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Students Gain Insights, Advice through Alumni Visits | Spring 2016 | SUNY Plattsburgh

Business and marketing alumnus Ed Tavino ’87 discussed his experience in the pharmaceutical sales industry with classes in the School of Business and Economics in April, the last of 10 spring semester visits made by 17 alumni as part of the Alumni in the Classroom Experience (ACE) program.

As part of the program, funded by the Plattsburgh Alumni Association and the Plattsburgh College Foundation, alumni networked with students, conducted professionalism workshops, held mock interviews and participated in panel discussions.

Tavino is the regional business director for the immunology business unit of a Georgia-based pharmaceutical company. It was his second time presenting to students at his alma mater. He was part of a similar program in 1997.

Tavino said he appreciates the opportunity to return to campus and mentor current students.

“They’ve asked a lot of good questions,” Tavino said of the student audience following presentations to two classes: marketing channels strategy and small business management.

He remembers listening to alumni speak to students when he was a marketing and business student.

“Some of the talks I remember to this day.”

His advice to students as they navigate college and beyond? Prepare. Prepare for a career by making the most of the college experience and after that, prepare for job interviews.

“It’s a quick assessment,” he said of the interview process. “Do your homework.”

‘Valuable Experience’

Students said the visit gave them insight into the business and marketing industry from a seasoned professional working in their field—something they couldn’t get from classroom instruction alone.

“I think having alumni come in and speak to students is one of the more valuable experiences we have on campus,” said senior Dan VanPatten, president of the SUNY Plattsburgh marketing club, who is double majoring in business administration and marketing.

“We are able to learn about what happens in the real world as well as understand how applicable everything we do in class is.”

Tavino’s visit incited a “spark of motivation” in VanPatten, he said, and helped him mentally prepare for life after graduation.

“It provides students with a real-life example of where hard work, the right attitude and proper motivation can get you,” VanPatten said.

‘Helps with Job Preparation’

After the in-class and lunch presentations on the day of Tavino’s visit, junior Ignacio Pijuan, who is studying marketing, finance and Latin American studies, attended a dinner with Tavino and several other students. He said the Tavino’s recommendations for job hunting and lessons on leadership will be helpful to him as he prepares to transition from college to a career.

“It helps me be a little bit more prepared to get a job,” Pijuan said. “I hope that more alumni come in the future because they can be an inspiration and role models to students as Ed was to me.”

When students hear from alumni, it helps them realize the high level of success they can attain with a Plattsburgh degree, said Dr. Nancy Church, distinguished service professor and marketing department chair.

Beyond that, the visits are an opportunity for students to network with alumni and potentially secure internships and professional positions as a result of meeting them, Church said.

Plattsburgh alumni are eager to stay in touch with their former professors and want to help current students, she said.

“Our alumni really want to give back to the college by coming back to share what they know with our students,” Church said. “It's a great bonding experience for all involved.”

‘Launching Pad’

As a student in the 80s, Tavino was president of SUNY Plattsburgh collegiate chapter of the American Marketing Association.

“It began to polish my demeanor,” he said of his time in the club.

That leadership opportunity prepared Tavino for his first job in sales following graduation and the managerial positions that came later on.

The education students receive at Plattsburgh gives them a “launching pad” into their futures, the alumnus said.

“At the end of the day, the lessons you learn here and what you do with it determines where you go in life.”

Other alumni who visited this semester as part of the ACE program:

  • Jon Bell ’77, director of the Indian River State College Hallstrom Planetarium
  • Matt Bergeron ‘99, associate council for New York State United Teachers
  • Kewsi Burgess ’13, teacher at Thomas O’Brien Academy of Science and Technology
  • Mike Capote ’10, operational procurement at ASML
  • Maura Danehey ’13, communications advisor for the U.S. Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • Katerina Gambino ’14, buyer at AngioDynamics
  • Katie Garenani ‘09, program manager for White House Information Technology in the Executive Office of the President
  • Emily Higgins '13, global inventory operations at GlobalFoundries
  • Christopher Huntley ‘13, deputy press secretary and deputy speechwriter for the Office of U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid
  • Nick Kimmerer '15, demand planner at GlobalFoundries
  • Melissa King ’81, chief learning officer and director of talent development for the Federal Aviation Administration
  • Sydney King ’15, operations supervisor at Exel
  • David Maness ’78, supervisor of the Sharpe Planetarium at the Pink Palace Museum
  • Shelly Ocasio’13, teacher at Bronx Preparatory Academy
  •  Dennis Racine ’92, senior director of sales and marketing at Textron
  • George Schock ’10, procurement manager at Keurig Green Mountain
  • Erik Schwind ’09, repair station account manager at Whippany Actuation Systems
  • Brad Smith ‘09, research analyst with SCS Financial
  • Dan Stapleton ’14, logistics buyer for National Grid

Faculty members who wish to nominate alumni for participation in the ACE program can contact the Office of Alumni Relations at 518-564-2090 or [email protected].

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