B-First

Are you FIRST?

BFirst is the mentoring network for first-generation faculty, staff and students at Binghamton University. Being FIRST means paving the way for others and that journey can be daunting. BFirst seeks to provide first-gen students at Bing with the opportunity to connect with first-gen mentors for support, information, insight and inspiration to help you thrive and succeed on campus as you pursue your degree. If you are among the first in your family to attend and/or graduate from college in the U.S., join BFirst.


Mentors

  

Bat-Ami Bar On

bat-ami bar on

Professor, Philosophy

I started university studies after 2 years of compulsory military service. I stayed in academe since then following my BA studies with MA studies and my MA studies with PhD studies. I specialize in political theory.

Taña Barajas

tana barajas

International Admissions Counselor, Undergraduate Admissions

I grew up on the Los Angeles area, my mom is an executive assistant and my dad is a jeweler. I've had aunts, uncles and cousins go to college and I guess they figured that I was bright and would know what to do by osmosis or that I would ask for help when needed. I had been taking care of my academics since the 6th grade and I believed that I was the expert in my own education. I didn't know what I didn't know and as it turns out I was not very good at asking for help. It took me seven years to get my undergraduate degree! I spent the first four in community college and the last three at university. I had wonderful experiences, but I definitely missed out on opportunities to network, maximize my internship and study-abroad experiences or to earn an accelerated degree. Today I am an admissions counselor and I've learned so much in my working years about networking and relationship building. I hope to impart the knowledge and experience that I have gained and to learn from the incredible students that I know will be a part of this program.

 Clara Barnhart

clara barnhart

Academic Advisor, Harpur Academic Advising

I grew up not far from Binghamton in the tiny town of Unadilla, NY. I went to Champlain College in Burlington, VT, where I studied Professional Writing. After graduation I worked as a tutor and residential counselor for at-risk teens for a couple of years before coming back to complete my MA and PhD in English and Creative writing at Binghamton University. I love books, anything active outdoors, chicken wings, noodles, and my dogs (if you come visit my office I'll show you lots of pictures of them)!

Barrett Brenton

barrett brenton

Faculty Engagement Associate, Center for Civic Engagement

Both of my parents graduated from high school but did not go on to college. My older brother and I dreamed of going to college starting when we were in grade school. He wanted to be a zoologist and I wanted to be an archaeologist. We both actually ended up getting our doctorates in our respective fields. It was not as direct of path as it seems. Our parents were very supportive of us, but we knew we had to cover the cost. Thus, we both went to a large public university. I always knew that I could fall back on the skills I had learned in the construction trade if it did not work out. I started out as a music major with scholarship support, Pell Grants, and loans. After my first year I switched to being an anthropology major and have not left higher education since. 

Ashley Bui

ashleybui

Graduate Assistant/Teaching Assistant, Psychology, Behavioral Neuroscience

I'm pursuing a PhD in psychology, in the area of behavioral neuroscience, studying the effects of maternal care on anxiety, alcohol use, and neurosteroid action. My older brother was the first to attend/graduate college from our family but I was right there behind him (by two years). I'm also first-gen in the sense of my brother and I being the first in our family to be born in the US. As a graduate student, my college experiences and hardships are still fresh in my mind and I'd like to help current first-gen undergrads at BU in any way that I can, even extending beyond coursework/academia.

Lakshmi Bulathsinghala

lakshmi bulathsinghala

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Theatre/ AAAS/ Music/ WGSS

In 2008, Lakshmi came to the USA under a fellowship to further her studies and obtained her second Master’s Degree in Theatre and her PhD in Philosophy Interpretation and Culture from the State University of New York, Binghamton. She started teaching here as an adjunct lecturer in 2013 and continues as an adjunct Assistant Professor in the Departments of Asian and Asian American Studies, Music, Theatre, and Women Gender and Sexuality Studies. Since 2013 she has taught courses in “Gender and Sexuality in South Asia and the South Asian Diaspora”, “Women in Film: World Cultures”, “Imagining Women in South Asia”, “South Asian Culture and Society”, “Introduction to Indian Vocal Music”, “Dances of South Asia”, “Introduction to Asian Theatre”, and “Dance-drama Styles in India”.
Lakshmi also is a performing artist from Sri Lanka and has been actively engaged as an actress in theatre, television, and film and has directed and produced plays. She directed, produced, and starred in the celebrated play Bera Handa, adapted from Sophocles’s fragmentary play Iqneutae by the veteran Sri Lankan playwright, the late Mr. Bandhula Jayawardena and her directing activities at Binghamton include Patrick Marber’s After Miss Julie and Lee Blessing’s Independence. Last year she produced and starred in the new television drama series Sulaga Mahameraka, which has been airing on the Sri Lankan national network; she will be starring and producing another television series in December 2019.

Ryan Cadwell

ryan cadwell

 
Graduate Student, Research Project Assistant, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Hi! I did my BS in Electrical Engineering at Binghamton University and am doing an MS in the same field now also at Bing. I am currently doing research in printed and RF electronics. Undergrad was a lot of figuring things out without knowing what to expect or what to look for or what to do, but I ended up getting through it! I was involved in Hinman College Council and some other clubs. I found close friends and succeeded in getting the degree, but not without learning from failures. I hope I can share what I've learned and that it will be helpful for someone. Hobbies include: badminton, soccer, hiking, sketching, other things. 

Kristin Calegari

kirstin calegari

Assistant Director of Residential Life, Residential Life

*BA from Assumption College in Worcester, MA in Biology with a minor in Spanish. As an undergraduate, was an RA, involved in Hall Council and Student Activities/Campus Programming - Met my husband as an RA
*M.Ed from Springfield College in Springfield, MA in Counseling and Psychological Services with a concentration in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education.
*Professionally have worked as a Resident Director and Area Coordinator at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, a Resident Director at Westfield State University in Massachusetts and back at Western New England University as an Area Coordinator.
*Assistant Director of Residential Life here at Binghamton for 16 years and in that time have been the AD of Hinman for 5 years, Newing for 4 years (including seeing Newing through demolition, building and opening of new newing) and the Apartments for 7 years. This year I'm overseeing both the Apartments and Mountainview. I also teach UNIV classes here at BU, am the AD that oversees RA Selection, have developed the transfer initiative in the Apartments, developed and taught an online course for parents of first-year students, conceived of the Career Consultant in Residence positions between Res Life and Fleishman and was the AD who started Hinman theme week. Beyond Residential Life, my other areas of professional interest are parent/family relations and K-12 to Higher Education transition and access.
*Personally, my husband and I live locally in Endicott and have two daughters. Autumn, my oldest, just transferred to Binghamton from Broome, lives on campus (but is very excited to be living off-campus in her own apartment next year!) and is a junior music major, who is hoping to minor in education and pursue a career as a middle school music teacher. My youngest daughter Abbie is a freshman in High School who plays both soccer and lacrosse. Some of my hobbies and interests are reading, trip planning and watching my youngest play soccer and lax and my oldest daughter perform. I love cats, because they're sassy balls of fur and my guilty pleasure is sci-fi fantasy books and tv/movies.
*Biggest Challenges as a first gen student - Definitely financial - the bulk of my education for both undergraduate and graduate education at two private liberal arts colleges, was through financial aid and student loans. I'm still paying on these loans almost 25 years later.
*Biggest Successes - being part of a dual career family and raising two wonderfully strong daughters. Also, being able to receive my Master's degree and using my experience and now knowledge of higher education to help students of today.

Sandra Casanova-Vizcaíno

sandracasanova

Assistant Professor of Spanish, Romance Languages and Literatures

I am the second daughter of immigrants from Spain. I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, but I have also lived in Spain, Argentina, and the United States, so I consider myself an immigrant as well. As an undergraduate, I attented the University of Puerto Rico-Río Piedras where I majored in Hispanic literature and French. I also went to the University of Pennsylvania where I completed a PhD in Hispanic Studies. As a first generation student, I received full support from my parents, but mentorship on University life was very hard to find. That is why I am fully committed to public education and to first generation students who struggle to find their place in college. My research interests are Puerto Rican literature and culture, and horror fiction. I enjoy indoor gardening, hiking, and traveling with my husband and my son.

Robyn Cope

robyncope

Assistant Professor of French, Romance Languages and Literatures

I grew up in Ohio. Because my dad was a union (United Auto Workers) man, our family had it better than most of our working-class neighbors. That basic understanding has shaped my worldview to this day. I earned a BA in French from Miami University, an MEd and K-12 French teaching certificate from Xavier University, and a PhD in French from Florida State University. In between and along the way, I worked in service and parts for a machine tool company and as a high school French teacher. As a first-generation college student, I sometimes struggled with imposter syndrome, wondering if I truly “belonged." Here at Binghamton, I specialize in French Caribbean literature and culture. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

Zoraya Cruz-Bonilla

zoraya cruz-bonilla

Data Research Analyst, Student Affairs Assessment and Strategic Initiatives

My father completed some college course work but did not complete it. My mother grew up in the country side of El Salvador and did not have access to school beyond 6th grade. Despite financial, language, and cultural barriers, they managed to bring to the United States... by plane... woohoo! Several years later, I was the last of three children to receive a Bachelor's degree at a SUNY institution and did it with the rest of my peers (i.e., in 4 years). Most recently, I received my master's degree while working full-time at Binghamton University. #perseverancecounts

Steve Czarnecki

steve czarnecki

Associate Director, S3IP Center of Excellence

From early age growing up in the Chicago area, I was fascinated by how things work and by middle school decided to become an electrical engineer. My parents, who also were immigrants to the U.S., placed high emphasis on learning, a strong work ethic, and achievement. They, and others such as my teachers, and later, supervisors while I was an undergraduate student and my graduate research advisor gave me strong encouragement in my studies, as did camaraderie with classmates from elementary school through graduate school, some of whom remain lifelong friends. I attended General Motors Institute (now named Kettering University), a small college owned and operated by General Motors at the time for the purpose of training engineers to work in the company. It was a cooperative (co-op) education program, and every six weeks I alternated between work assignments in a GM locomotive factory and academic sessions at the college. After earning a bachelor degree in electrical engineering, I proceeded directly to graduate study at Princeton University, earning a PhD there. After completing the doctorate, I started a job with the IBM plant here in Owego, NY, which eventually became part of Lockheed Martin corporation. I retired from there as a director of advanced technology after 30 years with the company, and joined Binghamton University in 2013 to manage the S3IP Center of Excellence. Outside of work, my wife and I live on large rural property among woods and fields with our St. Bernard dog, Abby. Among other things, when not riding on my tractor mowing grass or plowing snow, I am driving my Corvette or busy with gardening, beekeeping, amateur astronomy, music listening, piano practice, making ice cream, cooking and baking, reading, cheering the NY Yankees, or just simply enjoying the outdoors and the company of friends.

Jah Davis

jah davis

Diversity Education Coordinator, Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion

My name is Jah Davis and I am a Diversity Education Coordinator for the Division of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Binghamton University. I am originally from Brooklyn, NY and was the first of my family to attend college. Fortunately, my family provided moral support throughout my academic journey. I pursued my undergraduate studies at SUNY Cortland and graduated with a degree in Africana Studies. Through student leadership, I was able to build community away from home, get more involved on campus and gain meaningful contacts. I continued on to graduate school at Binghamton University to pursue a Masters degree in Student Affairs Administration. My passions include social justice, inclusivity, college student development and equity for marginalized groups.

Heather Dorn

Intructor, Writing Initiative

I grew up in poverty and was the first in my family to go to college, my mother achieving a high school diploma and my father earning his GED. Mentors helped me recognize my potential and I went on to study the importance of mentors to the success of women, students of color, and non-trad students, who can be shut off from the informal dissemination of information and opportunities. My other specialties include writing studies, motherhood studies, and digital medias. I publish my writing and run community poetry workshops as well. In my spare time I make Shrinky dink jewelry, karaoke, and worship my cat Frank. 

Katie Ellis

katie ellis

Senior Director for Communications and Marketing

I am one of seven siblings (I’m #5) who are all first-gen college graduates — all successful in their careers after having put themselves through college. World War II ended any hopes of my father pursuing higher education, and my mother was a nurse who earned a Bronze Star serving in the U.S. Army in the Pacific Theater during the war. My father was ill from the time I can remember and became totally unable to work by the time I was 11. With no money to speak of, I relied on scholarships and financial aid to put myself through school — working in the library all four years and even joining the chorus because it paid a small stipend. My college orientation started when one of my brothers dropped me off (with my trunk) in front of my residence hall and drove away. I was on my own for the first time in my life. Luckily, my education has served me well and I love what I do at Binghamton University. I would not have had a successful career without earning a degree.

Mike Elmore

mike elmore

Director, Engineering Design Division

Mike Elmore was an engineer in industry for many years prior to his position at Binghamton University. He is married with three children: Andrea, an epidemiologist; Brendan, an engineer; and Chris, a veterinarian. Susan, his wife, was an elementary school teacher. He majored in philosophy and minored in psychology before earning an advanced degree in secondary school mathematics education. He taught high school for several years before going back to school to study engineering. His professional website is: http://systemicdesignandanalysis.com

Katrina England

katrinaengland

Instructor/Ph.D. Candidate, Philosophy

I am a first-generation college graduate from a low-income family. Now, I am a Ph.D. Candidate with an MA in Social, Political, Ethical, and Legal Philosophy. With the help of Upward Bound (a high school TRiO program), I successfully applied to college, and in four years, I had earned a degree in Philosophy with a minor in Gender Studies from a small liberal arts school in Utah. My family and I paid for tuition through a combination of sports scholarships (cross country, track and field), academic scholarships, and a four-year work-study position as the assistant to the Director of Disability Services on campus. I was very lucky to be accepted into two prestigious programs at my college that gave me a sense of community and helped me to navigate higher education: the McNair Scholars Program (another TRiO program) and the Westminster Honors Program. My biggest obstacle to graduating college was financial stress; I applied for scholarships every year I attended school, and even with substantial financial aid, scholarships, 20-hours of on-campus work a week, I always had to take out loans that I worried I would never be able to pay back and would further burden my family.

Erica Garay

erica garay

Neutral Arbitrator and Mediator of Commercial and Employment Claims, Garay ADR Services

I am an attorney. I served as a partner at law firms, doing litigation. I was very active in the business community, serving on a number of nonprofit boards. I founded and was on the board of several women’s organizations. I now have my own company and serve as an arbitrator and mediator in employment and commercial cases. 

Michelle Gardner

michelle gardner

Senior Director of Foundation Relations and Campaign Gift Strategies, Development Office, Division of Advancement

When I entered Carleton University on Ottawa, Canada in the fall of 1983, I was the first in my immediate family to attend university. Neither of my parents had graduated from high school and my only sibling still had three years of high school ahead of him. Both of my parents achieved small town success but they were confident that with a university degree, I would do better and experience more (even if they were not sure what that might mean). I paid for school with a combination of financial aid and loans (we really did not have the money for school) – I was a good but not great student so no scholarships. When I graduated with my BA in English, I tried several paths and finally found my fit as a professional fundraiser -- a career that my family was unaware was even a job. I recently graduated with my MS in Systems Science from Binghamton – a long, long path from that English degree to engineering school! I’m an active volunteer who enjoys travel (16 countries and counting!), cooking, gardening and a good adventure.

Kim Garrison

kim garrison

Assistant Director, Housing and Residential Life

While I am no longer at Binghamton, I would enjoy connecting about the first gen experience. I have been working with students in residence halls for more than a decade. I enjoy being active, playing sports, spending time with my two kiddos and partner, and am a foodie.

As an undergrad, I needed help navigating the many levels of the campus I was on. Being a student athlete, my coach encouraged me to connect with an anthropology professor whose class I was struggling in at mid-terms to get a better grade. We built a great relationship through office hours and follow up meetings, they became one of my favorite professors, and I have a degree in anthropology because of them. 

Omid Ghaemmaghami

omid ghaemmaghami

Associate Professor, Arabic & Near Eastern Studies

Omid Ghaemmaghami is Associate Professor of Arabic and Near Eastern Studies in the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Studies and Director of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) studies program at Binghamton University. He holds a PhD in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Toronto, an MA in Islamic and Near Eastern Studies from Washington University in St. Louis, and certificates in advanced Arabic from the Dalalah Institute in Damascus and the American University in Cairo (AUC). Omid has taught and lectured on Arabic and Islamic Studies at universities and academic institutions in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Egypt. He is passionate about promoting unity in diversity and contributing to the betterment of the human race.‎

Sophia Givre

sophia givre

Career Consultant, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development

I was a first-generation college student from a low-income family that was unaware of how to take advantage of the resources available to me. Even though I was an Educational Opportunity Program (EOP) student at one of the colleges I attended, I didn’t utilize the program the way I should have. I thought I could manage everything on my own and that if I worked hard, opportunities would come my way. I also didn’t want to share any of the obstacles I was facing with anyone or ask for help because I thought people would judge me. Over the years, I learned that I didn’t have to do everything on my own. So, as a graduate student and Clark Fellow, I utilized the community and resources that were available to me. I ended up receiving a Ph.D. in Sociology with a concentration on inequalities in education. I spent some time as a counselor for an Opportunity Program and absolutely loved it. Now that I am no longer in that role, I want to continue mentoring students that share similar experiences so I can help them learn from my mistakes and accomplishments.

Fernando Guzman

fernando guzman

Professor, Mathematical Sciences

Professor Fernando Guzmán obtained his undergraduate degree at
Universidad de Antioquia, in Colombia where he grew up. He, and his
siblings are first generation college students. He then moved to the
US to obtain his PhD at Syracuse University in 1985. Since then, he
has been a faculty member at Binghamton, where in addition to teaching
and research, he has been heavily involved in programs that promote
diversity and inclusion of underrepresented minorities.

Johnathan Hagofsky

jonhagofsky

Graduate Teaching Assistant, Philosophy

The thought of attending college was a late development for me, coming from a long line of glassworkers in rural Pennsylvania. I became motivated to apply only after my two older brothers had been rewarded full scholarships through the McKelvey Foundation. I must thank both my brothers and the McKelvey family for broadening my life prospects. I went on to attend Bucknell University after being offered a very generous needs-based scholarship and would later assume an administrative role at the University with the technology support team.

Alicia Hibbard

alicia hibbard

Graduate Student, Master of Student Affairs Administration

My parents always encouraged me to follow my dreams and for that, I will always be grateful. My father was in the air force and took some college courses in order to increase his skillset, but never completed a degree and my mother, the first of her family to consider college, received her associate’s degree in technology from a local community college (disregarding her father’s disapproval). I, the eldest child, attended SUNY Oneonta where I received my BS in human ecology conc. apparel & textiles and art conc. design and a minor in business/economics. Since elementary school, I wanted to be a fashion designer; I used to take the clothing I bought from Salvation Army and change it so it was uniquely mine to wear to school. During my sophomore year, my love of nature took over and I couldn’t see myself moving to the big city, so I added my art major and business minor and focused on graphic design. While I was in school, I was lucky enough to receive two academic scholarships to attend and then I also worked as a residential advisor for three years (my first taste of working in higher education). After graduating, I began working in marketing, first in a small design firm and then in a corporate environment. While I loved the design work, I didn’t feel like I was making a meaningful difference, so two years ago, I decided to get back into higher education. My passion is to help others find their path and believe that they can achieve anything they put their mind to while also working hard to break down any barriers that may stand in the way. Playing soccer, mountain biking, hiking, traveling, singing and finding crafty activities are among my favorite things to do.

Claire Kovacs

claire kovacs

Curator of Collections and Exhibitions, Binghamton University Art Museum

Claire Kovacs is the Curator of Collections and Exhibitions at the Binghamton University Art Museum. Her road to a museums career was winding and took a few detours to chemical engineering and art history (she is happy to tell you the story in person). She obtained her Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and her master’s and bachelor’s degrees from Case Western Reserve University – all in art history. She curated exhibitions at the Figge Art Museum, Coe College, and the Krasl Art Center, and the Augustana Teaching Museum of Art. Her strategies for programming and exhibitions emphasize the ways that academic museums explore contemporary issues, foster interdisciplinary inquiry, create space for a multiplicity of voices and perspectives, and function as a site of dynamic community engagement. She emphasizes intersectional equity, diversity, accessibility and inclusion in collections, exhibitions, and programming. Her research practice grapples with ways that art historical research can support ‘The Common Good’ (to borrow a phrase from the NEH), using curatorial practice and writing as a mechanism by which to amplify under-told stories. She participated in the 2018 Getty Leadership Institute’s NextGen program, as well as the NEH/Newberry Library Summer Institute on Art and Public Culture in Chicago. She co-hosted The Gallery Gap, a WVIK podcast that examines in/equity in museum exhibitions, programs, and collections. 

Erica Kryst

erica kryst

Senior Assistant Director, Career Consulting and Education, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development

My older brother and I were the first in our family to pursue a college degree. I earned my Bachelor or Arts in Communications and Musical Theatre from Susquehanna University in 2005. As an undergraduate, I struggled to find the academic and career path that was right for me, changing my major 6 times. A conversation with a mentor pushed me to consider a career in higher education, and apply for my Master of Science in Education in College Student Personnel, which I completed a Bucknell University in 2009. Since then, I've worked in Residential Life at the University of New Hampshire and as a Career Counselor at Penn State University. I'm currently pursuing my PhD in Educational Theory and Policy from Penn State University where my research is focused on the the identity development of college students from rural communities, post-secondary educational and vocational outcomes, and the experiences of first-generation college students. I've been with Binghamton University for just over two years and I am excited to support our amazing first-gen students! 

Michael Lam

michael lam

Graduate Assistant, Sustainable Communities

I am an alumni and current graduate student at SUNY Binghamton. I majored in Biology after being undecided for a year, and ended up joining a plant research lab. I then went on to pursue a masters degree in Sustainable Communities, with a focus in flood resiliency. In my free time, I like to garden and dance. My greatest obstacle is in understanding how to prioritize my goals in life, and coming to terms with the fact that life is never easy, but it only gets harder if you let it get to you. 

Fabienne Lescouflair

fabienne lescouflair

Academic Counselor (GA), TRIO SSS/MSW Graduate Student

I struggled my senior year of high school after my parents divorced. I began to have truancy issues, which led to the counselor calling me a "lost cause". I decided to prove her wrong and do better for myself. I worked hard to graduate, even though it was a year later than my anticipated graduation date. I moved on to a 2-year college and was the first in my immigrant family to receive a degree. Transferred to a 4-year college for my Bachelor's and now I am pursing my Master's Degree. Anything is possible, even if others don't believe in you. All you need to do is believe in yourself.

Hal Lewis

hallewis

Associate Professor, Systems Science and Industrial Engineering

I was a local student here at Binghamton as well as 1st generation. I graduated HS (Susquehanna Valley) in 1974, and immediately enrolled on this campus with the benefit of a Regents Scholarship, majoring in math. I graduated in 1977 and went to Japan to work in industry there. I came back to this area during the 1980s working in local industry while doing part-time graduate studies. In 1990, I went back to Japan again to teach at Fukushima University, and in 1998 got a chance to come back to Binghamton in a faculty role. I love teaching and I love mentoring students. Feel free to contact me especially if you are a local and/or 1st gen. student.

Edward Lopez

edward lopez

Director of IT & DevOps

My parents never finished high school because of the Great Depression and WW2. I went to NYC schools in the 70s when the city was broke. I relied on my local library for all kinds of books to read and learn about the world and history. When I first got to Binghamton I struggled with culture shock of Binghamton but also my peers from suburban lifestyles. I had difficulty navigating the system when I was locked of required classes.I was afraid to ask for help and felt different. I am also first generation from Spain so not really Spanish because I was not fluent in spanish and not really american because of cultural differences. It was a tough time for me but also very big personal growth time..I am now successful engineer at emerging technical startups in Silicon Valley. I owe so much of my success to my time at Binghamton.

Patricia Lorquet

patricia lorquet

Doctor of Pharmacy (Pharm.D) Candidate 2023

I'm currently a P1 at Binghamton University School of Pharmacy. I attended University at Buffalo and obtained a Bachelors in Biological Sciences. I am the first in my family to graduate college as well as pursue a Doctorate degree. I am originally from New York City and I am very involved in the running community there. I am a youth running coach with New York Road Runners where I mentor college-bound high school seniors to run their first 5K (3.1 mile) road race. A fun fact is I have ran from San Francisco, CA to Brooklyn, NY to benefit the Ulman Foundation, a direct services organization supporting young adults with cancer. 

Stacy Marrow

stacy marrow

Director, CCPA Career and Professional Services, College of Community and Public Affairs

I started Binghamton University as a Colonial and graduated as a Bearcat! College was more than hard to navigate with no frame of reference; I had no idea what to do, and failed abysmally. I had to figure it out on my own with no support, and missed many opportunities because I simply had no idea they existed. Supporting First Gen students in any way I can is top priority for me for the reasons I just mentioned. I hope I can use all I learned in my struggles to help students avoid some obstacles. Something fun, or at least kind of unique about me is that I have seen every single episode of Law and Order SVU at least once. I look forward to connecting.

Jason Marshall

jason marshall

Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellow, School of Management (SOM) 

I am currently a Clifford D. Clark Diversity Fellow and PhD Student in the School of Management. Prior to this, I served six years as a police officer for the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians, started and ran two small (but profitable) consulting businesses, taught college courses on leadership, management, and digital marketing at Western Kentucky University, and had a lot of fun in the process. Each of these experiences has helped shape who I am today; however, none of them defines who I will be in the future. Throughout this journey, I have worked with thousands of people in a variety of contexts and learned from each endeavor. Maybe my experiences, failures, life lessons, and successes have given me some "wisdom" that I can share. If you think engaging with me might help in some way, please feel free to reach out...I would love to chat!  

Wendy Martinek

wendy martinek

Professor, Political Science

I received my BA in government and philosophy at Lawrence University. Though I am grateful for the opportunities I had there, my socio-economic background (I was poor) compared to that of my peers (they were definitely not poor) made me feel like a fish out of water. After working for several years in unsatisfying jobs, I started graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. I ultimately earned my MA in political science there (despite not really knowing what I was doing) and then transferred to Michigan State (where I found my passion for studying law and courts) for my PHD. I love hunting for treasures at thrift stores and flea markets (especially vintage travel maps and pamphlets), adore my great nephew and two great nieces (who are the absolute loves of my life), and am a diehard fan of my native state of Wisconsin (yes, I am a cheesehead).

Katelan Martinez

katelan martinez

Assistant Residential Coordinator, Residential Life

My father never graduated from high school so being the first one to graduate from high school was a big deal in my family. In my undergrad, I went to Penn State University where I got my bachelor's degree in Literature. My time at Penn State was spent being on the swim team, working multiple student affairs offices, and reading. I am a graduate student now, studying for my Master in Student Affairs and Master in Public Administration. I will graduate next year. Being the first-generation college student can be difficult at times but having tenacity and motivation to pursue my dreams is what keeps me going every day.

Brendan McGovern

brendan mcgovern

Program Coordinator, Geography

I was born in Queens. Bartended during high school and then bought into a local bar on the Queens / Nassau County border while also working as a journalist, writing and editing local newspapers. As I neared 30 years, I knew that wanted more out of life so I went back to school, double majoring in Philosophy and Geography at SUNY Cortland. I was recruited by Binghamton University Geography in 2006, received my MA and have never left. Binghamton University has been good to me. I love working here and have been fortunate to make terrific friends on campus.

Ryan Mead

ryanmead

Coordinator of Academic Support Services, Educational Opportunity Program

I was born and raised in the small village of Livingston Manor located in upstate NY. I was never supposed to go to college, but instead join the military. After suffering some health issues, I wasn't able to enlist and I decided to enroll in my local community college. It was there that I was exposed to a much larger world than the one I knew and it was there that I began pursuing larger dreams that only a college career could fulfill. After a lot of years, and some breaks in between, I was able to obtain my PhD in Sociology. While I currently work as the coordinator of academic support services for the Educational Opportunity Program, I am still an avid learner, reading anything that interests me at the moment, and I still teach a course in Sociology at the community college that gave me my start.

Ann Merriwether

ann merriwether

Instructor, Psychology

I come from a long line of people who were florists and gardeners, and they gave me a love of nature.  My parents owned a thriving greenhouse business and florist shop in Malvern Pennsylvania. They wanted all their children to go to college and become whatever they wanted to become.  I earned my BA, MA and PhD from Penn State, all in psychology, after beginning my academic study in animal science.  I’m now an instructor at Binghamton University for the Department of Psychology.  I’m also affiliated with Women Gender and Sexuality Studies and the University Presidential Scholars program.  I do research on sexual socialization and reproductive health attitudes and enjoy working with other colleagues and students here at Binghamton.  I love teaching and teach everything from large introductory courses to small seminars.  My courses cover the topics of gender, sex, birth and death. I retained my interest in animal science and agriculture.  My husband (also a Binghamton faculty member) and I bought a farm in Vestal New York in 2002.  When not teaching or doing research, I love working on the family alpaca and sheep farm with my husband, two daughters, Kenni and Helen and the family dogs. I’m still very passionate about nature and gardening. 

Jessica Midyette

jessica midyette

Academic Counselor, TRIO Student Support Services

I am a native of the area, I graduated right from Binghamton High School. I moved on to getting my bachelor degree from the University at Buffalo. I double majored in Psychology and African American Studies. Even though my father graduated with a B.S in Accounting from Binghamton University, applying and attending college for me was a HUGE learning experience. I could not have completed college without the assistance and support I received from UB's EOP program. Currently, my father and I are the only people in our family who have successfully completed 4 yr degrees, and I am the first to obtain a Master's.

Amanda Minaker

amanda minaker

Doctoral Student, TLEL

I am currently researching resilience in low SES communities, particularly surrounding adolescent student motivation. I started as a GED student from a nearby town, went to a community college at age 19 and now have earned a BFA, and M.Ed., MA and an M.Ed.L.

Matt O'Ryan

matt oryan

Academic Advisor, Harpur Academic Advising

Hi there! My name is Matt O'Ryan! I use he/him/his pronouns, and I am a proud Binghamton alum and first-generation college student! I transferred to Binghamton in my junior year, and graduated with my BS in Human Development. I then continued at Binghamton to get my Master's degree in Student Affairs Administration. I love playing video games, hanging out with my family, and spending time interacting with the many students that come through our doors at Harpur Academic Advising! I am excited to work with first-gen students at Binghamton, and would be happy to help you acclimate to this new environment, and navigate the numerous opportunities you have in front of you!

Sha-Niyah Ortiz

sha-niyah ortiz

MSW Graduate Student, CCPA- Social Work

I'm the first in my family to go to college and the first in my entire family (both immediate and extended) who will have a master's degree. My undergraduate experience was a complete roller coaster. I was on academic probation two times, and at one point was academically dismissed from college. I had a numerous amount of support from the EOP department and fellow professors which allowed me to get re-admitted, and with a lot of support and determination, I was able to graduate with my bachelor's degree, and now I am a graduate student. I'm extremely passionate about helping/mentoring underrepresented, low-income, first-generation students and I am also very passionate about helping students bounce back from any failures and tribulations that they may experience in college.  

Kirsten Pagan

kirstenpagan

B-Engaged Platform Coordinator, Student Affairs Assessment & Strategic Initiatives (SAASI)

Kirsten began her undergraduate studies in theatre with a focus on acting and concluded them in four years with a BA in psychology and a minor in theatre arts. Her current professional/academic interests include "high-impact (educational) practices." Related interests include data visualization and communication, exemplified through artfully-constructed presentation slides, infographics, and easily-digested executive summaries. Her hobbies span the creative spectrum and currently include making crochet jewelry, hand-lettering, and participating in local cosplay events. As a student, she embraced the perspective that the college years were simply the means to an end and failed to see the value of extra- or co-curricular pursuits. As a student affairs professional, however, she endorses a holistic approach toward each individual's self-actualization.

Maggie Parker

maggie parker

Graduate Research Assistant/Teaching Assistant, Psychology, Clinical Science

I am the first and only of my family who was fortunate enough to attain a higher education. I attended a local community college for one-year to save money and then transferred to the local University (Binghamton University) to save even more money on my undergraduate degree. I worked part and/or full time jobs throughout college to help fund my education and relied heavily on state aid and/or scholarships to make up the difference. On a more academic and emotional note, throughout my undergraduate career, I relied heavily on internet searches, older peers/co-workers, and the members of the research labs I worked in to understand how college worked and what I needed to do in order to succeed in a University setting. I recognize the importance of a good mentor and the true value it can have on not only your academic success but your personal wellbeing as well.
I am now a 3rd year student in the Clinical Science PhD program here at Binghamton who studies predictors of sexual assault and intimate partner violence under the supervision of Dr. Richard Mattson. 

Peter Partell

peter partell

Associate Dean, Academic Affairs & Administration, Thomas J. Watson School of Engineering & Applied Science

Lived at home and commuted to Buffalo State and I worked part-time at a lumber yard all through college.. I planned to be a high school Social Studies teacher. But I decided I wanted to be a "college teacher" and so I thought I'd continue on to graduate school. I really had no idea what was involved. Hobbies are playing volleyball and attending to my rose garden. Interests are politics and ice hockey.  

Beth Polzin

beth polzin

Program Coordinator, TRIP

While growing up, I spent time with my uncle and godfather, who held a PhD in Psychology, and I knew that his and my mother’s father held a BA. But this was not the case with my parents. My father had a high school education and a good career job with a pension. My mother was an RN (registered nurse). She had wanted to accomplish this goal through a BA degree earned in another city, but her parents ultimately required her to attend the local teaching hospital instead.

One word that describes my higher educational experience was a sense of isolation. One can be a good student and still be rather limited in one’s abilities for navigating that education experience. Several faculty members served as important mentors for me. In the sea of excellent students that is college (so unlike high school), their attention meant a great deal. Their belief increased my confidence and showed me directions that my future could take.

Jazmine Powell

jazmine powell

Academic Counselor, TRIO Student Support Services

I was born and raised in Binghamton, NY. For the first two years of undergrad I went to SUNY Delhi where I majored in Liberal Arts. My Mom encouraged me to become a nurse or a doctor, a career that would make me a lot of money. I transferred to SUNY Oneonta where I majored in Biology with a concentration in pre-health. I was somewhat interested in the material, but was not passionate about it. After that semester I transferred to SUNY Broome and that Fall was accepted into Binghamton University where I majored in Human Development. Finally I found my fit, I found something I was passionate about and was excited to explore. As part of the Human Development program you must complete a practicum. I chose Liberty Partnerships Program at Binghamton High School, an opportunity program I was a part of. Providing support services to high school students to ready them for higher education or the workplace inspired me to seek out similar environments. To do this, I decided to get my MS in Student Affairs Administration at Binghamton and applied to be a Graduate Assistant for TRIO Student Support Services, where they provide support to first-generation, low-income students and students with disabilities. I loved the students and staff so much I stayed for two years as their GA and became an Academic Counselor when I graduated in May of 2019. A fun fact about me is I've travelled to China and England and hope to visit many more countries in the future. I enjoy reading and spending time with my family.

Kathryn Przybysz

kathryn pryzbysz

PhD Candidate, Behavioral Neuroscience

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Buffalo State College, and am currently a PhD candidate in Behavioral Neuroscience studying the long-term effects of prenatal alcohol exposure on social behavior and neurophysiology. I was the first person in my family to complete a Bachelor’s degree and am the first to pursue a graduate degree. I am also the only one in my family involved in academic life in a STEM field, which has provided its own unique challenges. All of these areas have each provided their own obstacles to me as a first-generation individual, and while difficult, I think these experiences have been immensely valuable to me. Especially now as I near the end of my PhD, I can see how navigating undergraduate, graduate school, and academia by building my own professional network to guide me has been critical to my development as a scientist and has given me the confidence to believe in my own success. Because of my experiences, I now have a passion for mentorship and a desire to help those who need to build a support network and provide guidance to those navigating their own higher education journey. 

Josh Reno

josh reno

Associate Professor, Anthropology

I grew up with parents who valued higher education but were unable to complete it for themselves. My father eventually went back to school, while working full-time. I loved college and always loved to write but had to adopt new role models in order to imagine that I could one day be a professor and a writer. I benefitted from amazing instructors and mentors as an undergrad who helped me to feel at home in a world that was new to me. I’ve now written two books and am working on third and fourth. I dedicated the second to my parents.

Christina Ritter

christina ritter

Executive Assistant - Council for Advancement and Support of Education, Washington DC

Originally from Vestal, NY, she graduated from Binghamton University in 1999 with a BS in Applied Social Science from the School of Education and Human Development. Ms. Ritter lived in Dickinson Community throughout her tenure as an undergraduate student and received the Distinguished Service Award during the Dickinson Commencement Ceremony. She held various positions in Dickinson Town Council, was a Resident Assistant and an Orientation Advisor. After attaining her master’s degree in College Student Personnel Administration at Canisius College in Buffalo, she returned to Binghamton University as Resident Director of College-in-the-Woods and Hinman College for four years until relocating to Northern Virginia.
Ms. Ritter’s professional experience also includes management positions in Housing and Residence Life at George Mason University, serving as on-site Assistant Property Manager with AvalonBay Communities, as Executive Assistant to a county supervisor in Fairfax County, Virginia and at the American Council on Education, the nation’s largest coordinating body for higher education. She is currently Executive Assistant to four Vice Presidents at the Council for Advancement and Support of Education located in Washington, DC.
Ms. Ritter was a member of the Binghamton University Alumni Board of Directors from 2013-2019 and is chair of the DC Metro Chapter of the Binghamton University Alumni Association. She resides in Arlington, Virginia.

Nicole Rouhana

nicole rouhana

Asst. Professor-Director of Graduate Nursing, Decker School of Nursing

I am an FNP and Nurse Midwife. I started my education at a community college 38 years ago and am now the Director of the Graduate Nursing Department. I am passionate about caring for underserved and rural families. My educational journey was over a lifetime as I consider myself to be a life long learner. I want to help you be the best professional you were meant to be!

Myra Sabir

myra sabir

Associate Professor, Human Development

I've always been interested in ultimate questions. My undergraduate degree was in philosophy, which served me well until it didn't anymore. I grew up in the Bible-belt South, but since no one would engage around the ultimate questions they purported to answer, I went to Candler School of Theology/Emory University to engage them there. That served me best by leading me to the study of human development (PhD, Cornell University) - the farther reaches of human nature, the best we can achieve in ourselves and in family and community life. I now enjoy continuing growth as a narrative psychologist/intervention researcher helping others to uncover clues in their personal life stories for how to proceed toward this end.

I am one of 11 children, the middle child with all the typical middle-child characteristics, from southern Alabama. I have been fortunate in making a career of my passion for human flourishing, using a narrative self-analysis process called Life Writing. I love cooking and interior decorating and entertaining; fitness; hanging out in nature. I look forward to meeting you!

Daryl Santosdarylsantos

Professor and Vice Provost, Systems Science and Industrial Engineering

Technically, I wasn't the first (but was in the first generation) in my family to attend. My older siblings also graduated college. I'm the first to attend college away from home and the first to obtain MS and PhD degrees. I was able to fund college, in part, due to an access program similar to our EOP program. I love to boat, fish, shoot pool, and garden/yardwork.

Erica Sausner

erica sausner

STEM Education Researcher, SUNY Research Foundation/Center for Learning and Teaching

I grew up in Western New York, as the youngest of 11 children. After earning my BA from SUNY New Paltz and working for a few years, I joined the US Peace Corps and served for two years in Panama. When I returned to the US I began my PhD path at Penn State and graduated with a dual-title degree in Educational Theory & Policy and Comparative & International Education. Through domestic and international work my research focuses on the relationships between educational policy and marginalized students. As a first-generation college student I was definitely out of my depth and comfort zone at Penn State. I hadn’t asked the right questions before applying or found a mentor to guide me. Despite the financial and emotional challenges of the grad school and entering the academic job market, I am proud that I lived my values throughout these processes. Now that I’m in a solid place, professionally, I’m excited to have more time and energy for what makes me feel most like myself: being nerdy, cooking, baking, yoga...and some new adventures that are still TBD!

Israel Silva

israel silva

Resident Director, Residential Life

I graduated from Binghamton University in 2016 with a degree in Human Development and a minor in Education. While at Binghamton, I was involved with the Latin American Student Union, where I held the positions Fundraiser, Educational Coordinator, Political Correspondent, and Treasurer. I was also involved with the Education Minor Steering Committee, the Dean’s Team, and worked in the Undergraduate Admissions office as well as the University Union. I received my masters in Higher Education Administration from Stony Brook University in 2018 where I worked in residential life, and graduate school admissions. 

Jordan Smith

jordansmith

Career Consultant Assistant in Residence, Fleishman Center for Career and Professional Development

My undergraduate pathway had several paths, including 5 different major switches. Following graduation, I realized that I didn't know what I actually wanted to do with my degree (B.A. in Psychology), and struggled with transitioning after college. I was fortunate that my network reached out and gave me the support I needed to get myself back on track. When I started graduate school, I utilized the Career Services Office right away and not only did I develop the career skills I was lacking, I fell in love with the field! Now as a Career Consultant, my personal mission is to guide others on reaching a path that utilizes their unique strengths and interests so that I see everyone I coach making impacts in the areas that are meaningful to them. When I'm not working, you can find me playing volleyball or walleyball, eating at various restaurants with friends, and gardening.

Kelli Smith

kellismith

Assistant Vice President for Student Success, Student Affairs

While we have students that have faced and overcome greater struggles than myself, being the first in my family to graduate from college, I understand first-hand the struggle of having to find my own way and to not have the social structure of support to navigate the college experience. My father, a railroad worker, died tragically when I was just a few months old, and my mother, a secretary, did the best she could to support me. But I came from a family with great dysfunction and my undergraduate college experience changed my life. I attribute the vast majority of who I am today as a person, community member, and professional to that experience. Therefore, one of my greatest passions is to help other first-generation students understand there are resources and people to support them, and to understand it pays to aim high. I am proud to have earned three degrees in three different disciplines, including a PhD, financially on my own and have a successful career that I love in higher education balanced with a wonderful family. I know it would not have been possible without those faculty, administrators, and mentors that supported me along the way. Therefore, I love to pay it forward by helping our own first-generation students.

Virginia Stevervirginiastever

Assistant to the Chair, Economics

Because my parents did not want me to go to college I was determined to go. So I did. It was tough but worth it. I first went to SUNY Albany and worked 15 hours at my work study job in the art gallery and 20 hours a week at the Albany Student Press. When my financial aid did not come through on time I moved back home but finished up my degree at SUNY Stony Brook. And now 33 years later I will be completing my MPA in Spring 2019 here at Binghamton University. Anything is possible!

Lisa Theo

lisatheo

Research and Scholarship Advisor/Adjunct Instructor, External Scholarships and Undergraduate Research Center/Environmental Studies

I held a number of public service positions and started two home businesses before entering academe. I managed women’s clothing stores, managed a U.S. Senate campaign and ran for state senate, served as a legislative aide to a state senator, worked in food service, ran a home childcare business, and had a home business designing and constructing original wedding gowns and bridal accessories. My husband and I have been married nearly 34 years and we have three adult sons. He lives in Wisconsin, but he will soon retire and join me and my Black Lab "Buckshot" in New York. When a professor, my research focused on race, class, ethnicity, sexuality, gender and land use conflicts at the urban/rural fringe. AND - I AM A HUGE GREEN BAY PACKER FAN!

Cherie van Putten

cherie van putten

Instructional Designer, Center for Learning and Teaching

Although my father was a college graduate, I got little guidance from him when I struggled in college. I had to navigate the switching of majors and dealing with the emotional fall-out on my own. I received a BS in Marketing from Penn State and later a Master's in Adult Education. I want to help others learn from my experiences and what I have learned through my studies. My hobbies are shuttling my 16 year old daughter to school and extracurricular events and riding/training horses. Along with my daughter and husband, my family consists of 1 horse, 3 ponies, 3 dogs, and 2 barncats.

Cassandra Wentzel

cassandra wentzel

Research and Scholarship Advisor, External Scholarship and Undergraduate Research Center

Cassandra is a Research and Scholarship Advisor with the External Scholarship and Undergraduate Research Center at Binghamton University. She had a dual role by working with the Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Achievement Program (McNair Scholars Program). Cassandra’s experiences with being a first-generation and low income allowed her to fit uniquely within this role.
Cassandra has a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point in Human Geography and is completing her Masters of Arts from the University of Delaware in Human Geography. This educational path, opened the door to help assist her students in both spaces with all things research.

Coda Winters

coda winters

Graduate Assistant, Graduate Student, New Student Programs

My mom only had an Associate's degree from our local community college. I had pretty high grades in high school and students above a certain GPA could go to the local community college for free. I debated going down that path first and then to transfer on to a Bachelor's degree, but my mom told me that if I had done that, I would not go on to get my Bachelor's. So I went to SUNY Potsdam for my four years, teaching myself how to college the whole time, even still today. I graduated in 2018, took a year off, worked at a call center, and then came here to Binghamton University to complete a Master's degree. I ended up changing my major and minor three times, but I'm glad I landed in Women's and Gender Studies with my minor in Linguistics. I hope to go on to tackle Linguistics again - it's a very interesting field!

Maxine Wright

maxine wright

Case Manager, Dean of Students

My name is Maxine and I came from Jamaica when I was only 15 years old. A year into high school I had to navigate the college application process. It was difficult, as my parents were also new to the US and had no idea how to help me.Through mentors and dedicated teachers, I was able to secure a spot at Binghamton University. Figuring out where you belong and how to fit in was always a struggle. Developing the confidence to advocate for myself was difficult but here I am choosing a profession that seeks to help others.

I love traveling and have been to 45 of the 50 United States. I also enjoy gardening, going to the movies and quilting.

One mantra I live by is "the race is not for the swift, you just need to get to the finish line".

Ryan Yarosh

ryan yarosh

Senior Director of Media and PR, Communications and Marketing

Public relations professional with 20 years of experience in media relations, issues management, social media and video, including fifteen years in higher education. Areas of expertise include strategic communications planning, brand messaging, media training and issues management. Proficient at working independently or collaboratively; adept at working with diverse groups ranging from students to faculty to senior leaders/administrators.

Alexia Yue

alexia yue

Graduate Student

California born and bred, my academic career began in the heart of the central valley attending UC Merced. Graduating with a B.S. in Developmental Biology and a few years of industry experience from a startup company in the Bay Area, I packed two suitcases and came to New York to research alcoholism in iPSC-derived cardiomyocytes. However, the path from A to B was never clear or straightforward. Pursuing a goal beyond what my parents or immediate relatives achieved is a journey that I attribute to the support of advisers and friends I met along the way. Swapping life experiences and obtaining these small nuggets of wisdom gave me the assurance that pursuing dreams could evolve into a real career. The best piece of advice I can give to fellow first gen-ers is live in the moment. Enjoy the time you spend- doodle in notebooks, binge all the Netflix dramas, and eat nauseating amounts of tacos or donuts. And stop worrying about the “what ifs”- never be afraid of the unknown, own it.