside the Private Lives of Stars,” led participants through techniques used to map, model and calculate the age and distance of galactic phenomena.
“In truth, we don’t know so much about the galaxy,” Bellinger said. “We have to infer so much.”
Alumnus Returns ‘Home’ to Assist with ‘The Wizard of Oz’ Auditions
Dancer, choreographer, actor and teacher Dexter Jones ’86 returned to Oz to meet with students and help conduct auditions for SUNY Oswego’s fall production of The Wizard of Oz.
“This is coming home for me,” Jones told students in Jonel Langenfeld’s Movement for the Actor class in Hewitt Union on Sept. 2. “There’s no place like home.”
Jones led students in floor exercises and shared movements and stretches that help professional actors and dancers warm up for action. He shared stories of his career and encouraged students to ask questions.
“I walked out of here with a job, and I haven’t stopped going since,” said Jones, who has appeared on Broadway, in national theatrical tours and in several television productions.
Video Game Developer Encourages Creative Exploration
Jeff Gardiner ’95, a 15-year veteran of the video game industry, told a standing-room only audience as part of a Living Writers Series lecture on Sept. 12 that if they wish to work in the complex world of video game design, step away from the console.
“Don’t sit in your apartment and play video games,” he said. “Living life is the best well from which to draw inspiration.”
Gardiner is a lead designer for Bethesda Game Studios, the worldwide leader in open world concept games. He has shipped 20 titles, including such household names as The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim, Fallout 3, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and Fallout 4.
But Gardiner did not access the industry through computer science; rather, he was an English and writing arts major. Game design requires extensive collaboration of a variety of skill sets ranging from those who write narratives to those who develop the system, he said.
He is pictured with (from left) creative writing faculty member Juliet Giglio, and students Emily Rundle ’18 and Adam Jackson ’17.