Nick Paigo


"I am the first in my family to go to college. My parents supported and encouraged me to pursue a degree. My dad was a carpenter and was always telling me that he wanted me to use my brain for a career and not my hands, which was the path he took. He came from a generation where you needed to have a skill in life. I was always good with computers. I would get awards in middle school for being the fastest student to complete the math test on the computer, and during recess or study hall I was always going to the computer lab. I also loved art class and was always drawing something. I remember driving down Route 149 in a pick-up truck with my dad; we were talking ab out college and he looked at me and said: "Why don't you go to college for graphic design?" I was taken aback that I was given the greenlight. He didn't know what graphic design was really, and honestl y I didn't either. I just knew I wouldget to play with computers and draw at the same time!

In the end it was completely different than I thought it was going to be. It was about theory and practice, which is why I love it. Ironically, I got to learn a trade in the end because graphic design is hands on. I went to SUNY Oswego, it allowed for high-level learning but there was a lot of opportunity to build things. We didn't just hit print, we hand-assembled packages and projects. I started as an intern in the graphics lab at Oswego and stayed through my senior year. I had 6 computers that I had to monitor and make sure they were functioning in the first year and ended up managing the entire facility and the other interns.

My mentor, Cynthi a Clabough, was going on sabbatical right after I was graduating and asked if I wanted to be a graduate assistant to help oversee the facility while she was gone. Initially I said no because I thought I wanted to go Boston or New York City after graduation. My dad had just passed away at this point and I thought I needed a change, to start life somewhere new. However, the very next day was September 11, 2001, so on Sept. 12, I decided to take the grad assistantship. I said I only wanted to do this for the one semester while she was on sabbatical. I continued as lab manager and had to teach the lab management class to undergrads as well. Turns out I loved teaching. I decided that I wanted to become an art tea cher and worked toward my Master's in graphic design at the same time. I was student teaching for Oswego City Schools, moonlighting as an adjunct instructor at Bryant and Stratton and teaching a sum mer class at SUNY Oswego to build my experience.

I moved back to this area and started working at WSWHE BOCES. I taught their 9-10 graders in the morning and 11-12 graders in the afternoon. Then this job opened up at the college, Iapplied, and the rest is history. I remember getting asked in the interview why I wanted to teach here. At that point I had taught at a 4 year school, a technical sc hool, and in K-12. I was familiar with the kind of students who would be coming here and I was familiar with where they would be going. I wanted to be the guy in the middle. I know what students need to know to get where they want to go.

I've been here for 11 years, chair of the technology division for 7, and I've been one of the Media Arts Club advisors for the past 9 years -- and I've enjoyed it all.

I feel that my colleagues and I have truly been able to open up this program to the community. There are so many colleges in the area and beyond that teach graphic design but I want the community to know that you can get a quality education right here in your backyard. We are the best kept secret, only I don't want us to be a secret anymore.

Nick Paigo
Media Arts Faculty
Technology Division Chair
Media Arts Club Advisor