Holiday Homecoming Recap: Real Talk About College


On January 9th, we welcomed more than 175 Scholars, alumni, mentors and friends for a festive dinner, keynote talk by Dr. Shai Butler, and a panel discussion of Sponsor-A-Scholar alumni. Guests were also treated to a live performance by alumnus, Elijah Foulks, a graduate of SUNY Potsdam and a lyricist in his own right.


We also received a wonderful $10,000 grant from Bank of America, presented by Market President, Jennifer MacPhee, pictured here with college Scholars Jenesha Robert, Toshan Mahabir and Yusif Okine, all graduates of Schenectady High School.


The evening began with small group networking during dinner. Sponsor-A-Scholar alumni and representatives from many area businesses including: IEEE GlobalSpec; CommerceHub; Marvin & Co; UHY LLP; SUNY Albany; SparkShoppe; SUNY SCCC; Hudson Valley Community College; Maria College; High Impact Financial Analysis; New York State Department of Health; Albany Youth Employment Office; and, The College of Saint Rose helped Scholars and mentors to learn about possible career pathways to explore for their futures and got tips about career planning which included pursuing internships and connecting with professional associations to boost their resumes and refine their future plans.


After dinner, guests heard from Elijah Foulks, who performed his original songs Somewhere in America and ReMemory.

Then Dr. Shai Butler, the Vice President for Student Success and Chief Diversity Officer at the College of Saint Rose, shared her personal story of getting to college after having her first child as a teenager. She talked about the importance of caring individuals who believed in her, and told our audience that the most important thing was to listen to what they said about themselves, not what others might have been saying about them.


After Dr. Butler's talk, she moderated a panel of some of our accomplished alumni: Paul Collins-Hackett, an alumnus of Albany High School and Siena College, who now works for Albany's Youth Employment Office; Camellia Loojune, who went to Schenectady High School and earned a degree in Accounting from Syracuse University and now works in finance; and, Ashley Tate, who attended Troy High School and then went on to earn both her bachelors and master's degrees from University at Albany and now works as a public health researcher for the New York State Department of Health. 


The panelists spoke about the challenges and joys of college. They also talked about the difficulty of choosing a college to begin with, factoring in money, location and academics.  They shared missed opportunities--and stressed the importance of internships and studying abroad during the college years.


They also spoke about what they are most proud of--nearly all spoke about the careers that they have built for themselves in the years since graduating--which incidentally, is one of the many things that we are also so proud of too!

We are so grateful to our wonderful event underwriters: Adnet Technologies; BlueShield of Northeastern New York; Maria College; Martin Harding & Mazzotti; Mentor New York; Merit and The Times Union Classroom Enrichment Program.