For Tara-Marie Lynch, being a part of a volleyball team that won two intramural championships is just as important as her numerous academic and campus-life accomplishments.
"I'm competitive," she said. "For me to go from working hard on an essay to playing a championship game in volleyball is something that I really enjoy."
It is that kind of determination and dedication that has made Lynch excel in and out of the classroom. A triple-major in economics, political science and international political economy from Woodbury, Conn., Lynch chose Binghamton University over the University of Miami.
"I loved the campus and I loved how diverse the student body was," she said. "It's a big campus, but I felt confident I would be able to make the connections with faculty that I would've at a smaller school."
One connection Lynch made right away was with Jill Seymour, associate director of Harpur Academic Advising. Seymour remembers meeting Lynch as a freshman and seeing "this intricately mapped out four-year program that included her triple majors, plans for internships and study aboard ... every semester mapped out including summers.
"It was color-coded and unbelievably detailed," Seymour said. "My first thought was 'This poor kid has no grasp of reality.' Was I ever wrong. She accomplished all of her goals and more."
A triple major with a minor in Spanish would be enough of a challenge for many students. But Lynch devoted herself to many aspects of campus life, including three years as a resident assistant in Mountainview.
"It's offered me many opportunities to get to know people, reach out to people and serve as a resource to others," Lynch said. "I feel like my involvement on campus is infectious to others and I can show people how great it is to get involved. There is so much to do."
Lynch's other activities include tutoring students in economics and Spanish for the past three years and serving as a teaching assistant in the Economics Department.
"I like learning, so helping others learn and understand material on a more personal level is something that's been really rewarding," she said.
She is also the first female president of the campus College Republicans and worked as an intern to Campus Photographer Jonathan Cohen in the spring semester.
How does Lynch find the time for everything? It's a question she is constantly asked.
"I want to do all of this," she said. "What allows me to do these things is that I love what I am doing. I was asked: 'So you really enjoy writing three honors thesis?' Yes, I genuinely enjoy what I do on campus."
Lynch has also enjoyed studying abroad. She spent the summer of 2010 at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid in Spain and has also visited France and Switzerland.
Her love of international experiences stemmed from her family hosting Spanish exchange students for five straight summers while she was young.
"That opened my eyes to the world being bigger than my small neighborhood in Connecticut," said Lynch, who also traveled to Spain as a 16-year-old exchange student. "It was the first time I was exposed to different cultures and languages."
That international experience came in handy when Lynch received an internship in the summer of 2011 with the U.S. Department of State's Foreign Service Institute, where she worked with diplomats in the economic and commercial training division. Earlier in the summer, she interned at Goldman Sachs on Wall Street.
Seymour believes that Lynch is the kind of student who be back at Binghamton University years from now to receive an honorary degree and speak at Commencement.
"In my 30-plus years of advising students I have had only a handful who can match Tara-Marie intellectually," Seymour said. "But that is only a part of her specialness as a student. Her energy and enthusiasm for learning are infectious and she shares that enthusiasm and excitement with anyone with whom she connects − staff, faculty and her fellow students."
Lynch wants to attend graduate school in the next five years, but prefers to get work experience after graduating. A "dream job" would combine international relations and marketing, she said.
Choosing Binghamton University was "one of the best decisions of my life," Lynch said. Working with people such as Seymour and having Harpur College Dean Donald Nieman as an advisor are among the many things that have made her college years memorable, she added.
"For me, it's been a collection of memorable experiences," she said. "I think the journey here has shaped who I am as a graduating senior and who I will be as I grow older."
SOM senior lands job and acceptance to highly competitive MBA program
By Steve Seepersaud
College can be a time when many young people reinvent themselves. That's certainly true for Taniel Chan, who admits he wasn't the best student in high school. However, at Binghamton University, he channeled his energies in a positive direction and will graduate this month as one of the School of Management's top students.
In fact, the Brooklyn native was accepted into Harvard Business School's 2+2 MBA program, which historically has admitted only 100 students out of more than 800 applicants from all over the globe. For the next two years, Chan will work at Goldman Sachs in the company's finance division, supporting merchant banking. Then, he will attend graduate school at Harvard.
He says the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi played a large role in his success at Binghamton. When he arrived on campus, he was ambitious but not incredibly focused. The older students he met inspired him to work harder on his studies than he ever had.
"I have benefited personally and professionally from Delta Sigma Pi in so many ways," Chan says. "The fraternity has people of all ages. It was great to have the upperclassmen to look up to. Now, I have students I can guide and alumni whom I can contact."
He says the Financial Statement Analysis course he took during junior year is one of the most significant academic experiences he had in SOM. Chan was one of only eight students selected to serve at UBS as an equities research intern.
SOM Dean Upinder Dhillon, who wrote a recommendation letter to support Chan's application to Harvard, says the course is one of the most challenging in the school's finance area. Chan worked alongside UBS analysts and during the final presentations, Dhillon says, analyzed complex problems and presented solutions in a convincing manner, earning high marks from the UBS team.
While excelling in the classroom and rising to the level of president of Delta Sigma Pi, Chan has been focused on giving back. He was instrumental in starting the Dean's Mentorship Program, which matches underclassmen with student mentors in their areas of interest.
"Fraternities have the big sibling/little sibling dynamic, and I wanted to re-create that experience for those who don't wish to be part of a fraternity," Chan says. "It's rewarding to feel that I've left a legacy and I plan to stay connected to it."
Dhillon says Chan is highly respected by faculty and his peers. Because of Chan's strong leadership qualities, Dhillon chose him to serve on the Dean's Advisory Board – a group of student leaders that meets with the deans monthly to provide input on strategic initiatives as well as student activities.
"[Taniel] is an exceptional motivator and has a natural ability to lead people," Dhillon said, in his recommendation letter. "He believes in making a difference and works hard to have an impact on projects he is involved in...He is one of the few students I would rate as outstanding and consider him one of the best at Binghamton University."
Watson graduate student finishes in top 30 at Boston Marathon
By Eric Coker
Craig Coon '10 decided to lower his Boston Marathon expectations when he woke up on race day and listened to the weather forecast.
"When I heard it was going to be 85-90 (degrees), all thoughts of (race) time went out the window," he said. "It was like, 'Well, let's just try to survive.'"
Coon, a 24-year old who will graduate with a master's degree in mechanical engineering, did more than survive the 116th Boston Marathon on April 16. He thrived, finishing in 28th place – and 14th among all U.S. participants.
Even more impressive was that the Boston race was only the second full marathon that the former Binghamton University cross-country and track standout had ever run.
"For me, I always liked going longer as opposed to going faster," Coon said. "I didn't have the foot speed that a lot of guys did. Along the way, the distance just built up.
Coon, from the Rochester suburb of Penfield, was captain of the 2009 cross-country team that won the American East title and the 2010 team that was conference runner-up. He also was captain of the 2009 track and field team and finished fifth in the 10,000 at the America East Outdoor Meet.
"Craig was both a great leader and runner for us," cross-country head coach Annette Acuff said. "He really helped create a competitive and positive running culture at Binghamton. He has an incredible work ethic and always gave us everything he had. We were very fortunate to have him be a part of our program."
After using up all of his athletic eligibility during his first year of graduate school in 2010-11, Coon decided to continue his distance running while also working on campus to improve flight simulator performance. Although he had never run a race longer than 6 miles, he entered the 13.1-mile Greater Binghamton Bridge Run last spring.
"It felt good and made me think that I needed to go do a full marathon," he said.
Coon immediately set his sights on one of the world's premier marathons: Boston. But he first needed to find a 26-mile event that he could use to qualify for the race. Coon's first choice – a marathon in Quebec City, Canada – was canceled and changed to a half-marathon after rainy weather last August. So Coon appealed to the directors of the Lehigh Valley Health Network Marathon to let him enter the Sept. 11 race.
The Lehigh Valley directors made a wise decision to let Coon race. Not only did he qualify for the Boston Marathon, but he won Lehigh Valley with a time of 2:30:43.
"I shocked myself," Coon said. "I thought, realistically, I could run 2:40-ish. I really had no idea how to race it, since I had never done a full marathon before."
With more than 22,000 entrants in the Boston Marathon, Coon said his initial mindset was "happy to be there."
"Boston is such an experience," he said. "I wanted to enjoy it. The crowds are great. If I went in with the mentality of 'Let's just run as hard as I can,' I would've missed out on what makes it Boston."
The warm weather took its toll on many race participants, as more than 2,000 received medical attention. Coon admitted that the heat is "part of the race."
"Everyone has to deal with it," he said. "Once you're in the race, you kind of forget about it and it takes its toll. But before the race, I tried to stay seated and not go out into the sun."
Other runners provided him with sunscreen and there was plenty of cold water and oranges from fans along the race route, he said.
"Little kids wanted high-fives, so that would give you a boost, too," he said.
Coon said he knew he was running well when "I looked around and didn't see many people."
"But it hits you in the final quarter," he said. "You think, 'OK, don't fall off the wagon. The wheels are starting to jiggle.' There are more rolling hills and the crowds are more at the sides, so you aren't getting as much cold water. The last three miles or so are definitely a challenge."
Coon finished the Boston Marathon with a time of 2:32:20. He didn't immediately know what place he finished, but there were indicators that he had run a great race.
"I knew I did well because I saw they were starting to interview the Kenyans on my right," he said. "There weren't many guys ahead of me and I couldn't see anyone behind me."
Wesley Korir won the race with a time of 2:12:40.
"I loved it," said Coon, who was happy to be greeted by strangers who noticed the Boston Marathon medal around his neck after the race. "I was happy with how I finished, but I still would've been happy if I had finished a half hour later. It was the experience: Every chance I got to slap hands or grab water, I did. It was an experience I wouldn't give back for anything."
While Coon plans to take part in an Ironman event in Lake Placid this summer, he has put marathons on hold to start a job with Knolls Atomic Power Laboratory (KAPL) in Niskayuna. After graduation, Coon will work in the plant operations program of KAPL, which is operated for the Department of Energy by Bechtel Marine Propulsion Corporation. He said he will train sailors in how to operate engine rooms of submarines. It's a job that combines his love of engineering with hands-on work and dealing with people.
"I have a tough time sitting still for long periods," he said.
Working in mechanical engineering professor Frank Cardullo's man-machines systems lab prepared Coon for the working world, he said. Coon worked on flight-simulator technology and was part of a team that included workers at the NASA facility in Langley, Va.
Dealing remotely with people in Virginia was beneficial, Coon said.
"It mirrors the real world because you're not always doing research on your own huddled in a corner," he said. "You have to deal with others and different research, philosophical and personal views. It really helped me land the job I'll have."
Six years and two mechanical engineering degrees later, Coon said he has enjoyed the academic marathon at Binghamton University.
"I've had a really good time here," he said. "I've met great friends and the professors have been willing to spend time with me. In some ways, I've enjoyed being here for six years instead of just four. It has been a fun journey."
Former pastor takes new path
By Eric Coker
Spending most of the past decade as a clergyman has helped David Klimachefsky prepare for his new career as a nurse.
"The pastoral role is not really that different (from nursing)," he said. "It's a different focus: spiritual pain and spiritual need. But it's still helping people in need. So even though this path seems very different on some levels, there is a central thread of caring for other people."
Klimachefsky, a 34-year-old originally from Baldwinsville, will receive his bachelor's in nursing as part of the Decker School of Nursing's Baccalaureate Accelerated Track (BAT) Program for college graduates from fields other than nursing. As part of the program, Klimachefsky has taken 52 credits of nursing coursework since starting at Binghamton University last May.
"That's a fast ride," he said with a laugh. "It's like trying to take a sip from a fire hydrant!"
Klimachefsky received his bachelor's degree in psychology and social sciences from the University at Buffalo in 1999. He had already "shifted tracks" to religion prior to graduation and took a position as director of youth ministry at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fulton, near Syracuse. Klimachefsky then attended Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, where he earned his master's in pastoral ministry in 2006. After a couple of years teaching at Eastern University in Pennsylvania, Klimachefsky turned to the church again and became a pastor at The Barn, an arts-oriented church in Allentown, Pa.
"I'm a musician and I love the arts," he said. "At least in the type of church I grew up in, there has been a massive divorce between anything artistic and faith."
At The Barn, Klimachefsky was responsible for teaching, preaching and he even started a community arts studio. But by 2010, he knew his life's work was not in the church.
"My ultimate goal was to combine my love of studying and my love of helping people," he said.
A talk with his mother-in-law − a second-career nurse − "planted the seed" for his own nursing career, Klimachefsky said. He began considering nursing schools and Binghamton University and the Decker School of Nursing "rose to the top," thanks to its value, location and reputation.
The transition to nursing school had one major challenge for Klimachefsky.
"I love to study, so the academics weren't concerning," he said. "What was concerning was the clinical component. I had never given anyone a shot! The clinical component was intense and I think any nursing student would tell you that. It's a different world, but once you do it for a couple of weeks, you get right over it and it becomes second nature."
Helping in the transition was the opportunity to work with faculty members such as clinical lecturer Alison Dura and clinical instructor Meg White.
"(Dura) represents a beautiful intersection of a great knowledge of the sciences and great nursing skills," he said. "She is loved by students and is just a good person.
"(White) has so much knowledge and experience," he added. "The thing I love about her is that she is so laid back. As student nurses, we're jacked-up, type A. She brings an even keel to the process and helps students get through tough times and new situations."
Both White and Dura agreed that Klimachefsky brings more than wisdom and maturity to the nursing profession.
"The kindness and compassion that he demonstrates in both patient care activities and collegial relationships is noteworthy," White said. "He is a person who can enter a situation and make everyone else involved feel comfortable. That is an excellent skill to have anyway, but especially in situations where emotions can be raw, as often happens in healthcare settings."
"He has shown that all of his previous learning and work experiences have a place in his new career," Dura said. "Furthermore, he has nurtured both his patients as well as his classmates in numerous ways. His enthusiasm, critical analysis and joy in life are always evident."
Klimachefsky said he considers it a privilege and an honor to be able to serve patients.
"Every moment that I enter the hospital, I have a chance to bring light and life and love to people – something that for me finds its source in God," he said. "Sometimes in an emergency situation, it's being able to hold somebody's hand. It's not like there is a dialogue about Jesus. It's not theological: it's about being present. And at other times, it's about caring communication. For me, that is at the heart of faith.
"Every day is an opportunity for me to practice my faith in a very real way. This gives me a chance to interact with people in a way I never would have in the other profession."
Klimachefsky will start work later this summer in a telemetry floor at UHS Wilson Medical Center in Johnson City, where he will assist patients with heart-related health issues. In the time between Commencement and the new job, Klimachefsky will renovate a house he recently bought in Vestal. He will live there with his wife and two daughters, ages 3 and 2.
"I'll tackle the (nursing) field after a little bit of the dust has settled – literally and figuratively!"
Besides carpentry, Klimachefsky enjoys music and has spent many years performing and recording. He plays piano, guitar, bass guitar and drums, although he admitted that there has been little time for it in the past year.
"It's truly been an intense road, but it's been a great road," he said. "Thankfully, all of the markers are saying not only is this the right career path for me, but this was the best place to do it. I am getting a great degree at a great price. I'm happy that I'm done, but I'm happy that I did here."
MPA graduate goes above and beyond
By Erica Treventi
Over the past three years, Lucia Esposito managed a full-time job, a young son and various public service projects, will earn a Master in Public Administration degree and ran her first 5K race.
"I think I'm just a very determined type of person," Esposito said. "If I like doing something, I commit to it fully, and I don't like slacking."
Esposito is also the recipient of the MPA program's award for a graduating practitioner.
"We felt that more than anybody else in the program, she really went above and beyond what a typical practitioner student would do," said Pamela Mischen, assistant professor and director of the Center for Applied Community Research and Development.
Esposito said the flexibility of the MPA program, with night classes at the University Downtown Center, allowed her to manage working full-time and starting a family while earning her degree.
"I could take all the necessary classes to graduate and I could do it in the evening, as a working student, so that was really beneficial," she said.
Esposito will have worked for the Broome County Office for Aging for six years in October. She said she chose the public administration program because a former student interned at her office and told her about it.
"She shared some interesting information with me about the program, and I thought it would be very helpful to my career, being that I work for a local government agency and I would like to continue to work in the public sector," she said.
During her time in the program, Esposito worked on several projects with Mischen. She did a service-learning project for the Broome County Gang Prevention program and helped organize a series of workshops for local non-profit organizations.
Esposito volunteered to continue to help the Broome County Gang Prevention program. She said the program is geared toward kids at risk of being involved in gang activity and it involves them in afterschool activities or sports. She designed a survey to evaluate whether the program had an impact on the children enrolled.
Organizing the series of workshops involved looking at literature and deciding what to teach the non-profit organizations. Esposito said they tailored the program to specific organizations and their individual needs.
"I really enjoyed having that impact on specific people," she said.
Mischen said the idea for the workshops came out of discussions the two of them had.
"She was really critical in identifying the need for that project and moving it forward," she said.
Esposito came to the United States after earning her first master's degree at the University of Economics in Bratislava, Slovakia, in 2004. Seeing her parents serve the public working for the government in Slovakia had an impact on her own career choice.
"I look back to when I first moved here, and it was really challenging for me," she said.
The Public Administration program, however, has helped her connect with the community.
"I think being able to get into this program kind of connected me more to this community and gave me a purpose for being here," Esposito said. "I feel like if I didn't do it, I would still be searching for something.
"I like the community more and I know more about it and working for a local government agency, I feel like I have more of a connection to the community," she said.
After all of her hard work, Esposito celebrated her upcoming graduation by running her first 5K race. But now, she isn't entirely sure what's next. She might consider going back to school in a year.
"I'm going to miss going to school," she said.
GSE student to focus on teaching children with disabilities
By Christine McKeown
Kevin Bates, a student in the Graduate School of Education, always knew that he wanted to dedicate himself to making a positive impact on others. With such strong enthusiasm for helping people, it's no surprise that he decided to pursue a career in teaching.
"I always had a passion to work with others and try to empower them somehow," said the 24-year-old from Windsor, N.Y. "I found that I like working with students in particular because I think schools are a really positive environment to be in."
When Bates assessed his future after completing his undergraduate degree at the College of Saint Rose, he soon decided that Binghamton University would be his next destination.
"When I came to visit I really liked the atmosphere, and especially the faculty. It just sort of clicked," he said. "I decided on special education because students with disabilities were the kind of clientele I really wanted to work with. I think that they need a voice, and I want to be part of helping them find it."
Bates came to Binghamton with a determination to make the most of his time, and resolved to take advantage of the University's many opportunities for getting hands-on experience. His academic advisor, Assistant Professor Candace Mulcahy, immediately took note of his eagerness to broaden his horizons.
"At our first advising meeting, Kevin expressed a strong desire to move out of his comfort zone, to learn about and work with people whose lives are very different from his own," said Mulcahy. "He demonstrated that commitment by taking on new and challenging experiences, proving that he's motivated and eager to expand his knowledge in very applied ways."
After his first semester of classes, Bates used his summer break to travel to areas of the world where he could observe educational systems and learning environments that were different from those seen in the United States. His first endeavor, a two-week trip to Honduras where he volunteered at a school for children with disabilities, had a particularly profound effect on him.
"It was a very eye-opening experience because it was a high-need, low-income area, which is very outside the norm for what you would usually see in our country," he said. "I learned that even if you only have a chalkboard and nothing else, there are still ways that you can teach effectively."
Bates' second trip was to Ireland, where he toured the Irish/English education system and learned about their model for special education. Both of these experiences overseas helped him to form his personal views on education, and also allowed him to more fully appreciate the education system in the United States.
"They definitely opened my mind up to things that I like about the American education system, and maybe even some things I'd like to change," he said. "I think that for the most part it kind of confirmed that I'm glad I'm going to be a teacher in the U.S."
While Bates recognizes these experiences abroad for expanding his personal horizons, he credits his work during the remainder of the summer for expanding his professional views. After working for two months in a program for teenagers with either Asperger's syndrome or high-functioning autism, Bates had no doubt that working with students who have disabilities was the right path for him.
"It was a unique experience to work with these kids in a non-academic setting," he said. "It was very challenging at times, but it confirmed that professionally I'm exactly where I want to be."
In addition to his extensive fieldwork, Bates considers the time he spent in the classroom at Binghamton to have been equally important in influencing his future as an educator. He credits Mulcahy and Assistant Professor Elizabeth Anderson specifically for helping to shape his teaching philosophies.
"Candace and Liz taught me the importance of treating each student as an individual, to go beyond what's in your job description because you need to help the student above all else," he said. "Especially working with students who have disabilities, you need to show the students that you care about them, and then after that you can engage them."
Bates, who will start work for Teach for America in Boston this fall, believes his time at Binghamton provided him with a personalized education that was invaluable in preparing him to become a teacher.
"Binghamton was great because I was able to be very creative with everything here, instead of just going through a program that had been laid out for me," he said. "I felt more like I was calling the shots, so I was able to grow into myself, and I'm definitely ready to take the next step now."