SUNY Adirondack Alumni Association
Interview with Becki Cramer, SUNY Adirondack Class of 2013, and Director of Communications at the New York State Recreation and Parks Society, based in Saratoga Springs. - "I learned that I could learn how to do things."
Becki Cramer, ’13, is a Saratoga County native and Director of Communications for the New York State Recreation and Parks Society, a non-profit organization based in the Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs, NY. The NYSRPS promotes quality recreation and park opportunities for New Yorkers through education, training, and technical assistance for local and state governments.
Becki Cramer, Class of 2013
Becki is responsible for the group’s promotion, outreach and marketing strategies for programs, services, publications, and membership relations, development and retention.
A graduate of South Glens Falls High School, Becki was a stay-at-home mom and came to SUNY Adirondack as a returning adult student. She earned a Communication and Media Arts Certificate at SUNY Adirondack and was the student speaker at the college’s commencement ceremony in 2013.
We spoke to Becki by phone during a typically busy day in late September.
Q: What brought you to SUNY Adirondack?
A: I went through a divorce – a major change in my life – and I needed a way to support myself. I raised two sons and I was a stay-at-home mom for all those years. I was employed as a trainer for people with traumatic brain injuries and focused specifically on communications disorders. I needed to change the direction in my life and so I enrolled in the Media Arts program at SUNY Adirondack.
As I progressed through the program, I discovered I had the ability to learn things that were hard and complicated. I was not computer savvy at first and could do nothing on the computer, but I learned that I could learn how to do things.
Q: Was there anyone here who inspired you and challenged you to grow?
A: Kevin Ankeny (the director of the radio/television program) is an awesome guy. I learned a lot in his Mass Communications classes and learned a lot about video and audio production. I’m getting ready to produce webinars for the Society, and his video production classes paved the way for that success. A lot of what I learned came from him.
Nick Paigo (the Technology Division chair and graphic arts professor) helped me learn about Adobe products, and I’m using that education in editing publications and the Society magazine.
(English professor) Lale Davidson was instrumental as well: I took a speech class from her and she gave me the confidence to talk to our membership and visit with our patrons.
I remember my time at SUNY Adirondack as being a great time. The students, the teachers – I have nothing but fond memories at SUNY Adirondack. I’m very grateful for the experience I had.
Q: How did you come to join the Recreation and Parks Society?
A: I saw a job posting for Director of Communications and thought it was a perfect blend for both my old and newly acquired skills. I loved being outdoors and the position aligned with my values. It was an agency I felt good about and promoting.
We think it’s important to include everyone in thinking about the use of green space. We want to redefine what ‘recreation’ means; it’s not just about sports. We strengthen communities by giving people the ability to recreate together.
I feel honored to be a paid staff person with this organization. People here are committed to doing what they can to bring health and wellness values to parks and recreation areas. I’m excited to be part of an organization where people are committed to promoting positive change in their communities through recreation.
I want to keep growing and learning. I’ll stay here as long as I can continue to grow and be challenged.
Q: Given budget considerations and space limitations, how are local governments addressing the need for green space and other parks and recreation opportunities?
A: Recreation and parks departments are becoming more innovative in reaching out to bring people together. For example, we are bringing more art and theater offerings to parks. Parks appeal to a broad variety of people and we want to appeal to a different demographic, and not the ones we normally appeal to. At some point, we realize how vital green space is to the health of communities. We’re moving towards the point where doctors will write prescriptions for people to get outdoors into the green space for their health and well-being.
Q: What concerns you about the future of parks and recreational areas?
A: My main concern is that recreational areas and parks will not receive the attention or value they deserve from municipalities, and that the responsibility for recreation in of some of the green space areas will be shifted over to the municipal Department of Public Works. When municipalities look to cut costs, parks and recreation budgets are the first places to be cut, and most parks and rec budgets are operating on a shoestring anyway. Most parks and recreation jobs are not considered civil service job, and those jobs are gone in a minute.
Generally speaking, DPW crews can make the areas safer and the departments are concerned with safety, but there’s more to recreation than just keeping parks safe. A certified recreational professional brings a lot to the table and can enhance and engage the community.
Q: What other obstacles did you have to overcome to get to where you are today?
A: It took me two years to complete my Communication and Media Arts certificate. I call it my “ABM Degree”: All But Math. I am a numerical dyslexic – my condition is called dyscalculia and it’s a learning disability. I am proficient with words, but numbers float around in my head. I have difficulty with spatial relationships and can’t express in numerical terms just how far away things are. I can’t organize sequences of numbers in my mind. But that’s okay because I am very proficient in working with words.
Q: What’s next for you, personally or professionally?
A: If I could wave a magic wand, I’d see myself on the Outer Hebrides (an island northwest of Scotland), working on a photo journalism book. Part of the goal of my going back to school was to become a better photographer.
I’d like to study the traditional crofting lifestyle there – sustenance farming. It’s a lifestyle that’s disappearing, but it’s been in existence for hundreds of years.
Q: Lastly, what’s your favorite form of recreation?
A: I like being outdoors in the woods with my camera. And I like canoeing. My favorite lake is the next little lake I discover.
(This story was published October 14, 2014.)
Interview with Steve Mann, SUNY Adirondack Class of 1992 and PGA Head Professional at Wollaston Golf Club, Milton, MA - "I feel blessed and fortunate to make a living in and around this sport."
Steve Mann, Class of 1992, is entering his 14th season as the PGA Head Professional at Wollaston Golf Club in Milton, Massachusetts. On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of SUNY Adirondack’s Lyman A. Beeman, Jr., Golf Tournament on Friday, May 30, at Hiland Golf Club in Queensbury, Steve will return to the area to give players a free short game clinic on the practice green near the 1st tee from 11 a.m. to noon.
Steve Mann, Class of 1992
Steve earned an associate degree in business administration and marketing from SUNY Adirondack in 1992, but did not play on the college golf team: he was a golf professional by that time and was ineligible to make the team. He grew up in Queensbury and now lives in Metro West Boston with his wife Glenna and children Tyler and Brooke.
We spoke with Steve by phone during a typically busy day in mid-April:
Q: When were you aware that golf was going to play a huge part in your life?
A: I was introduced to golf at the age of six by my father and cousin. I got my first golf lesson from Tom Haggerty, the Head Pro at Glens Falls Country Club. Haggerty, along with longtime Head Pro Tom Smack at The Sagamore Resort, were the two professionals I looked up to. Everyone I’ve worked with in the business has inspired me in some way. I feel blessed and fortunate to make a living in and around this sport.
My first professional job was as assistant pro at the Country Club of Troy. I took a number of assistant jobs after that and finally became the first PGA Head Professional at Olde Kinderhook Golf Club in Kinderhook, NY. That was a great job because I absorbed a lot of knowledge about golf course design and routing of the golf course, and it helped me in my next job at Wollaston.
Q: Have you played with any current touring pros?
A: When I worked at Pine Valley Golf Club in New Jersey and Wannamoisett CC in Rhode Island, Billy Andrade and Brad Faxon would come in and give clinics and do fundraisers. I’ve been blessed to play a few rounds with a number of pros celebrities. I played with Ian Baker-Finch, who is now a golf commentator for CBS and won The British Open Championship back in 1991. I’ve been able to play a number of great courses around the world including Augusta National, Pebble Beach, Cypress Point, Seminole & Ballybunion. I’m headed back to Augusta in October, and it really is a special place. I’m extremely thankful to be able to play some fantastic courses due to the relationships I have made in the golf industry.
Q: You are going to be hosting a short game clinic at the Lyman A. Beeman Tournament here on May 30. What’s the one piece of instruction you pass on to most of the amateurs who attend your clinics?
A: If you are going to improve your game, you need to invest the time and the hard work. Golf is a hard sport – it takes commitment and patience. But I always tell players that if you want to improve and shoot lower scores, you need to start at the hole and work back. Give some time to improve your putting, then work on chipping and pitching, then wedge shots. If a weekend player wants to lower his or her score, then that player needs to spend an equal amount of time or more on the short game than he or she would on hitting balls on the practice range. If you spend a half-hour hitting the driver, spend 45 minutes on putting and hitting pitches and chips and wedge shots from 100 yards in.
Q: Where is the game headed?
A: Well, we already have the attention of the guys – we need to focus on getting families, women and juniors to play more golf and have fun. That’s the future of the game and where our industry is focused currently.
Q: Has the change in equipment improved the game much for the average player? And how do those equipment changes impact the pro game? Pretty soon the anchored putters (long-shafted putters) will be outlawed on the PGA Tour.
A: The equipment is getting better. The improvement in woods and irons and hybrids have made average golfers better and made the game more fun for all. The long-shafted and anchored putters and belly putters are making the game enjoyable for the average players who have bad backs or the yips, for example. Freddie Couples has a bad back and struggles with the conventional size and style putter so he uses the belly putter. But the verdict is still out. As of January 1, 2016, anchored putters will be outlawed for the pros, and I’m sure there are a number of professional players now who will find different ways to adapt. A couple new things on the market are counter balanced putters and the popular Super Stroke oversized grip to minimize the hands and wrists during the putting stroke. I would hate to see Freddie or Bernhard Langer stop playing competitive golf because anchoring will be banned. That might be a hard pill to swallow for some players.
Q: As a golf professional, you must have helped many people find joy in the game. Do you have a favorite story about someone you tutored?
A: I have been teaching all level of players for numerous years. It is rewarding each day to watch golfers improve regardless of their current handicap. One student in particular who is also a good friend of mine qualified for the U.S. Senior Open at Inverness, Ohio, in 2011. He took up the game later in life nearing age 30. He made a commitment to improve and we worked intensely over a five to six year period and you have to do that to succeed. He asked me to caddie for him at the tournament and although he missed the cut, I believe he was oldest contestant in the field. It’s that sort of success from someone I’ve helped and shared knowledge with that really excites me.
(This story was published April 16, 2014.)
March 26, 2014 - Nursing alumni gather to discuss the possible creation of a Nursing Alumni Group
The SUNY Adirondack Foundation hosted a reception March 26 for all SUNY Adirondack Nursing Program alumni to discuss the creation of a Nursing Alumni Group. Sarah Ghent, Class of 1980, has taken up the cause and will coordinate the effort.
Trish Kelly, Class of 2010; Sarah Ghent, Class of 1980; and SUNY Adirondack Health Sciences Division Chair Donna Healy discuss the creation of a Nursing Alumni Group.
SUNY Adirondack Nursing Lab Coordinator Kathy Rittenhouse and Misty LaCross, Class of 2013, chat at the reception.
Interview with Sarah Ghent, SUNY Adirondack Nursing Class of 1980: "You have a good solid nursing education, and the professors and students both have a profound interest in excelling."
Sarah Ghent, Class of 1980, has spent most of her working life in the health care field after earning an associate degree in nursing from SUNY Adirondack. Now in what she calls “semi-retirement,” she’s taking on another task: spearheading an effort to create a SUNY Adirondack Nursing Alumni Group.
Sarah Ghent, Class of 1980
Sarah will be attending a Nursing Alumni Reception at the college on Wednesday, March 26, from 3:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. to gather information and feedback on what nursing alumni need and what programs they’d like to see implemented.
After earning her associate degree from SUNY Adirondack, Sarah served as an RN Cluster Leader and Associate Primary Care RN at Glens Falls Hospital. Her work has taken her from Staten Island, NY (where she and her husband Gary raised four children) to Albany, Schenectady and western New England with career stops at Staten Island University Hospital, MVP Healthcare, Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield, HIP of Greater New York, Bayley Seton Hospital on Staten Island, and most recently Mohawk Valley Medical Associates (MVMA) in Schenectady. Along the way she earned a BS in health and human services from Columbia Pacific University in San Rafael, CA.
She and her husband have seven grandchildren.
We spoke with Sarah during a recent visit to the SUNY Adirondack campus:
Q: Being raised downstate, how did you come to get your degree at SUNY Adirondack?
A: I began to pursue a career in business, but I became ill and was exposed to the health care field early on. That experience led me to become interested in nursing. After having four children, I went back to school and took part-time courses at City University of New York on Staten Island.
We moved around a lot because of my husband’s career, and we were looking for an opportunity to relocate. There was a question over whether my CUNY credits would transfer to SUNY Adirondack, but Gary said, “If you can transfer, we can move.” It worked out that the credits did transfer, and we moved to Hadley.
I finished my nursing degree at SUNY Adirondack and graduated in May of 1980. Dr. Peg Felmly was chair of the department at the time, and I thank her to this day for the opportunity. There was always a comfort level with her, even at that time. SUNY Adirondack offered a good solid nursing education, and the professors and students both had, and still have, a profound interest in excelling.
Q: Your career brought you to many different stops. Why did that appeal to you?
My career has offered me an opportunity to relocate and reinvent myself. In general, the health care field allows a person to fit in at different locations, whether it involves becoming a member of home care staff, developing quality improvement, undertaking utilization review or reviewing quality of care.
The stops along the way have been varied, but I never stopped learning, and that’s important. In this field, you learn through other people’s eyes. Any experience you have can teach you.
Q: What do you see as the future of nursing?
A: I think “specificity” is the key word. There are certifications for each area now. Much of the care is outpatient now, rather than inpatient care. Much of the health care field is becoming more technologically integrated. But skilled people are still needed to carry you through. As a patient, you can’t just rely on the computer. And if you are seeking employment in the field, the technology allows employees to become more mobile.
I think because of this, education requirements for nurses are increasing, and that’s why we’re excited about the 3+2 Bachelor’s Degree Option in nursing between SUNY Adirondack and the SUNY Plattsburgh Extension Center. It’ll soon be necessary for RNs to have bachelor’s degrees, and it’s great that we’re establishing a program here.
Q: Why do you think it’s important to establish a good connection between current nursing students and our nursing alumni?
A: I enjoy learning, and I enjoy learning from young people. It gives us the ability to interact and share knowledge, and we are able to teach each other. It’s all a learning process. If you are constantly learning, you are not becoming complacent.
At the (March 26 Career Day and Reception) I’ll be gathering as much information and I can.
Q: How has the health care field evolved during your career?
Well, we’ve gone from providing “medical care” to “health care.” Technology has changed the field and pharmaceuticals have changed the field. As I said, it’s all about specificity. It used to be that a physician or medical professional had an office staff of five or six people, but with all the specialties now, sometimes those staffs grow to 20 or 30 people.
The health care field has also opened up an opportunity for more people to find employment. There is a shortage of qualified physicians, and that has led a lot of nurses to seek careers as PAs (Physicians’ Assistants) or Nurse-Practitioners.
Q: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career as it progresses?
A: I think we have to continue to keep the Quality of Care Circle intact. That is, patients, physicians, insurers and health care providers need to be in the loop; we all need to be included in that tight circle.
(The above story was published February 21, 2014.)
Interview with Dennis Harris, Class of 1996 and Senior Engineer at Ball Aerospace: "You have a treasure in SUNY Adirondack."
Dennis Harris, Class of 1996, was, by his own words, “a state worker with no direction” when he enrolled at SUNY Adirondack in the early 1990s. His decision to go back to school came after several years working for the New York State Department of Developmental Services. His interest in astronomy led to his current position as a senior engineer at Ball Aerospace, where he and his team recalibrated and delivered the Solar Backscattering Ultra Violet instrument (SBUV/2), which monitors ozone levels in the atmosphere. Dennis established a scholarship through the SUNY Adirondack Foundation for returning adult students like himself.
Q: Did you grow up in the area?
A: No. My dad was in the Navy, so we lived all over the world – Southeast Asia, California, Alaska, and Colorado. I moved to upstate New York in 1986 and got a job as an aide at a facility for the developmentally disabled. After a few years of that, I had a life change and decided to go back to school. I didn’t know what I wanted to do but I had an interest in astronomy and science, and that led me to my current position.
Q: Was there any one person at SUNY Adirondack who had an influence on you and the direction you took?
A: Two people, actually. Jane Owen (a member of the counseling staff) and Rich Ring (professor of English at SUNY Adirondack) were my instructors in a College Survival course, a course for at-risk students. And I was high-risk – I was a returning adult student who had no idea of what he wanted to do. But they saved me. They showed me the door to the possibilities in life.
I graduated SUNY Adirondack in January of 1996 at the ripe old age of 37. I wound up going to The University at Albany and earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in physics, and then earned an MBA from the University of Phoenix.
Q: How did you get the job at Ball Aerospace?
A: I got it through networking with an engineer who was working at Ball. In 2004 I moved to Colorado and started working at Ball Aerospace. I worked for Raytheon in California for a while and then came back to Boulder to work with Ball in 2010, and I’ve been there ever since.
Q: What does a Solar Backscattering Ultra Violet Instrument do?
A: The monitoring system is attached to a NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) weather satellite and it measures ozone levels in the atmosphere. The layer protects the earth from the ultra-violet rays of the sun. It appears that the ozone holes in the atmosphere have gotten smaller over the last decade, due mainly to less CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) being released into the atmosphere. The ozone layer is thinner over the North and South Poles, and the layer grows and shrinks seasonally, which is a naturally occurring phenomenon.
I’m currently the integrated product team leader for the next generation of ozone measuring equipment called the Ozone Mapping Profiler Suite, or OMPS. The flight unit is flying on the SNPP (Suomi National Polar-Orbiting Partnership) spacecraft and was launched in October of 2011. The mission is to provide data continuity from previous efforts. This is very important to me personally.
Q: You established a scholarship for returning adult students at SUNY Adirondack through the college’s Foundation and you were back in town this year to meet with the two recipients. Why did you establish this scholarship?
A: I make yearly contributions to the Foundation, and it was split into two scholarships. I knew from personal experience how difficult it is to be a returning adult student, and I thought it was time to pay it back, to coin a phrase. I was the recipient of a scholarship as a returning adult student and it meant a lot to me.
I was really impressed with the Foundation’s ability to choose such deserving students for the scholarships, some good people who could use the help.
Q: It’s clear SUNY Adirondack had an indelible impact on your life.
A: I love the college. If I could get a job that contributed to the college, I’d be working there. You have a treasure there in New York in SUNY Adirondack. I am just very happy to contribute in any way I can.
(The above story was published December 17, 2013.)
DR. TED D. SPRING, SUNY ADIRONDACK CLASS OF '68, NAMED PRESIDENT OF CAPE FEAR COMMUNITY COLLEGE, WILMINGTON, NORTH CAROLINA
Dr. Ted D. Spring, a graduate of Indian Lake Central School and a SUNY Adirondack alumnus, has been appointed president of Cape Fear Community College in Wilmington, North Carolina.
Dr. Ted D. Spring, President, New River Community and Technical College, Beckley, West Virginia
The Cape Fear Community College Board of Trustees announced the appointment Oct. 2. Dr. Spring is expected to take office at CFCC sometime in November.
Cape Fear Community College is the fourth largest community college in North Carolina and enrolls over 31,000 students.
Dr. Spring is currently president of New River Community and Technical College in Beckley, West Virginia. According to a statement by the college, Dr. Spring has over 33 years of experience in college administration.
"Spring is a first generation college student and a graduate of a community college," the statement reads. "His career has taken him to nine states, multiple institutions of higher education and a variety of leadership positions."
Dr. Spring in the SUNY Adirondack 1968 SCOPE Yearbook.
Dr. Spring is a graduate of the SUNY Adirondack Class of 1968, where he earned an associate degree in business administration. He holds a bachelor's degree from Castleton State College, a master's degree in education from Bowling Green State University, and a doctorate from the University of Maryland.
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