While the majority of SUNY Cobleskill students come to us either directly after high school or within a year or two of graduating, we have several others who decide at a later period in their lives to continue their education. In many cases, individuals who make this decision after having spent a number of years away from school are particularly enthusiastic about being in college and often become outstanding students. Two of our recent graduates fit that description very well.
Noemi Radziemski Born in Hungary, Noemi emigrated to the United States at the age of 20. She married, and the couple had two sons. Noemi eventually became a single mother, leaving her little time for personal pursuits, but as her boys grew older she became restless. “I wanted to do something mentally stimulating,” she says, “something outside the house.” She decided to take a few courses at Rockland Community College, a relatively easy commute from her Nyack home. Before long, she was working on a two-year business degree and eager to pursue her education further still. Thanks to the degree-completion partnership that RCC maintains with SUNY Cobleskill she completed her SUNY Cobleskill bachelor’s degree in Business Administration this past spring while still at RCC, graduating Summa Cum Laude at age 41. “The partnership program was exactly right for me,” Noemi says. “SUNY Cobleskill’s academics are excellent, the classes fit my schedule, and I didn’t have to travel far from my home and my sons.” As for the future, Noemi brims with optimism. “I interned for a local company that’s offered me a full-time job,” she says. “But I’m going to take my time deciding because my new degree gives me all kinds of options.”
Walter J. Gutierrez “I was a mess,” says Walter Gutierrez, who graduated last spring from SUNY Cobleskill with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. Growing up in the Bronx, he struggled with discipline, particularly in high school. “I hated school, he says, “and at 17 I dropped out.”
Over the next 16 years Walter became addicted to drugs and alcohol, and eventually a series of DWI arrests that left him facing an automatic felony conviction. The court offered him one alternative to prison, however: a county Drug Court Program. “I had to wear an ankle bracelet and take constant blood tests,” he explains. “It was hard core stuff.”
He was also compelled to join Alcoholics Anonymous – and that’s when his turnaround began. “Suddenly I had sober friends and a clear head,” Walter said, “and the future opened up.”
Newly invigorated, he enrolled at Rockland County Community College, graduating in two years, Phi Beta Kappa, with an associate degree in business. While there he learned he could continue on and earn a SUNY Cobleskill bachelor’s degree without leaving RCC. He jumped at the chance, and his new bachelor’s degree is the result.
As for the lessons he’s learned along the way, Walter says: “So many people have potential they don’t realize is there. School, a job, a fresh start – you may not think you have a future, but you do.
Feature photo of Noemi and President Terenzio, and inset photo of Walter taken by Melissa Struckle ’07, Assistant Director of Professional and Continuing Education.