In My Mind’s Eye

When I came to SUNY Oswego as a student on that snowy 1978 January day, I could not have imagined that my future, family, home and career would all be here on the shores of Lake Ontario.

Kerry Casey Dorsey ’81 retired from her role as SUNY Oswego’s vice president of development and alumni relations and president of the Oswego College Foundation Inc. in October after 13 years as an employee of the college. Among her many accomplishments, she led the successful completion of two major fundraising initiatives, the $23.8 million Inspiring Horizons campaign, and With Passion & Purpose: The Campaign for SUNY Oswego, which raised $43.48 million—the largest completed campaign among all SUNY comprehensive colleges.

After all, I was from Wantagh [Long Island] with a certain order to my universe. The expectation was that I would graduate, move to Queens with some girlfriends, get the big job, land in Manhattan then marry and settle in Westchester.

As Carly Simon sang, “Isn’t that the way I always heard it would be?” All that changed in 1979 when I met my wonderful husband, Dennis, over one of those idyllic Oswego summers. Fast forward 37 years, my life is filled with two beautiful children, Kevin and Erin, and a 30-year combined career in Oswego County government and at SUNY Oswego.

Returning to work on campus in 2003, it all came rushing back. Wasn’t it just last Friday that I left my Penfield Library study carrel, went to Hewitt Union check cashing office, stopped at the Sweet Shoppe and then went on to meet hometown roommate Lynn Winterfield Wilder ’80 at the College Tavern? And then one day it happened.

The first time I saw her, she was walking down from Sheldon Hall, clutching her books to keep warm against a crisp autumn day. Her long brown hair glimmered in the sun. Her pace was deliberate with a gleam in those hazel eyes. But she was only in my mind’s eye, my hazel eyes; she was my younger self, Bob and Joan Casey’s daughter, a first generation college student.

Could she, a Communication Studies major, have imagined helping to make public policy as Oswego County’s deputy administrator? Would she have been proud of engaging more than 85,000 alumni at her beloved alma mater and helping raise millions in funds for student scholarships and academic programs including establishing a scholarship for her cherished parents? How could she ever have known that one day President Deborah F. Stanley would appoint her as SUNY Oswego’s vice president for development and alumni relations and president of Oswego College Foundation Inc.?

I wish I could have told my younger self that her most rewarding professional endeavor would be to help advance the mission of SUNY Oswego and experience the transformative power of philanthropy, that she indeed would be humbled by both the generosity of our donors and the perseverance of our neediest students.

Like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, we would both come to learn that happiness lies in our own backyard. There is no place like home; there is no place like Oz.

– Kerry Casey Dorsey ’81

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