More than a quarter million students have passed through the doors
of Hudson Valley Community College since it first opened in 1953
in an old Troy shirt collar factory. In nearly 60 years, more than 65,000 students
have received degrees from the college.
In 2003, the college celebrated its 50th Anniversary by celebrating 50
of its graduates. A small number, to be sure, but a representative
sample of the accomplished, successful and intriguing people who
used Hudson Valley as a launching pad for their career. They started
here, but wound up in the most diverse and interesting places:
some expected, many unexpected.
These portraits provide a snapshot of the breadth and diversity
of our students: examples of the success stories this college helped
write. We hope that by celebrating these alumni, we are celebrating
all those who have come here in the past 50 years seeking a first-class
education, opportunities for success, and a stepping stone for an accomplished future.
Ted Adams '97
Chemical Dependency Counseling
College Prep, 1995
Ted Adams was one year into recovery and working as a part-time
waiter when he was referred to the Capital District Educational
Opportunity Center (EOC) by his counselor.
Ted knew he wanted to attend college but recognized his need to
build his skills and confidence. He started in the CDEOC's College
Prep Program in January 1995, proving himself to be a model student.
He entered Hudson Valley Community College in September 1995, to
study Human Services. He said he realized along the way that in
some shape or form, everyone's life is affected by some type of
chemical dependency, and he switched his studies to Chemical Dependency
A four-semester honor student, Adams was the recipient of a Second
Chance Scholarship and the Patty Walsh Scholarship, was selected
for Who's Who in American Two Year Colleges, and was inducted into
the Phi Theta Kappa honor society. He graduated in 1997 with an
impressive 3.98 average.
"There was a single one-credit course that I got a B in, and it
really humbled me," he said.
Adams took his Second Chance Scholarship with him to the University
at Albany, where he earned his bachelor's in social work in 2002.
Recently promoted to program manager at Hope House in Troy, Adams
supervises a staff of 13.
"These kids are great," he said. "I was probably drawn to the
field because I can assist in making changes to give them a better
chance." Similarly, he said the faculty at Hudson Valley and at
the EOC "were with me all the way.
"They were caring and empathetic and supportive, and they modeled
techniques that I use now in my work."
Also, Adams is firm in acknowledging the invaluable contributions
of his family and significant other, and their patience and understanding
while he pursued his educational goals.
Sheila McGrath Babbino '88
If there's a single word to describe Sheila McGrath Babbino, it
might be "indomitable."
Former Tulip Queen for the city of Albany, she graduated from
Hudson Valley's Human Services program just four short years after
sustaining severe head and spinal cord injuries in an auto accident.
She went on to earn a bachelor's degree and founded a head injury
"Everyone at Hudson Valley showed me the importance of reaching
out to people, and how much I myself could benefit from that. The
Center for Access and Assistive Technology at Hudson Valley was enormously helpful,
and I felt extremely supported there," said Babbino, who now works
to assist others in identifying their needs and in finding resources.
Babbino confessed she's cut down on her volunteer work. "Before,
I was active in the community," laughed the mother of two, "but
now I'm active in the PTA!"
Todd Bailey '96
Todd Bailey was studying for his bachelor's degree at MIT when
he realized the value of his earlier Hudson Valley education in
"I was the only transfer student from a community college accepted
at MIT that year. And I graduated on time, which isn't that common.
I attribute what I did to the teaching, and to the level and depth
of courses I took at Hudson Valley," he said recently from a lab
at University of Texas in Austin, where he completed his Ph.D.
degree requirements early this past summer. He had just accepted
a position with IBM Development in East Fishkill, NY.
Bailey had a couple of unsuccessful tries at college when he was
fresh out of high school. Later, at 26, he decided he needed more
intellectual challenge, and enrolled again at Hudson Valley.
"It gave me a lot of confidence, and a platform from which to
get a head start," he explained. "I get letters from MIT asking
for money, and I'm not yet in a position to donate. But if I were,
the first school to get my money would be Hudson Valley: if I hadn't
gone there, my life would be completely different."
Claudio Bazzichelli '96
Claudio Bazzichelli was flying executive jets in his native Italy
when he met his future wife, Allison, who had come to Rome to study.
He followed her to Clifton Park, and then decided to get an education
while he was here.
"Hudson Valley was the perfect match for me," he said from his
office in Manhattan, where he works as a financial services consultant
to banks and insurance companies.
As a student, though, he wanted engineering skills to combine
with his love of aviation, and he said he found a great faculty
to teach him at Hudson Valley.
"I found it extremely hard to get back to basic math, which had
been my strength, and maybe my English wasn't so good.," he said,
recalling as reasons why he "didn't quite" graduate with a 4.0
average. Still, his grades were high enough that his work was rewarded
with transfer acceptance to Cornell University, where he finished
requirements for a B.S. in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering
in just a year and half, receiving scholarships and grants that
made his education "almost free."
Today, Bazzichelli still flies for fun, and said Hudson Valley "gave
me the knowledge to go anywhere."
Brian Bradke '2001
An associate's degree in Engineering Science from Hudson Valley
already has taken Brian Bradke a long way: first it sent him "up
the hill" to RPI, where the Latham resident earned his bachelor's
in Biomedical Engineering. The two degrees and Bradke's hard work
then took him across the country to top-ranked Stanford University
in California, where he now studies toward his master's degree.
A Shaker High School grad and an Eagle Scout, Bradke enrolled
at Hudson Valley because, "I wasn't sure what I wanted to do, and
my parents didn't want to shell out $35,000 until I was certain."
His mother had earned her degree in business administration at
Hudson Valley, and she was a positive influence in the decision.
Today, Bradke is pleased he made Hudson Valley his first choice.
"I met best friends at Hudson Valley who transferred to RPI with
me, and we found we were really well prepared when we got there.
We were in small classes at Hudson Valley, and everyone was friendly,
and the teachers good," he said.
Chief lifeguard at Grafton Lakes State Park this past summer,
Bradke also worked at St. Mary's Hospital and was an EMT for the
town of Colonie during his undergrad years.
Gennady Bratslavsky, M.D. '94
Gennady Bratslavsky graduated from a three-year, pre-med and nursing
program at Kiev Medical School in the Ukraine in 1991, just before
his entire family immigrated to this country.
He had been accepted to a prestigious medical institute in the
former Soviet Union, but here in the U.S., because he spoke no
English, he was told by Albany Medical School to demonstrate that
he was capable of learning medicine in the language.
"I went to Hudson Valley initially out of necessity, but it turned
out to be excellent preparation for medical school for me," he
said. "We had lots of one-to-one time, and training in a medical
lab made me a more complete physician."
Bratslavsky had difficulty with his English classes at Hudson
Valley, but he made progress, graduated and transferred to Siena
and then Albany Med, graduating as an M.D. with Distinction in
Research. He is currently a third-year resident in urology at Albany
Medical Center. He met his wife, Katya, a respiratory therapist,
in Albany. In May, she gave birth to their first child: Michael
John Buono '68
Four years in the Air Force during the mid-1960s helped John Buono
focus on his future. Before that, in high school, he knew that
one day he would succeed at college, but the nuns wrote on his
report card, "John could do better if he opened a book."
He came home from the military and enrolled at Hudson Valley on
the GI Bill®, working construction on the side. He remembers he
had no idea what he wanted to do.
"I really didn't know where I was headed, but I was interested
in local government, and my dad was involved in local politics,
so I enrolled at Hudson Valley to study political science and history," he
Buono used money from savings bonds he had purchased while in
the military to buy a brand new '66 Ford Falcon (blue and white),
and he dreamed about playing baseball. He tried out for Hudson
Valley's team, pitching and playing infield, but left the team - and
that dream - for another when he married.
After completing his associate's degree at Hudson Valley, he transferred
to University at Albany, eventually earning his master's degree
in public administration there.
Now presiding over Hudson Valley's 50th Anniversary Celebration
as the college's fifth president, Buono said he didn't see a great
deal of student unrest during the 60s at Hudson Valley, but said
students and faculty had great discussions about the issues over
coffee, or maybe over a beer at the Grove.
A few years later, from 1979 through 1985, Buono became an instructor
at Hudson Valley, trying to show the same level of expertise in
teaching that he recalled from those who had taught him.
"Bill Keck, Frank Larose, Mrs. O'Brien and Mrs. Lemon. I remember
those folks here at Hudson Valley better than I remember my professors
in grad school; that's their impact on me. My Intro to Government
Politics class here prepared me for my career in public service,
and I'm doing exactly what I discovered I wanted to do."
Roderick W. Ciferri III '61
Roderick W. "Skip" Ciferri III had been accepted at RPI and Clarkson,
but really didn't want to go to college after graduating from high
school in Millbrook. He worked for a year, and then allowed himself
to be talked into enrolling at Hudson Valley, which at the time
was still in the old shirt factory in Troy, just a block from his
aunt's rooming house, where a number of RPI students took lodging.
"I rented a room from my aunt, and soon found that Hudson Valley
was a good place for me, and I kind of found my way after that," said
Ciferri, president of R.W. Ciferri, Inc., in Millbrook. "Most of
the students had been in the military, and they were serious about
studying, and so I was, too."
Ciferri graduated from the college's Construction Technology program,
and soon became a union brick layer. His career and capabilities
grew rapidly, and he was just 27 years old when he supervised construction
of Greenville High School for another contractor.
"It was sink or swim, and I learned," he said, remembering that
first major responsibility.
Ciferri's family had been in construction in Millbrook since 1906,
but Skip Ciferri wound up establishing his own corporation, separate
from theirs, and became contractor for a long list of high profile
buildings, including Hyde Park's Roosevelt High School, the St.
Columba Church in Hopewell Junction, the Ebenezer Baptist Church
in Poughkeepsie, and various projects at the Culinary Institute
A former elected building inspector and assessor, Ciferri has
been a member of the Dutchess County Republican Committee and Vice
Chairman of the town of Washington Republican Committee. He was
a trustee of St. Francis Hospital, and director of the Bank of
"I've been fortunate," Ciferri said, "and I know part of it is
because of my education."
John F. Clark '80
United States Marshal John F. Clark recently was appointed to
the post of Chief Deputy for the US Marshal's Eastern District
of Virginia, in Alexandria. His business card is embossed in gold,
with a large star-centered logo of the United States Marshal's
badge. He oversees all duties in a 55-person judicial district.
Clark said he was pleased to accept the appointment, but didn't
sound surprised: his goal was law enforcement when he first came
to Hudson Valley out of high school from Chatequgay, NY (close
to the Canadian border), enrolling in Criminal Justice. His brother
attended Hudson Valley before him, also majoring in Criminal Justice,
and now works for the U.S. Park Police in Washington.
Clark took the U.S. Border Patrol exam and earned a position on
the country's southern border (a culture shock, he admits), and
then moved on to the Capitol Police in Washington, studying part
time toward a bachelor's degree in his field. He joined the Marshal
Service in 1983, having first heard about it when a marshal spoke
to his class at Hudson Valley and sparked his interest.
"All the Criminal Justice profs were very interactive with the
students, and they invited speakers for us, and took us on trips
to expose us to programs," he said.
"For a beginning base, I couldn't have done any better," he said.
Also, he remembered working part-time with the grounds maintenance
department at Hudson Valley, "a great bunch of guys."
Clark teaches Sunday School and serves as a youth mentor in volunteer
programs. He lists Jesus Christ, along with his wife and parents,
as most important in his life.
Kenneth B. Colloton '74
An accounting degree from Hudson Valley Community College provided
the foundation for a globetrotting banking career that took Kenneth
Colloton around the world and back to his hometown.
Currently executive vice president in charge of Government Banking
for Fleet Bank, Colloton said he just wasn't ready for a four-year
college when he graduated from Columbia High School in East Greenbush.
Instead, he enrolled at Hudson Valley, worked summers at a bank
and at the YMCA in Albany during the school year.
"There's a big difference between an 18-year-old and a 20-year-old," Colloton
said, explaining of his success at Hudson Valley, and later at
York College, where he earned his bachelor's degree in accounting
and found his interest in management.
Positions at Banker's Trust in Albany and in its International
Division in NYC led to Colloton's lengthy banking assignments in
Rio de Janeiro and then in Hong Kong.
Returning to the US six years and two languages later, Colloton
jumped back into YMCA volunteer service, first chairing the Capital
District YMCA, and then joining the Board of the YMCA of USA in
Chicago. Currently chairperson for the Y-USA's Strategic Planning
Committee, Colloton also worked to bring the new Y to the Greenbush
"It's the fastest growing Y in the US," he said proudly.
Joe Condon '66
Joe Condon has talked to the people of the Capital Region for
40 years, and today his "top-40, Internet-only radio station" has
an audience of about a half-million.
"We're like cable TV was in the early 70s," he explained, "and
there's a need to educate the market."
Now in its fourth year, Condon's Internet station (www.Radioalbany.com)
is the listening choice for people in the 18-45 demographic, particularly
while they're at work.
Still, Condon hasn't turned his back on traditional radio, and
still thinks of himself as a "disc jockey."
Condon started doing weekend DJ work on WTRY in 1963, while he
was still in high school.
He enrolled at Hudson Valley in business, already aware that radio
would be his career.
"The teachers were almost like friends, and they really cared
about our success," he recalls.
The college was on "trimesters" during the standard public school
year at that time, and Condon believes that system permitted him
to enroll in more courses than students at other schools. "I felt
I was learning more," he said.
Since then, Condon's own son has graduated from Hudson Valley.
"It worked great for him, too," he said. "I've watched the college
really grow, and the expansion has been both astounding and pleasing."
James P. Conley '57
"We didn't do college in my family," remarked James P. Conley, "but
I came out of the Navy in 1955 and went right to Hudson Valley,
in the old shirt factory. It gave me the impetus to go on, and
the confidence that I could be successful as a student. We even
had an honor society, and I was its president - pretty good for
a guy of my background."
Professor James Fitzgibbons (later to become the college's second
president) helped Conley find a job with IBM after his graduation
from the Electronics Technology program, and he soon transferred
into Rochester Institute of Technology to complete his bachelor's
From then on, Conley rose steadily in industry, finally retiring
from GE in 1994 as sales manager for heavy industrial businesses.
At one point, he administered a budget of about $300 million.
"I had great experiences, and I don't know how I could have had
a more interesting career," he said. "Hudson Valley opened doors
that wouldn't have been open to me, gave me incentive and the confidence
to go through those doors."
With GE support, Conley established the James P. Conley Family
Foundation at the college, establishing a financial award for academic
leaders in the Electrical Technology program.
Mark Corbo P.E. '80
Mark Corbo doesn't mince words when he tell tells you what he
thinks about his education at Hudson Valley.
"After transferring to RPI, I finished second in my class (3.96
GPA), proving (at least in my mind) that the education I got at
Hudson Valley was at least as good as my last two years," he said.
Corbo's family had offered him two years at RPI, and let him choose
whether they would be the first two or the last two.
"When I got over to RPI, I found that kids who had spent the first
two years at Hudson Valley were ahead, particularly with hands-on
Author of more than a dozen technical papers, including several
that received awards or other recognition, Corbo "aced" his professional
engineering exam on his first try. He earned his master's from
RPI's Hartford center at night, and with a partner later founded
No Bull Engineering after being laid off from MTI in Latham.
A "virtual" company now comprising Corbo and about two dozen consultants,
No Bull Engineering does rotodynamics, torsional vibration mechanics,
finite element analysis, etc. The name was chosen to avoid the
alphabet soup of acronyms, as well as to make people remember,
and realize it is a virtual company, without big overhead, Corbo
"Hudson Valley is the 'No Bull Engineering' of engineering colleges," he
said. "I had great instructors, and there was a lot of camaraderie
Eileen Cote '82
Medical Secretarial Science
Art teacher Eileen "Ivy" Cote wasn't encouraged to enter either
teaching or creative arts while in high school, so she turned to
Hudson Valley for training to find a job.
Ultimately, the training Cote received in Medical Secretarial
Science provided her with the means to earn her later education:
a bachelor's degree in art education at The College of Saint Rose,
and a master's in creative arts in learning from Lesley University
Now a Canaan resident, Cote is afforded "lots of latitude" to
design curriculum for her art students at nearby Country Day School
in Lenox, MA.
"I can be independent, and have freedom in my teaching," she said.
At Hudson Valley, she enjoyed the sciences, was terrified that
she wouldn't pass her math classes, and didn't enjoy the secretarial
courses because, "I kind of knew they'd become obsolete soon." Still,
she found them useful in getting a job, and that job, working for
a group of five OB/GYNs, paid her living expenses while she continued
her college education.
"No one can really predict where they're going," Cote advised. "I
knew I wanted a fulfilling career, so I bit the bullet and went
through the work, knowing it would be worth it."
Milagro Delgado '83
1990 Distinguished Alumna
The name "Milagro" means "miracle" in Spanish, and that's how
Milagro "Millie" Delgado sees her life and career.
Brooklyn-born Delgado was working with minorities at Schenectady's
Urban Center before she took a job in the mailroom at Hudson Valley.
She transferred to the college print shop job and began attending
school during her evenings, studying Security Administration.
Bilingual, Delgado found her calling at Hudson Valley's Capital
District Educational Opportunity Center, and soon was accompanying
a parole officer on visits to groups of short-term inmates at area
"I was never scared, and I was treated with respect," she said.
Eventually working in admissions and recruitment for the EOC, she's
proud of her rapport with paroled individuals, many with special
needs. She took the possibilities of education into halfway houses
and soup kitchens.
Delgado earned a bachelor's degree in higher education and administration
at Empire State College while working at the EOC, and eventually
was named both Albany YWCA Woman of the Year, and Hudson Valley's
1990 Distinguished Alumna.
Now retired, Delgado spends winters in Boca Raton, golfing, and
using her language capabilities while volunteering in a soup kitchen.
Summers find her back in the Capital Region because, "This is home," she
Lalena DeMarco '99
Early Childhood Development
"If Hudson Valley was a four-year school, I would have stayed
right there," said Lalena DeMarco, capsulizing her feelings for
the school where she received her associate's degree in Early Childhood
Development in 1999.
Fresh out of The College of Saint Rose with a bachelor's degree
and dual certification in special education and elementary education,
DeMarco began teaching children with emotional problems last year
at Goff Middle School in East Greenbush.
"I have a self-contained 6-7-8th grade class of 12 pupils, and
the age group is exciting," she said. "I've learned a lot already
about how to work with these kids; it's hard, but I have excellent
support, and great aides."
DeMarco did things right on schedule: she enrolled at Hudson Valley
in her chosen field right after graduation from Shenendehowa High
School in 1997.
"Hudson Valley has such a great Early Childhood Department," she
said. Early in her college career, she thought she wanted to teach
kindergarten, but Hudson Valley placed her at the Helping Hands
School, where she became interested in special education.
"At Hudson Valley, we worked together as a team, and the profs
all knew you well and you had many contacts," she said. "When it
came time for interviews, those contacts work to your advantage."
William F. Fagan '73
President, Hudson Valley Community College Foundation
Born and raised in Troy, Bill Fagan didn't know what he wanted
to study in college, and turned to Hudson Valley to help him decide.
Now president of his family's insurance business, Fagan said his
college choice was perfect for him.
"I enjoyed Hudson Valley immensely. I met people who became lifelong
friends," he said, noting great teachers and a curriculum that
prepared him well for transfer to his father's alma mater, St.
Fagan was primarily involved in sports while at Hudson Valley,
including the boxing team.
Many years later, the late Frank Morgan, former dean of Liberal
Arts at the college, called and asked Fagan to become involved
in the newly formed Hudson Valley Community College Foundation.
Fagan has been president of the foundation for the past several
years, and remarked that his work with the organization is a way
of helping out.
"I enjoy it because it's a way of giving back to an institution
for which I have great affection and loyalty," Fagan said.
Deborah Funk, M.D. '92
Deb Funk was saving lives in the back of ambulances long before
she enrolled in the Paramedic Program at Hudson Valley. An emergency
medical technician with a bachelor's degree from University at
Albany, she knew being a paramedic would help her as she continued
her studies at Albany Medical College, so she enrolled in Hudson
Now a board-certified emergency physician at Albany Med and medical
director for the center's highly-respected Albany MedFLIGHT program,
her focus is "air medicine."
Dr. Funk believes her training at Hudson Valley served her well
along the way.
"The program was so clinically appropriate," said the ER doctor. "I
was already doing patient care, but Hudson Valley really prepared
me for med school, and for what I'm doing now."
Claudell Dwyer Galea '57
First Female Student; First Female
Claudell Dwyer was just 17 in 1955 when her guidance counselor
at Lansingburgh High School recommended that she enroll in Hudson
Valley Technical Institute to pursue a career as a draftsman. The
counselor had been told the new Institute was planning to expand
and admit women.
When Dwyer went to register, she was told the school didn't teach
mechanical drawing, and she was placed in Construction Technology.
She became the first and only female in a college filled with Korean
War veterans, and also one of few women anywhere studying construction.
"I didn't know any different," she explained. "The faculty took
me under their wing," and she sat with her instructors at lunch
until "eventually, I broke away, and hung out with my classmates."
In 1957, just after her graduation, she married a student who
was a year behind her at the college: Anthony Galea.
Dwyer was a member of the team of students who surveyed the Williams
Farm before construction began there for the new Hudson Valley
campus. Also, one of her assignments was to design a ladies' lounge
and rest room for herself and future co-eds in the old downtown
building, for which she used the pink and gray tiles distinctive
in the 1950s.
Dwyer Galea worked briefly after her wedding, and then put her
career on hold for 17 years, while she raised her four children.
Then, she went to work for the state's Department of Historic Preservation,
documenting and measuring historic buildings, until she secured
a position in design and construction for the Office of General
Services. After that came a position as assistant architect with
the Department of Education. With training in code enforcement
and asbestos abatement, she managed the environmental quality review
program for all school construction in New York.
Along the way, she bought an old camp at Saratoga Lake and began
rehabbing houses there - but that's another story.
Retiring in 1999, Dwyer Galea and her husband have since moved
to Florida, where she golfs and has taken up water color painting.
Dwyer Galea's youngest daughter, Nicole, also graduated from the
Construction Technology program at Hudson Valley, and subsequently
studied civil engineering and marketing. She now is completing
her master's in facilities management at Georgia Tech, where she
"And there are still just a handful of girls in these fields," her
proud mom reported.
Anthony H. Galea '58
One of Anthony "Tony" Galea's most vivid memories of his student
days at Hudson Valley in the '50s was trying to find a parking
space on "the old street campus" in downtown Troy.
More important, though, are his memories of meeting his wife,
Claudell Dwyer, at the college. Galea courted and won the first
female to graduate from Hudson Valley, and they are still married
46 years later.
An Army veteran who served in Europe during the Korean War, Galea
became a Mechanical Technology major at Hudson Valley, and went
on to study at both RPI and Union College while he worked as a
civil engineer for the state Department of Transportation, designing
and supervising the construction of numerous highway and bridge
projects. Vandenburgh Avenue - Hudson Valley's front yard - was
one of his first projects.
During the last half of that career, he was a regional utilities
engineer, coordinating utilities involvement with construction.
After retirement, Galea became a highway consultant to Verizon
and Niagara Mohawk, and even consulted on design of the reconstruction
of the Vandenburgh Avenue, rebuilding his own past project.
Today, in Sarasota, Florida, he still does a bit of consulting,
between rounds of golf.
Remarking that his career seemed to happen almost magically, Galea
said his success came mostly from being in the right place at the
right time, "and believing in what I was doing."
Karen E. Gordon '70
1997 Distinguished Alumna
Hudson Valley was the only educational option available to Karen
Gordon when she graduated from high school, "and yet I feel as
though I got absolutely the best education," said the 1970 accounting
grad. Gordon later earned a bachelor's degree from the College
of Saint Rose, and then went on to become Executive Director for
the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO) of the Greater Capital
Honored as Hudson Valley's Distinguished Alumna for 1997, Gordon
has received several other significant awards in recognition of
her leadership. Under her direction, the CEO has grown to become
a 350-employee, $14 million agency, operating 16 major programs
vital to improving the lives of Rensselaer County residents.
Most recently, the CEO opened the Joseph L. Bruno Family Resource
Center, a comprehensive center assisting people to become self-sufficient
through child care, family development activities, partnerships
for youth, a café and a conference center.
Gordon remembers attending fun "mixers" at Hudson Valley during
the late '60s, but now spends her free time either on the golf
course or playing with 2-year-old granddaughter, Gabriella.
John Gray '83
1996 Distinguished Alumnus
When John Gray first enrolled at Hudson Valley, he joined in a
pick-up basketball game and was in awe over the skills of one of
the players, an older, guy named Willie Hammett.
"I've never forgotten how good he was," Gray said of Hammett,
who is now Hudson Valley's vice president of student services.
But today, Gray holds an important position in the community as
well, and people recognize him as anchor and consumer reporter
at WNYT (Channel 13). He was named Distinguished Alumnus at Hudson
Valley in 1996.
Gray was editor of the "Hudsonian" student newspaper while at
Hudson Valley, and he remembers covering the growth of the campus
at that time. "It was just beginning to take off," he recalled, "but
it's really fun to go back now and see how it's grown: it's like,
Gray was active in campus broadcasting at SUNY Oswego, where he
transferred for his bachelor's degree after graduation from Hudson
After 18 years in broadcasting, Gray is most proud of the stories
he's done in which he's helped individuals, such as a woman with
cancer whose health insurance wouldn't cover her treatment. Gray's
work helped overturn the insurance company's decision, and gave
the woman a chance at life.
Amanda Greco '97
Early Childhood Development
Amanda Greco remembers doing creative, fun things in some of her
Early Childhood Development classes at Hudson Valley.
"We got to act like kids," she recalled with a laugh.
A good representative of her class, she was chosen by President
Stephen Curtis to accompany him to Albany to lobby for development
of the Early Childhood program.
A former East Greenbush resident, Greco enrolled at the college
right out of high school, and upon earning her associate's degree,
was among five students chosen from Hudson Valley to attend Bennington
College on a $60,000 scholarship. She graduated in 2000 with her
Master of Arts degree.
From college in Vermont, Greco moved to Myrtle Beach, SC, where
her brother lived, and immediately received two interviews and
job offers. Still single, she teaches 4- and 5-year-olds there,
as well as an after-school reading program for elementary school
"I loved the Early Childhood program at Hudson Valley," she
stated. "If I hadn't gone there, I wouldn't have gotten my
scholarship to Bennington."
In the future, Greco thinks she'd like to travel, and perhaps
to teach in some other country.
William P. Harbour '60
Retired CEO, Clough, Harbour & Associates
He drove a truck his first year out of high school, until he realized
he wanted something more, and that his only hope was through getting
a good education.
So William Harbour enrolled at Hudson Valley, driving to school
in a 1953 Crown Victoria. He was one of the last students to attend
classes in the former shirt factory building at Troy, but his graduation
ceremony took place on the new campus.
Harbour took his new skills and knowledge from Hudson Valley and
his hopes and dreams right up the hill to RPI, where he studied
civil engineering. He went on to become CEO of the firm that bears
his name: Clough Harbour & Associates, one of the largest engineering
and planning firms in the country.
"Hudson Valley was an open gate to the future for me," he said, "and
after that it was all pretty easy. You had to work hard - and I
did - and then things just happened for me."
James Hicks '94
James Hicks enrolled at Hudson Valley in '86 right out of Maple
Hill High in Schodack, "but I didn't remember to go to class," he
Next stop for Hicks was the Marines, and he became a section leader
as a machine gunner, serving nine months in the Persian Gulf. "That
made me realize I didn't want to be in a war again," he said. He
enrolled again at Hudson Valley, and claims that after the Marines,
the discipline needed to do well in school "was a piece of cake."
"Classes at 8 a.m. are a breeze compared to 5:30 a.m. "fun runs,'" he
said in understatement.
Hicks played basketball and baseball at Hudson Valley, and was
team captain in both sports, but basketball was his passion. He
won the Otto Guenther Award two years in a row, given for academics
as well as sports.
"It was a big thing for my parents," he said proudly.
After his '94 graduation, Hicks transferred to Cortland State,
graduating with a bachelor's degree in Physical Education. He recalled
that the "fit for matriculation was tremendous, and there were
quite a few of us from Hudson Valley. We all did well, and we graduated
But Hicks said they were spoiled by the McDonough Sports Complex,
which opened while he was at Hudson Valley.
"It was unbelievable. Cortland seemed like a step down," he said.
Today, Hicks is regional vice president for Primerica, and is
building his business with his wife, Alyssa. Married just one year,
they have 45 financial consultants working through their business.
Joyce Hughes-Carr '78
Joyce Hughes-Carr was a single mother of two, barely making ends
meet as a licensed practical nurse, when the hematologist in charge
at her lab pushed her to enroll in the Physician Assistant program
at Hudson Valley.
"I said there was no way I could go back to school, but people
helped me apply for grants and awards to pay my way, my mom babysat
my kids, an incredible group of classmates helped me study," recalled
the '78 grad. "Then, in my last semester at Hudson Valley, when
the money ran out, the college came through and found a way for
me to stay."
She was recruited at graduation as a family care practitioner,
and went on to implement New York's first school-based health clinics.
Hughes-Carr is now in her 21st year as an administrator with the
state Health Department, responsible for quality planning for Health
"One of my personal commitments is to establish a scholarship
at the college in my parents' name, and I intend to follow through," she
said with conviction. "They believed education was the key to everything."
Neil J. Kelleher '91
Civil and Public Service
2000 Distinguished Alumnus
Rensselaer County Legislature Chairman Neil J. Kelleher '91 earned
about a year's worth of credits at Hudson Valley right after high
school, from 1970 to 1971, but 20 years passed before he finished
his degree in Civil and Public Service.
"I was two years into my rookie term (as legislator), and I finished
my degree part time while working full time and serving the county," he
recalled. "I like to think the college is proud of me. Hudson Valley
is woven into the fabric of this city, and it's been a big part
of my life, both as student and employee, and now through the county."
Kelleher is employed by Hudson Valley, as physical plant supervisor.
Back in 1970, Kelleher said the Grove was the place to go, Brahan
Hall was the cafeteria 'hangout,' and the library was the big new
building in town. "Traffic jams were the same, and I don't know
anybody who didn't have to pay off a few parking tickets."
Kelleher's father, Neil W., was Troy's mayor, before city management
was implemented. Both father and son have been honored as "Man
of the Year" by Friends of 112th Street.
Active in numerous civic and charitable groups, Kelleher said
he is most proud of being able to help the people of Troy and Rensselaer
County on a daily basis.
"Also, without a doubt, my proudest moment was graduation. As
an adult student you tend to doubt yourself a bit more, and you
walk across that stage thinking, 'I really did it!"
Andrew Kisela '2003
Andrew Kisela, age 77, may well be the oldest (or most mature)
new graduate ever at Hudson Valley Community College. But his story
is more than a tale of someone who has a passion for education.
Kisela is a native of Tarrytown, NY, but he currently lives in
Shohola, PA. He completed his degree in Mortuary Science at Hudson
Valley almost exclusively through online learning. When he had
to be here on campus for certain classes, he and his wife Lucille
stayed at a local motel and drove the three hours back to their
home on weekends.
He never even owned a computer before taking this program, he
He was discharged from the Navy in 1946 and began what would be
a 40-year career in sales for Hallmark Cards, first in the Metropolitan
New York region and later on the West Coast.
After leaving one career, he decided to pursue another that had
interested him for years. He wanted to become a funeral director.
Kisela heard about Hudson Valley from a local funeral director
who had attended the college, came up for a visit, and was soon
Kisela said there were times when he walked into the classroom
when the students thought he was the professor.
Regina Scarano LaGatta '73
1989 Distinguished Alumna
Regina Scarano LaGatta remembers Hudson Valley being similar to
a large university campus when she was a student in the early '70s.
"With all the Greeks, social clubs, parades and mixers, we just
stayed on campus all the time," she said. "We had bonfires and
concerts with thousands in attendance, and standing-room only football
games. The student government had a lot of voice," said LaGatta
who served as elected secretary for that group.
Now senior vice president and deputy executive officer for the
Capital District YMCA, LaGatta was interested in community recreation,
but branched off into adaptive physical education. She earned a
bachelor's degree at SUNY Brockport, worked as a recreation therapist
the Center for the Disabled, and went on to complete a master's
degree in special education at College of Saint Rose.
Along the way, she volunteered for numerous organizations, coached
a national disabled sports team, and was director of facility utilization
for nine years at Hudson Valley, where she met her husband, James
J. LaGatta '69, now deputy to the president at the college. The
couple has two children.
"I was an average high school student, and I needed the two years
of guidance and support at Hudson Valley to prepare me to go on
for a four year degree," she claimed. "We had a great deal of attention
within our majors, and we were very well prepared; the faculty
knew us individually, and all our strengths and weaknesses."
LaGatta was a volunteer for 12 years at the YMCA before accepting
a position in its administration in 1999, the same year she received
the organization's highest Volunteer Recognition Award, the President's
Award. She also earned Hudson Valley's Ability Awareness Special
Recognition Award for her advocacy for campus accessibility.
"Now I'm back to my urban mission, and back to working with kids," she
Maynard Lassonde '73
Studying Electrical Technology at Hudson Valley was the start
of a "circuitous road" for Maynard Lassonde, he quipped.
The circuit took him to a bachelor's degree in geology at the
University at Albany, and then earned him a commission as a second
lieutenant in the US Air Force. He measured earthquakes, and went
on to the Air Force Geophysics Lab.
Today, he is part-owner of Shaker Computer and Management Services
Inc., where he started out developing software for commercial constructions.
"I wanted to return to this area, and Air Force clearances made
me even more 'hireable' for contract work," he said.
He enrolled at Hudson Valley right out of Voorheesville High School,
when the field of electronics seemed both practical and marketable.
Jobs were readily available right out of the Hudson Valley program,
he recalled. He went to work for the New York Geological Survey.
"I've pointed a number of people to Hudson Valley. Particularly
if they're spinning their wheels," he advised, "they can get some
traction there, and move forward.
"But It's always hard to say where you'll wind up," he remarked.
Ruth Lorenzo '2000
Born in Perth Amboy, NJ, Ruth Lorenzo moved with her parents to
their native Puerto Rico when she was just a year old. At 19, studying
business in a Puerto Rican university, she knew her heart was set
on becoming an architect, and she'd have to return to the mainland
to achieve her goal.
Living with her aunt in the Capital Region, Lorenzo enrolled at
the University at Albany, but her poor English skills held her
back. She improved her language through programs at the Educational
Opportunity Center, took a job at Price Chopper and enrolled at
Hudson Valley, graduating with honors in Civil Engineering. Now
29, married to current Hudson Valley student and Peru native, Anibal
Llanos, and the mother of a six-year-old daughter, Lorenzo is just
a year away from graduating from the five-year Architecture program
"I'm so proud of myself for graduating with honors from Hudson
Valley," said the busy young woman. "People are so impressed with
what I'm doing, but I'm the type of person that when I start something,
I have to finish. I have one more year and two part-time jobs to
go," she said with conviction.
"I want to travel," she said. "I want to see Spain."
Roy John McDonald '67
1984 Distinguished Alumnus
Member, Hudson Valley Community College Foundation
Roy McDonald was elected to the state Assembly from District 112
in February 2002, but when he attended Hudson Valley in the mid-60s
he was just "Roy from Troy," who lived in housing projects the
first five years of his life.
The son of a steel mill worker who was active in union politics,
McDonald transferred from Hudson Valley to SUNY Oneonta for his
bachelor's degree in political science and economics, and then
served in the US Army in Vietnam and Cambodia. He returned to Oneonta
for his master's degree.
He was a member of the Student Senate and Kappa Sigma Kappa at
the college, and said, "I'm an illustration of the reality of 'crossing
It was the late Dr. Frank Morgan, Liberal Arts dean at Hudson
Valley, who took McDonald under his wing, and took him to visit
the NY State Assembly for the first time.
"Hudson Valley and people there like Frank Morgan gave people
like me an opportunity to participate in the American Dream," he
said. Employed as an investment banker by UBS Paine Webber Corp.,
McDonald also has been supervisor for both the town of Wilton and
McDonald's sister also attended Hudson Valley, and now is a school
W. Warren McGreevey '60
"Hudson Valley was the start of my life of saying, 'you can do
well with your mental capacities and you can improve your whole
lifestyle, and you will benefit through your education,'" said
Warren McGreevey '60. A Korean War Era veteran, he earned a degree
in Automotive Technology, a member of the first class to graduate
on the building site of the future campus. He still has the restored
'32 Plymouth coupe that proves he learned some highly specialized
"It was all cars and jeans and white socks back then, but I loved
messing with cars, and even though I had a good job (as brakeman
on the B&M Railroad), I knew education was the way to go," said
McGreevey. "But we had English and history and all that stuff,
and it helped. Our classes were in the old shirt factory - but
I don't believe an education has to have first-class anything,
as long as the tools are provided." Frills aren't necessary, according
to McGreevey, and Hudson Valley was on the "ground floor" of trade
schools for the time.
Already married and expecting a child, McGreevey took a big economic
risk after graduation, enrolling in the State Police Academy. He
fell in love with law enforcement.
After his retirement from the state police, McGreevey held a string
of elected positions, from Schaghticoke Town Justice to Rensselaer
County Sheriff to County Legislator. He assisted in founding the
Zone Five Law Enforcement Academy at Hudson Valley.
Retired yet again, the man who once studied auto technology at
Hudson Valley now spends two days each week working at the Northway
Car Auction in Halfmoon. "It's great. I'm right out there with
the cars," he said, his voice a grin.
Robert S. Menchel '55
1986 Distinguished Alumnus
Outstanding Disabled Alumnus President's Award
Dr. Robert Menchel '55 writes that he owes a lot to Hudson Valley.
Menchel was not only a member of the college's first graduating
class, but he also was its first deaf graduate.
"In 1953, opportunities for people with disabilities, especially
for those who were deaf, were limited or non-existent," he said,
noting that manual trades suggested to him included printer, shoemaker
or carpenter. "The attitude of educators at that time was that
it was impossible for a deaf person to go on to higher education."
The opening of Hudson Valley was Menchel's "golden door of opportunity," he
said. Also, the student body at the time, mostly Korean War veterans,
accepted their deaf classmate as one of them. "It was something
I had never before experienced," he said. Menchel went on to become
the first deaf student to earn an MBA from Rochester Institute
of Technology, and the first deaf student to receive an Ed.D. from
the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
Menchel retired as assistant professor at the National Technical
Institute for the Deaf at RIT in 2001, and is now active in improving
open captioned films for the deaf. He also is working with Mt.
Holyoke College to integrate deaf young women into the college's
Menchel has been recipient of numerous awards through the years,
including the 1986 Distinguished Alumnus Award at Hudson Valley,
and the 1999 President's Award to an Outstanding Disabled Alumni.
"If it was not for Hudson Valley, which gave me a foot in the
door, I never would have achieved what I have," said Menchel, who
became a role model to countless students through 32 years of teaching.
Patricia Nealon C.S.W. '93
Health & Human Services
Patricia Nealon enrolled in her first college course - Intro to
General Psychology, at age 41, certain she was going to fail. Her
daughters ranged from 6 to 16 in age, and she'd been a self-described "poor
high school student."
After earning A's in a few courses, "It grew on me," she recalled,
and she enrolled full time.
"There were so many other non-traditional students at Hudson Valley,
and we traveled together, giving each other support," she said,
admitting that most of them thought they'd finish when - and if - they
reached the associate's degree.
Since graduation from Hudson Valley, Nealon earned both bachelor's
and master's degrees in social work, and earned certification in
her field. Today, she is director of social services at Wesley
Hills Care Center. Her first job was at St. Anne's Institute, where
she had interned while at Hudson Valley.
"I had great teachers at Hudson Valley," Nealon said. "I was so
shocked at their encouragement and recognition of what I could
do; I think they recognized things you weren't able to see in yourself."
"I can't imagine life without my doing this," she said of her
Annette Orfitelli '82
Math and Science
Learning physics at Hudson Valley led Annette Orfitelli to a magical
career - literally.
Hudson Valley had cheap tuition, and a physics program (Math and
Science) that paralleled the RPI curriculum, so it was an obvious
choice for me," she recalled. She was a work-study student in the
physics lab, and after graduation she remained there as an employee
for three years, until a position became available at RPI as a
physics lecturer/demonstrator. The position involved performing
a "physics magic show" in front of groups of 500 extremely bright
"It was very entertaining," she said of the show, "and kids loved
Orfitelli then developed a show geared to elementary school students
and "took it on the road" throughout the region.
Later, when RPI retired the physics magic show, Orfitelli "retired
from physics" and became photographer for the JP Cruises on the
Hudson, and then "followed the boat" to Fort Myers Beach, Florida.
She lives next door to the resort where she works as a bartender,
mixing potions of a different type.
John P. Reardon III '77
John Reardon was the first in his family to attend and graduate
from college. Majoring in Civil Technology, he graduated just at
the time the area economy slowed down, and there were a few years
and a few jobs before he settled into a position at Clough Harbor
for eight years, and then as a civil engineer for the town of Colonie
for the past 16 years.
Working full time, he spent nine years completing a bachelor's
degree in civil engineering at Union College. First he enrolled
in three courses per year, then two courses, and finally, ready
to start a family, he attended school full time the last year.
"I felt like I'd climbed Mt. Everest," he said of the accomplishment.
A member of numerous professional, civic and youth support organizations,
Reardon is now working to compile information about water, sewer,
highway and drainage systems in Colonie for an extensive computerization
of all infrastructure. He recalls learning his basic skills during
cold, early morning surveying classes at Hudson Valley.
"But we had professors who wanted to see us achieve our best,
and they were willing to put in the extra time for you if you were
willing to work," he asserted. "It laid the foundation for me,
so that when I pursued the construction aspect of architectural
engineering, I knew how things worked. Actually, Hudson Valley
laid the foundation for my future."
"I'm a firm believer that Hudson Valley is one of the best deals
in the country. My sons use the Conway Ice Rink, and I've seen
that the expansion is top-notch; the administration has really
looked to the future," he said.
George P. Regan '73
1999 Distinguished Alumnus
George Regan took an indirect route toward his ultimate career,
but credits Hudson Valley with giving him the tools to get him
where he wanted to go.
A 1973 graduate of the college's one-year Development program,
Regan continued at the college in the Math and Science program
for at least another year, giving him the background General Dynamics
wanted in trainees for its Electric Boat Division in Connecticut,
where Regan wound up working on the second Trident Sub program.
But Regan has a knack for people and management, and he was a
long distance runner. Soon he took a risk, went into special events
management, and went on to a position placing US Men's Championship
programs throughout the country.
"It was a 360-degree career change, but the analytical skills
I learned at Hudson Valley made the change possible," he said.
As president of the US Track and Field Adirondack Association,
Regan has been responsible for bringing the Women's 5K National
Championship to the Capital Region for the last 22 years. Known
as the "Freihofer's Run for Women," it has evolved into one of
the best-known runs in the country.
In recognition of his work, Regan was named Hudson Valley's Distinguished
Alumni in 1999. He's received numerous other awards for his influence
on track and field, cross country, road racing and race walking,
but perhaps the accomplishment he's most proud of is his own "personal
best:" Regan ran the 1982 NYC Marathon in 2 hours, 47 minutes.
William D. Rockwell '64
Hudson Valley Community College gave William Rockwell a chance,
"Business education gave me the opportunity to be more successful
than I ever dreamed," he said. "Because of that, when my wife and
I leave, our estate will go to the Christian Children's Fund, to
be used for education."
Retired for the past two years after a long career in food service,
Rockwell enrolled at the new college campus during years that Hudson
Valley offered classes on the trimester basis.
"You had to study harder and work harder because a lot was squeezed
in," he said. "But it was a real door-opener for a job offering
advancement, or for more college."
Rising through the ranks to become vice president of marketing
for an area firm, Rockwell still dreamed of having a four-year
degree. He enrolled in Skidmore College's University Without Walls
and graduated with a bachelor's degree in business when he was
37 years old.
"Hudson Valley gave me the basis to realize those dreams I had,
both in education and in my career," Rockwell said. "I did well
there, too, graduating within the top 10 in my class. It gave me
lots of confidence, along with the skills I needed."
Marion R. Rosenthal '2000
Marion Rosenthal '2000 held a full-time job and was raising two
children when she took her first class at Hudson Valley. She was
40, and scared to death, she recalled, but she "fell in love with
From then on, for 11 years, her nights were spent at the college,
where she enrolled in one course per semester.
"My only regret is that Hudson Valley isn't a four-year college," she
said. "I would have gone on, and stayed there."
Rosenthal administers an Ayco Company program offering support
and financial counseling to survivors and to terminally ill employees.
She uses her education communicating with employers, discussing
a program that touches on bereavement in a subtle way.
"I know it's a cliché, but Hudson Valley really helped
me to understand and appreciate people," Rosenthal said.
John Scarchilli '74
2002 Distinguished Alumnus
John Scarchilli '74 met his wife, Nancy Grochmal '71, while they
were students at Hudson Valley. He belonged to a fraternity, and
Nancy to a sorority. There were four young men from his fraternity
who married four young women from his wife's sorority.
"We developed great relationships with folks from that, including
many we're still friends with," he said.
Scarchilli first enrolled at Hudson Valley fresh out of high school.
His family couldn't afford a four-year school at the time, and
yet he knew education was important. He took a semester off, was
drafted into the military, returned to complete another year, and
then transferred to Siena College, where he earned his bachelor's
Scarchilli joined Pioneer Savings Bank as an assistant auditor
in 1977, rose through the ranks, and was designated as CEO and
elected to the Board of Trustees in 1997.
He was named Hudson Valley's Distinguished Alumnus for 2002.
Both John and Nancy sing in their church choir where John also
plays the guitar as well as in a select ensemble that performs
at events such as the Victorian Stroll in Troy.
Peter Semenza '84
Chairperson, Hudson Valley Alumni Council
Peter Semenza '84 led his staff and campaign workers to raise
$3.7 million last year for the two charitable foundations he heads
at St. Peter's Health Care Services in Albany, but the fund-raising
executive still finds time to volunteer his own time and energy
as chairman of the Alumni Association Council at Hudson Valley.
"Under the leadership of (President) John Buono, this college
is growing faster than anyone can imagine," Semenza commented. "I
think there's great potential for the annual Alumni Campaign to
play a more significant role."
Originally enrolled in the former Data Processing program at the
college, Semenza credited Hudson Valley faculty for helping him
discover his own "people skills," leading him to switch his concentration
to marketing. After graduation, Semenza transferred to University
at Albany, studying full time to complete both a bachelor's degree
in communications and a master's degree in organizational communications.
His experience with charitable organizations began early, with
positions at New York Easter Seals Society and the Center for the
Disabled. Semenza was named executive director of the St. Peter's
Hospital Foundation in 1997, and later assumed leadership of the
Community Hospice Foundation as well.
"Hudson Valley spent the time with me to get me focused on what
I really wanted to do," Semenza said. "It may not be the last school
our alumni attend, but it plays a very meaningful role: it certainly
pointed me in the right direction, so I've had this allegiance,
and I hope other alumni will feel the same."
Nancy Laiacona Shishik '80
Math and Science
Nancy Laiacona Shishik '80 knew she wanted to be a pharmacist
even before she enrolled at Hudson Valley, but she had been out
of school for eight years, and was raising two very young children.
"I started with basic math and ended with four semesters of calculus,
but it all helped me for the pharmacy curriculum at the end," she
said, and every credit she earned at Hudson Valley was accepted
when she transferred.
Now working for Bristol-Myers Squibb as a senior psychiatric institutional
specialist, Shishik said that maybe she's most proud of being an
independent, professional woman.
"Basically, I started out with kids, and it was a struggle, but
I set goals and met them. At one point my license plate said, 'My
But at Hudson Valley, she said, "Even my electives held a
lot of weight: there weren't many women then, and my courses made
me more rounded."
Shishik's brother also attended Hudson Valley and then RPI, before
going to work for Squibb.
Both her children are now pharmacists, also.
"Back then, I set my alarm for 4 a.m., and I got up and studied.
I'm thrilled with what Hudson Valley did for me, and what I've
been able to accomplish."
Barry Sparks III '2000
Barry Sparks III planned to continue his education after graduating
in 1976 from Cardinal McClusky High School, but instead he found
himself continuing to work in his family's dry cleaning business.
Today, Sparks still works with his dad in the business, but he
earned that degree he wanted in 2000, having attended Hudson Valley
full time since the fall of 1997, when he enrolled to become an
"I was overwhelmed pretty quickly, but a counselor at the college
worked with me, identifying strengths and weaknesses. I did an
internship with Rensselaer ARC, and worked myself into a service
coordinator's position, and then realized that maybe I wanted to
work with a different population: maybe young males, for whom I
could be a role model," he explained. "I can build people up and
give them hope; I like to use that gift."
Sparks acknowledged God as head of his life, and said, "He is
my Lord and my Savior," and identified Metropolitan New Testament
Baptist Church as a big part of his life.
"I'm engaged, I have a 14-year-old daughter and I'm blessed, and
glad to be alive. I had mentors at Hudson Valley who were instrumental
in my doing well there. I was fearful, but I allowed my faith to
overcome that fear, and then I did well."
Bonnie M. Stoliker '96
Bonnie Stoliker drove a school bus for Waterford Schools for 20
years, in the same district where her husband taught and her children
attended school. Life was fairly predictable until she took a single
college class and discovered learning and possibilities.
At 42, Stoliker began dreaming of becoming a social worker. Most
semesters she took just one course at Hudson Valley, although she "doubled
up" near the end. Later, she earned a bachelor's degree at the
College of Saint Rose, and her husband presented her with a necklace
spelling "BSW" - bachelor of social work - in diamonds.
Today, Stoliker supervises two programs at St. Catherine's Center
for Children, where she began her new career as a case worker.
"Hudson Valley was so accommodating," Stoliker said. "Even as
night students, everything we needed was right there for us: reserve
materials, internships - Hudson Valley made sure we had what we
needed, when and where we needed it."
John E. Sweeney '79
Congressman John E. Sweeney first came to Hudson Valley Community
College when he was just 17, in 1974. He "lasted" about a year
and a half, but a few years later he returned, re-enrolled in a
number of classes, and moved on to earn bachelor's and law degrees.
"I kind of breezed through high school," the congressman said, "but
at Hudson Valley I had to earn it, and at that stage I didn't have
a handle on who I wanted to be, or where I wanted to go. I played
baseball, and I did a lot of social stuff."
He said it might have been embarrassing for him to return to struggle
again with Composition 101, but instead, the professor worked with
him, keeping him focused and gaining commitment.
"At the same time, I had classes I truly enjoyed, like Russian,
which opened my eyes to the world out there," Sweeney said. "Here
I was a guy who hadn't passed Comp., but I was really involved
and learning. That second tour of study at Hudson Valley, I was
a changed person. I found the desire to learn, and the discipline
required to do well."
Sworn in as a member of the 106th Congress on Jan. 6, 1999, Sweeney
serves on the influential House Appropriations Committee, and the
subcommittees on Transportation and Related Agencies, Treasury
Postal and General Government, and the District of Columbia.
He was named Hudson Valley's 2001 Distinguished Alumnus.
"When I went to law school, many of the skills I had learned at
Hudson Valley were really applicable. Law schools try to scare
you out, and I credit Hudson Valley with that second chance that
made the difference for me, and allowed me to go forward," Sweeney
"It wasn't gratuitous: you got out of it what you put into it.
I didn't get that the first time. I had to learn."
Eloise Trainor '73
Eloise Trainor's parents were caretakers on an estate in Canaan,
where the owner had a small golf course. From that childhood exposure
to the sport, she went on to establish the Futures Tour for women
golfers, offering a link to the LPGA Tour.
Trainor attended Hudson Valley a few years after finishing high
school. She wanted to learn about recreation for the elderly, but
there was no such program. She golfed, studied, graduated and moved
"I wanted a career in professional golf, but I needed experience," she
said. "I was becoming more competitive, but I found there was nothing
there for me, or for any professional woman golfer, so I chose
to organize tournaments." According to a feature piece in Golf
World (Jan. 21, 2000), Trainor and an early partner turned a mini
tour into a developmental tour, basically running the tour from
the trunk of Trainor's Volkswagen, which she once parked beside
a par-3 green as a hole-in-one prize (nobody won).
Trainor sold her shares in her tour in 1999, when more than 160
Futures alums had moved on to the LPGA Tour, winning more than
200 LPGA events and 21 major championships, according to Golf World.
"I loved working with the players and getting to know them before
their professional careers began," she said last spring, while
she was readying a new miniature golf course, "The Gardens" on
Route 20 in New Lebanon. Plans were to include a coffee house,
which Trainor would oversee while being caretaker for her 94-year-old
"I loved my two years at Hudson Valley," she said. "It was a very
positive experience, with a complete, all-around education." She
was awarded the college's Guenther Award for scholastic and athletic
Stewart C. Wagner '58
Past Director, Hudson Valley Community College
Stewart Wagner remembers playing softball on the winning intramural
softball team, the "M-10s," while a student at Hudson Valley in
"We didn't have a campus, or parking, and our machine shops used
equipment left from WW II," he recalled. "We played ball in a church
field, but it was one of the few intramural sports available there
at the time."
Wagner also remembers the red five-gallon pails filled with water
or sand, and painted with the word "FIRE" across them, which comprised
the fire safety equipment of the 1879 college building in downtown
Troy during his student days.
Today, Wagner is president and owner of Northern Industrial Services,
an Albany contract manufacturer providing services to commercial
and governmental clients. He bought the business in 1973, after
working on early missile projects.
His company employs from 35 to 100 people at any one time, and
he lists "family, employees and business partner" as those most
important in his life.
Sometimes called "S2" by friends, Wagner is a collector of antiques,
ephemera and old bottles relating to Albany and Troy. "When you're
a subcontractor in our business, you need a safety valve or release
to take the stress out of life," he explained.
Wagner also has served on numerous area boards and councils, earning
not only Hudson Valley's designation as 1985 Distinguished Alumnus,
but also inclusion in that same year's "One in a Million" booklet
recognizing outstanding graduates of the entire SUNY system.
James A. Walsh '61
Jim Walsh '61 confesses to living two lives: one in a position
for which his Hudson Valley education was invaluable, and the other
Graduating from Hudson Valley's Construction Technology program,
Walsh started work in that field at Niagara Mohawk, advancing to
become a draftsman and then a consumer representative, and finally
and area manager.
At the same time, he became active in local politics, and was
elected to Rensselaer County's Board of Supervisors in 1963, and
then later, three times to the County Legislature.
Currently chairman of the county's Republican Party, he believes
that "somewhere that door will close, and I'll go find another
Life without politics? Walsh doesn't consider that possibility,
and is proud that he's been able to mix politics and religion.
He has been active with St. Joseph's Church in South Troy his entire
Still, he counts his biggest achievement as watching his children
grow, and hoping he's helped them meet some challenges.
Three of his four children also graduated from Hudson Valley,
and Walsh's oldest brother was a student at the vocational school
that was the college's predecessor.
Judith Wildzumas '88
Judy Wildzumas is completing her master's requirements in educational
psychology at the College of Saint Rose, majoring in religious
studies and minoring in English, as a platform for teaching.
A wife and mother, she described herself as "older, really old." She
returned to Hudson Valley at age 40, spent three years earning
her degree, and graduated in the top 10 percent of her class.
"I'm finally completing things I desired all my life," she said. "I'm
sorry it isn't a four-year school, because I would have stayed
Instead, she transferred to University at Albany, earning a bachelor's
in social work.
Around that same time, Wildzumas developed a brain tumor. A religion
teacher for her parish and now a certified catechist, she credits
God for her recovery after successful surgery. "Prayer works," she
said. She has no hearing in one ear, where the tumor was involved
with a nerve.
Wildzumas and her husband, Michael, who is retired from the Colonie
Police Department, began a horticultural nursery 22 years ago (Osborne
Mill Nursery, Albany). "We have a passion for it," she explained. "And
we live right here at the nursery."
"It all started with Hudson Valley, which gave me a chance, through
an open door," she said. "I remember at that time there was a billboard
nearby that said, "Hudson Valley produces leaders."
Gordon N. Zuckerman, CLU, CLFC '62
Gordon Zuckerman remembers that his chemistry classes were on
the fifth floor of Hudson Valley's original downtown building,
but the water pressure didn't go above the third floor.
"My Class of 1962 was the first to move to the new campus," he
recalled, "and there were about 10 of us in chemistry."
"We had lunch every day at the "G Building" (Country Grove), but
we didn't drink. We started at about 8:30 in the morning and had
classes through 5 or 5:30, because we had six hours of lab time
for each chemistry class we took."
Still, he said, it was fun and social, and Zuckerman believes
he received a much better education at Hudson Valley than at Stonybrook
(where he played a lot of bridge) or at Union College, where he
later earned his bachelor's in Math and Chemistry while working
at GE. "Maybe the teaching capabilities elsewhere weren't as good
as at Hudson Valley," he commented.
Zuckerman joined the Army Reserve, and his unit was activated
and sent to Vietnam. When he was discharged and was finishing his
studies at Union, "about 17 insurance agents wanted me to convert
my military insurance," he said. One of those agents suggested
Zuckerman enter the insurance business.
He did, and said he's never looked back. Now president of Murray
and Zuckerman Inc., a nationally recognized life, health, group
and annuity brokerage firm, Zuckerman believes his business partnership
works because it's "equitable," rather than "equal." He served
on "maybe 16" boards for area not-for-profits this year.
"We give back to the community," he said.
Asked if he's looking toward retirement, he replied with the question, "From