By Syracuse University
'Cuse ConversationsMay 16, 2023
How The Rising Popularity of Esports Led to Syracuse University’s Newest Degree Program
Electronic sports, or esports, has seen a remarkable spike in popularity over the years, with a recent study from Pew Research finding that 90% of teenagers between the ages of 13 and 17 play video games. Seeking to both capitalize on the tremendous popularity of esports and continue to innovate, expand career options in emerging fields and deliver academic programs that meet its students’ needs, Syracuse University will soon begin offering a new, first-of-its-kind degree program focused on esports. The program taps into the rapidly growing, multibillion-dollar esports industry, serving as a continuation of the work already happening on campus. Jeff Rubin, special advisor to the chancellor on esports and digital transformation, Olivia Stomski, professor of practice of television, radio and film and director of the Newhouse Sports Media Center, and Chris Hanson, associate professor of English in the College of Arts and Sciences, were on the University-wide task force charged with conducting the benchmarking that led to the creation of the esports program. Rubin, Stomski and Hanson reveal why the time was right for Syracuse University to add an esports degree program, share how the new academic offering will position students for success once they graduate, explain the research that went into creating this program and discuss the rapid growth of esports on campus.
Pursuing What Fulfills You: Ruchatneet Printup’s ’23 Nontraditional Journey to a Film Degree
Instead of feeling pride over being the first member of his family to earn a college degree, Ruchatneet Printup '23 felt trapped in a dead-end job that lacked purpose, meaning and fulfillment after earning a biomedical computing degree from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1988. More than three decades later, after embarking on an unconventional path that took him from an office job in Philadelphia to serving his community as a non-profit advocate on the Tuscarora Reservation, Printup was driving a truck delivering the Buffalo News when he had a life-changing epiphany. As he meditated, he realized he needed to pursue his passions and return to school to earn a film degree. This week, Printup will graduate from Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) with a film degree. One of 12 University Scholars, the highest undergraduate honor the University bestows, Printup has made the most of his second undergraduate experience. A Haudenosaunee Promise Scholar, Printup plans on using his degree to ensure more Native Americans' voices and stories are represented in film. Printup shares how he will make a difference as a film director, how the University's well-rounded course load made him a better storyteller, and why as soon as he walked into his first class at Syracuse he knew he was where he was meant to be. Printup, who says he had to venture outside of his comfort zone and become fearless while making the difficult adjustment of going back to college later in life, shares how he inspired his daughter, Gehnew, to follow his lead and pursue her dreams as a fashion design student in VPA.
Comparing Voter ID Laws in the US and UK With Gretchen Coleman '22
The United Kingdom is about to hold the country’s first elections where voters are required to show ID when they vote. The reason behind the policy change is a growing mistrust in the election process, and the new laws closely follow those in the U.S. Gretchen Coleman '22, who is currently pursuing a master's degree in political science, democracy and elections at the University of Manchester, has researched voter ID laws in the U.S. Now, she’s shifting her focus to U.K. elections, thanks to a Fulbright postgraduate award. Coleman will analyze materials sent to voters informing them of the policy change to examine how well-informed voters were about the policy shift. Coleman’s findings will be used for a report on how the U.K. can improve its elections. Coleman stops by to discuss her research and how she became interested in politics and elections, compares voter ID laws in the U.S. with the U.K., addresses the growing concern in the U.S. over voters not trusting election results, and shares how she wants to use this research to make election laws less discriminatory and more representative.
Lessons for the Next Climate Disaster
Extreme weather events like hurricanes, floods, and droughts are becoming more frequent in many places and more severe. These events can cause widespread damage and displacement, and they can be very difficult to recover from. On this episode, Elizabeth Carter, an assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering in the College of Engineering and Computer Science, digs into her own research on disaster response and mitigation. She talks about how we plan, prepare for and think about the changing climate, and why environmental issues are often tied to humanitarian crisis.
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month 2023
April is a time for the Syracuse University community to celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Community Coming Together: Strength in Unity," representing the University's diverse AAPI community uniting across our differences to demonstrate they are a strong voice that can face challenges together. It's an important and timely theme, especially following the challenges of the last three years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a troubling rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and bias incidents. On this student-centric 'Cuse Conversation, we hear from AAPI Planning Committee members MaryKate Keevins '24, who is studying television, radio and film in the Newhouse School and political science in the Maxwell School, and Lia Margolis ’23, a student in the School of Architecture. They discuss planning this year’s celebrations, why they wanted to get involved, what their cultural heritage means to them and how their time at Syracuse University helped them discover more about their identities.
Reconstructing the Lives and Genealogies of Enslaved People: Maxwell, iSchool Faculty Partner on Searchable Database
Beginning as early as the 15th century, the lives of more than 12.5 million men, women and children of African descent were forever altered as they were forced into the trans-Atlantic slave trade. Wanting to capture the important details found in these registries, Tessa Murphy, associate history professor in the Maxwell School, collaborated with Michael Fudge, a professor of practice in the School of Information Studies, and student research assistants on a unique, interdisciplinary research project to create a publicly accessible, searchable database of more than 16,000 former enslaved people in St. Lucia in 1815. The project, "Slavery in the Age of Abolition," uses slave registries to reconstruct the life histories and genealogies of people enslaved on the expanding frontiers of the British Empire. Murphy and Fudge discuss how the project came to be, the arduous task of compiling their database, the challenges of digitally capturing historical records from more than 200 years ago, how this database can serve as a teaching tool for the descendants of these former slaves, and how the project provided students in both Maxwell and the iSchool with valuable real-life experience.
Hall of Fame Sportscaster Bob Costas '74 Reflects on Career, Baseball and His Love of Syracuse University
Bob Costas '74 grew up idolizing New York Yankees' Hall of Fame outfielder Mickey Mantle, and he loved listening to baseball on the radio. When he arrived at Syracuse University in the fall of 1970, Costas just wanted to one day land a radio play-by-play job in baseball. Little did Costas know he would one day wind up in Cooperstown as a Major League Baseball Hall of Famer alongside Mantle and his childhood heroes. Costas' broadcasting career has included winning 28 Emmy Awards, calling 12 Olympics, and covering multiple World Series, Super Bowls and NBA Finals. On this 'Cuse Conversation, Costas discusses his love for baseball and the new rules changes meant to speed up the pace of play, reveals which broadcasters inspired him, remembers thinking his career was doomed to fail after hearing his first sportscast, shares how WAER and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications helped him develop his voice and his style, and relives his most memorable sportscasting moments.
Law Student Brianna Sclafani Highlights the Work of the Community Review Board
Brianna Sclafani L’23, G’23 is a 3L law student in Syracuse University’s College of Law, graduate student in the Maxwell School’s master of public administration program, editor-in-chief of the Journal of Global Rights and Organizations/Impunity Watch and chair of the University’s inaugural Community Review Board. The Community Review Board (CRB) was established in 2021 following an independent review of the Department of Public Safety (DPS) by former Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and is responsible for providing oversight for key DPS functions that impact the University community. Growing up in Newtown, Connecticut, and attending Virginia Tech as an undergraduate, Sclafani’s life has been irrevocably influenced by the gun violence that has impacted her communities. Her decision to pursue a career in law and her ongoing commitment to public service and giving back were inspired by these events. Sclafani discusses her experience as a student in the J.D./M.P.A. joint degree program, the work of the CRB, and ways students, faculty and staff can get involved in its mission to improve transparency, accountability and community relations on campus.
Thomas Wilson '23 is Fulfilling His Dreams Thanks to InclusiveU
Like most children, Thomas Wilson '23 grew up watching television. But his preferred shows weren't cartoons. Rather, he loved watching the local and national newscasts, dreaming of one day being a reporter. A senior studying broadcast and digital journalism in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and political science in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Wilson is now living out his dreams, thanks to Syracuse University and its InclusiveU program, which brings students of all ages with intellectual and developmental disabilities to campus to experience college life in a fully inclusive setting because of the Taishoff Center for Inclusive Higher Education. Wilson recently was named one of this year's recipients of the Unsung Hero Award in honor of the late Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. A news anchor on Citrus TV, Wilson is also the executive producer and creator of “Thomas on the Town”, a show where Wilson interviews University community members. He is a leader who inspires colleagues and community members to be better.
Reflecting on One Year Since Russia Invaded Ukraine
Feb. 24, 2023 marks one year since Russia invaded Ukraine. Professor Sean McFate teaches classes at Syracuse University's Maxwell School and Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. On this ‘Cuse Conversations podcast episode, McFate, one of Syracuse University's faculty experts on the war in Ukraine, discusses the anniversary of the war in Ukraine. McFate is one of the world’s leading experts on mercenaries, and he authored The New Rules of War: How America Can Win — Against Russia, China, and Other Threats. McFate also served as a paratrooper and officer in the U.S. Army’s 82nd Airborne Division under Stan McChrystal and David Petraeus.
Transforming First-Year Students Into Leaders Through the WellsLink Program
For the last 19 years, the WellsLink Leadership Program has transformed the lives of first-year students of color at Syracuse University through mentoring and a series of structured academic, social and cultural enrichment activities. Scholars like Josh Ortega '25 and Sophia Moore '25 achieve success and develop into leaders on campus through their time in WellsLink, a nationally-recognized leadership program. Ortega and Moore stop by to discuss how the program facilitated their transition from high school to college, how they honed their leadership and academic skills, how they thrived through hands-on peer mentoring, and why they are driven to make a positive impact in their communities through their experiences with WellsLink.
Super Bowl-Winning Head Coach Tom Coughlin '68, G'69 on Overcoming Adversity, Being Forever Orange
Tom Coughlin '68, G'69 is a two-time Super Bowl-winning head coach of the New York Giants who won 170 games during his NFL coaching career. A successful front office executive, Coughlin has a new book out, "A Giant Win," describing how, in Super Bowl 42, his Giants shocked the football world by knocking off Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in one of the greatest Super Bowls ever played. The book is a lesson in how to overcome adversity and how to respond when life hands you a setback. Coughlin, a three-year letter-winner on the football team under legendary Hall of Fame coach Ben Schwartzwalder, stops by to relive his coaching career, reminisce on those Super Bowl championships, and share why Syracuse University was his dream school. He gives his memories of playing alongside Orange football legends like Floyd Little '67, H'16 and Larry Csonka '68, explains why the No. 44 is the most special number at Syracuse, and discusses why he and his late wife, Judy, became passionate about helping families tackle childhood cancer through the Tom Coughlin Jay Fund Foundation.
National Champions! Catching Up With Men's Soccer Head Coach Ian McIntyre
Ian McIntyre took over the Syracuse University men’s soccer program in 2010, and the Orange won five matches combined over his first two years. But from the moment he assumed the role of head coach, McIntyre has been building up the program, and on Dec. 12, his team reached the pinnacle, claiming Syracuse's first national championship thanks to a thrilling win over Indiana University in penalty kicks. The dramatic performance in the championship of the College Cup was the perfect ending to the best season in school history, as the Orange claimed this year’s national championship, ACC postseason tournament title, and the ACC regular season division championship. McIntyre relives the night Syracuse was crowned champions of the collegiate soccer world, shares how his student-athletes and coaches celebrated their national title, recounts when he felt his team was capable of making a deep run in the postseason, discusses the vital role support from the campus community and alumni played in the team's postseason run, and more!
Lessons From Surviving a Heart Transplant With Author Emma Rothman '21
Emma Rothman '21 was 12 years old when she had a heart transplant. It’s easy to understand why Emma is still working to process everything that’s happened in her life to this point. In this ’Cuse Conversation, Emma talks about her health journey, her Syracuse University experience and how writing her book, "Things My Therapist Doesn't Want Me to Say: Ten Years Post Heart Transplant," has helped her process the challenges she’s faced in her young life and embrace something she spent a lot of time trying to hide—her heart transplant is a big part of who she is. Emma has started a non-profit, Hearts for Emma, and encourages people to sign up for the National Donate Life Registry.
Training the Next Generation of Inclusive Education Teachers in New York City Through the Bridge to the City Program
For the last 25 years, the School of Education has offered aspiring inclusive education teachers a unique opportunity to hone their skills as student teachers in New York City through the Bridge to the City program. It's an immersive, semester-long experience where student teachers are placed in partner schools in urban neighborhoods to learn under the watchful eye of cooperating teachers. Tom Bull, assistant teaching professor and director of field relations in the School of Education, directs the Bridge to the City program, while Abby Horton '19, a Bridge to the City alumna, landed her job teaching kindergarten and first grade at Midtown West School thanks in large part to her experiences with Bridge to the City. They discuss the program, how it helps train and prepare the next generation of inclusive education teachers, the valuable role the School of Education and Syracuse University have played in their lives, and more!
Peppie Calvar Discusses Holidays at Hendricks, Spreading the Light of Music Around the World
For more than a decade, hundreds of talented students in the Setnor School of Music in the College of Visual and Performing Arts entertain the Syracuse University community each December with live musical performances during Holidays at Hendricks. Jose "Peppie" Calvar is director of the Hendricks Chapel Choir and artistic director of Holidays at Hendricks, and he spends 18 months organizing each year's concert celebrations, which features two in-person concerts on Dec. 4 and a virtual concert performance on Dec. 11. Calvar stops by to discuss Holidays at Hendricks and what the student-led concerts mean to the University community, why Holidays at Hendricks is such a special celebration and what fans can expect from this year's performances. Calvar also shares the challenges of producing the first virtual Holidays at Hendricks during the COVID-19 pandemic, how he went from being an engineering student to pursuing a career in music and his passion for spreading choral music around the world through a series of international residencies.
No One Will Outwork Us: Get to Know New Women's Ice Hockey Coach Britni Smith
As she looks to make her mark on the Syracuse University women's ice hockey team, Britni Smith, just the second head coach in program history, is relying on a key principle that helped the Orange soar to new heights in recent seasons: No one will outwork the Orange. Smith comes to Syracuse with a decorated resume, excelling as both a defenseman with St. Lawrence University and an accomplished assistant coach at Clarkson University and with Hockey Canada. On this 'Cuse Conversation, Smith discusses why she wanted to become the Orange's next head coach, how she relates to her student-athletes, how she created a team-first culture and what makes Syracuse University a special place. Smith also shares her coaching philosophy, why she's a talented recruiter, what it was like to earn her first win with the Orange and how she fell in love with hockey while playing on a homemade rink in her hometown of Port Perry, Ontario.
Diane Schenandoah ’11 Shares Indigenous Principles and Practices as Honwadiyenawa’sek (One Who Helps Them) at the Barnes Center
Diane Schenandoah ’11 joined the staff at Syracuse University last July as Honwadiyenawa’sek—the Haudenosaunee word for “one who helps them.” Firmly rooted in her Haudenosaunee heritage—her mother was a clan mother of Oneida Nation’s wolf clan; her father an Onondaga Nation chief—Schenandoah brings teachings of gratitude, faith, peace and inner resilience to students who meet with her. As Honwadiyenawa’sek, she offers a range of healing modalities, including energy work and acupressure, art therapy, dream interpretation, tuning forks, and ritualistic smudging with sage and tobacco, to help students find their center in today’s hectic world. On this ’Cuse Conversation, Shenandoah shares about her life growing up on Oneida Nation lands with her close-knit family; her spiritual principles and practices; her role as faithkeeper; her art and singing careers; and her experience at Syracuse since joining the team at the Barnes Center.
How Supporting the United Way Employee Giving Campaign Makes a Difference in Central New York
The United Way of Central New York has been making a difference by providing residents with access to essential resources for 100 years, and the Syracuse University community has supported the United Way through its employee giving campaign since 1972. The campaign kicked off on Oct. 14 and runs through Dec. 16. On this 'Cuse Conversation, Michael Frasciello, dean of the College of Professional Studies and one of the co-chairs of the University’s employee giving campaign, discusses how making a donation of any size is guaranteed to help someone in need in our community. Frasciello shares why it's important for University employees to give what they can to help their neighbors, spotlights some of the fun and creative ways employees are supporting this effort, and how all gifts benefit the Central New York community through more than 70 unique and impactful programs and projects offered by the United Way's 28 nonprofit partners.
The Power of Holistic Healing and Wellness With Therapist and Entrepreneur Rachel Johnson '17, G'19
In her work as a therapist, Rachel Johnson '17, G'19 knew she was making a difference in the lives of her patients. But she also realized her work wasn't impacting an often overlooked segment of the population when it comes to mental wellness and holistic health: Black people. So she founded Half Hood Half Holistic in her adopted hometown of Syracuse as a holistic wellness business that allows Black individuals, couples and families to have the space to heal and work on their mental, physical and spiritual health. The author of the "Self Love Workbook for Black Women," Johnson discusses what holistic health means to her, what healing looks like for Black people, why it's important to debunk the stigmas and stereotypes associated with mental health services, how she helps make holistic healing accessible for all who seek it, the important role holistic healing plays in helping communities heal from racial harm, and how a program called Say Yes to Education helped Johnson hone her skills at Syracuse University.
The Challenges of Eldercare and Caregiving With Sociologist Mindy Fried '72, G'75
Mindy Fried ’72, G’75 is a sociologist, a teacher, an author and the creator, producer and host of “The Shape of Care” podcast. On the podcast, she tackles the topics of eldercare and caregiving in this country from a unique perspective—approaching her work through the lens of both her education as a sociologist and her experience a caregiver for her father before he passed away about a decade ago. Fried discusses her personal experience as a caregiver, the many issues facing caregivers and her connection to Syracuse University.
Mapping Syracuse University's Academic Future with Gretchen Ritter, Vice Chancellor and Provost, and Jamie Winders, Associate Provost for Faculty Affairs
The Syracuse University campus community is embarking on an important five-year journey of self-discovery and self-improvement, revamping its Academic Strategic Plan (ASP) to position itself as a leading global institution that attracts the best students and accomplished faculty who are respected thought leaders. The goals are ambitious: creating an unsurpassed student experience that is guided and informed by extraordinary scholarship, research and discovery. The stakes are high: determining how Syracuse University can improve its academic excellence at every level while fostering a sense of welcome and belonging and ensuring the distinctive excellence, accessibility, and collective success for all members of the campus community. Gretchen Ritter, vice chancellor and provost and chief academic officer, and Jamie Winders associate provost for faculty affairs, discuss the University’s revamped Academic Strategic Plan, how it can set Syracuse University up for sustained success, why members of the campus community should get involved in deciding the future of the University, and how this ASP differs from other higher education institutions.
Diabetes Advocate, Author and Podcaster Stacey Simms ’93
Stacey Simms ’93 is an award-winning podcaster and author who has been sharing stories, advice and news about diabetes on her Diabetes Connections podcast, through her blog and in two books: “The World’s Worst Diabetes Mom” and “Still the World’s Worst Diabetes Mom.” In this ’Cuse Conversation, she talks about her approach to raising a son with diabetes and how she’s found professional success as a trusted voice in this space. Stacey, who started her career in television news before moving to talk radio, also shares some strong thoughts about the business of broadcasting, including some pointed advice for young women in the industry, and talks about her experience at Syracuse University and the meaningful relationships she’s developed with the people during college.
Ashia Aubourg '18: Food Justice Advocate Helps Empower Communities Through Food
Food was always at the epicenter of Ashia Aubourg's '18 life, and she dreamed of being a chef until an experience at an award-winning restaurant in Boston helped Aubourg realize an important lesson: not everyone has the same access to food. Aubourg started thinking about food inequality and food justice, and headed to Syracuse University to be one of the first students in Falk College's fledgling food studies program. Today, Aubourg serves as the lead of Asana's global culinary program, blending her love of food and communications with a drive to empower her community. Aubourg discusses food justice and food insecurity and how these issues affect millions of Americans, how food plays an important role when it comes to social justice, healing and culture, how she's helping to mobilize Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC)-owned businesses to help everyone gain access to healthy and nutritious food, and how her time at Syracuse University helped fuel her passions.
Get to Know Ethan Bair, Hillel at Syracuse University's New Rabbi
As a student at Oberlin College, Ethan Bair experienced such a meaningful connection with Hillel and with his rabbi that he was inspired to become a rabbi. Something about building community and teaching the ways of the Torah to college students resonated with Bair, who earlier this summer was named Hillel at Syracuse University's new rabbi and will serve as Jewish chaplain at Hendricks Chapel. An accomplished Jewish community leader, Rabbi Bair shares how he assists with the holistic development of Syracuse University's Jewish students, why he's passionate about forming meaningful connections and impactful relationships with the campus community, the importance of finding your joy and passion, and why being part of the multi-faith community at Hendricks Chapel is such a blessing.
Studying Human Behavior and Turning Policy Into Practice to Address Food Insecurity
The Office of Community Engagement is hosting Food Insecurity Awareness Week to raise awareness about food insecurity issues on the Syracuse University campus and in the city of Syracuse. On this 'Cuse Conversation, we spotlight the incredible, data-driven work being done on campus to address food insecurity and food justice. Colleen Heflin, associate dean, chair and professor in the Maxwell School’s Public Administration and International Affairs (PAIA) department, and Len Lopoo, a Maxwell PAIA professor and Director of the Maxwell X Lab, explain how the Maxwell School and the Maxwell X Lab partner with respected public policy leaders on campus to study human behavior, turning policy into practice to combat food insecurity and other issues affecting our citizens.
Behind the Curtain with Former WWE Head Writer Brian Gewirtz '95
In his new book, "There’s Just One Problem… True Tales from the former, one-time, 7th most powerful person in WWE," Brian Gewirtz ’95 pulls back the curtain on professional wrestling by sharing “fascinating and hilarious” stories (those are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s adjectives!) from his fifteen-year career with the WWE. Gewirtz describes how earning The Rock’s trust first led to a job in professional wrestling and later to a senior vice president role with The Rock’s production company. It should come as no surprise that there’s a lot of Orange that weaves through Gewirtz's story.
Get to Know Bakeer Ganesharatnam, New Women's Volleyball Coach
For the first time in more than a decade, the Syracuse University women’s volleyball program has a new head coach: Bakeer Ganesharatnam, the seventh women's volleyball coach in school history. Ganesharatnam boasts an impressive coaching resume and has a reputation for helping student-athletes achieve success on the court and in the classroom. Ganesharatnam discusses what made the position so appealing, why he was the right person to lead the Orange, how he'll use analytics to help his team get better, how he develops a positive team culture, and why his team enjoys a unique home-court advantage.
Keeping Campus Safe: Get to Know Chief Craig Stone
What does it take to keep 21,000-plus students safe on a thriving residential campus located in the heart of an urban area? On this ’Cuse Conversation, we go behind the scenes with Craig Stone, associate vice president and chief of Campus Safety and Emergency Management Services, who joined Syracuse University this past spring. Campus safety is a critical undertaking on any college campus, and Stone and his team work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year to protect our community and ensure the University is a safe place to live, learn and work. Chief Stone discusses his new role and his background in campus safety and law enforcement; the priorities for his tenure as chief; how the Department of Public Safety (DPS) is engaging with community members this fall; common misconceptions about DPS; strategies for protecting yourself and your belongings on campus; and more.
Previewing Syracuse Welcome With Carrie Grogan Abbott G'03
Syracuse University is preparing for more than 4,000 first-year students to arrive on campus this week for Syracuse Welcome, the University’s new student orientation program. Syracuse Welcome represents the first steps in a student’s Syracuse University journey, and on this 'Cuse Conversation, Carrie Grogan Abbott G'03, director of New Student and Family Programs, discusses what students and their families can expect during Syracuse Welcome. Abbott shares tips and best practices to ensure move-in runs smoothly and highlights the important role the student volunteers known as the Goon Squad play in helping new students move into their room. Abbott addresses how this year's Syracuse Welcome will be different from years past, runs through the programming highlights from the week and explains why the New Student Convocation is a key component of Syracuse Welcome.
Room Décor Inspiration With Interior Decorator Amie Freling '89
Leaving behind your family and friends and embarking on your Syracuse University journey can feel daunting to both the student and their family members. As the University prepares to welcome thousands of first-year students to campus for Syracuse Welcome, we invited Amie Freling '89, a well-known interior decorator, home décor expert and social media influencer, to share her tips on how to take a residence hall room and make it feel like home. Freling, who earned a bachelor's degree in illustration and design from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, has a keen eye for taking spaces and sprucing them up, adding life and color to even the most drab of rooms. The owner and operator of Meme Hill Studios outside of Rochester, Freling discusses how to decorate a room on any budget, the importance of going vertical to maximize the room's space and storage, how accent pieces can make a room feel more welcoming, how to add color to any room and common mistakes for parents and students to avoid when it comes to decorating.
Helping Civilian Victims of War With Sana Bég ’04, Doctors Without Borders
More than 12 million Ukrainians have fled their home since Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded the sovereign nation on Feb. 24. Facing a violent present and an uncertain future, the fates of these women, children and elderly Ukrainians is up in the air. But one organization is providing medical assistance to these refugees: Médecins Sans Frontières, or Doctors Without Borders as it is known in the United States. Sana Bég ’04 is the director of communications for Doctors Without Borders in South Asia. Bég discusses how Doctors Without Borders assisted those Ukrainian refugees, the atrocities her organization witnessed while providing relief, and the toll the war has taken on these citizens. A proud member of an Orange Legacy family— Bég is one of four Syracuse graduates in her family— Bég shares how Syracuse helped her discover more about her identity and cultivate her storytelling skills, why she wanted to be a voice for the voiceless, and why she became forever curious.
Speech Language Pathologist Alex Middleton '22
As the United States celebrates Pride Month, the 'Cuse Conversations podcast wanted to spotlight the LGBTQ+ community here at Syracuse University. Alex Middleton '22 recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology from the communication sciences and disorders program in the College of Arts & Sciences. Alex discusses how they knew since middle school they wanted to be a speech pathologist, providing people with the voice to advocate for themselves. They share how a paperweight convinced them to travel across the country and pursue their speech pathology degree at Syracuse, and why the University’s LGBTQ resource center provided a home and a solid support system on campus. Note: This podcast includes discussion of potentially sensitive topics. Please listen with care.
Family, Football and Father's Day with Dino Babers, Head Football Coach
Dino Babers is a family man. Entering his seventh season as Syracuse University's head football coach, Babers has always preached the value and importance of family as Syracuse’s head coach. On a special Father's Day 'Cuse Conversation, Babers shares stories from a childhood spent growing up on a military base with a father, Luther, who served in the Navy for 21 years, how that upbringing influenced his coaching style and how his father taught him discipline. Babers also shares why he treats his football team as a second family (Babers admits he has "104 stepsons" under his watch) and how his life forever changed when the first of his four daughters, Breeahnah, was born.
Faith, Service and Community with Father Gerry Waterman, Catholic Chaplain
Father Gerry Waterman has been making a difference in the lives of Catholic students on the Syracuse University campus since 2016. As the University's Catholic Chaplain, Father Gerry brings people together for sermons and service, and he is proud to share his faith with the campus community. Father Gerry discusses how the Catholic Center provided a sense of community to Syracuse students during the pandemic, how a fateful encounter while out for a run convinced him to join the Syracuse University community, why he was beyond humbled to receive the Chancellor’s Forever Orange Award and why he's passionate about making wine.
Get to Know Mary Grace Almandrez, Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion
After spending the last 25 years in leadership roles in higher education, Mary Grace Almandrez takes over on June 1 as Syracuse University’s new vice president for diversity and inclusion. Almandrez discusses why she is so passionate about making the Syracuse University campus a welcoming place for all, shares what diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility means to her, and explains why the Filipino phrase "Bayanihan" (building community) has played such an important role in her life.
Celebrating Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month
April is a time for the Syracuse University community to come together and celebrate Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month. This year’s theme is “Regrounding: Celebrating Our Identity,” focusing on sharing and celebrating the pride, strength and joy demonstrated by our on-campus AAPI community. It’s an important theme, especially following the challenges of the last two years, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a troubling rise in anti-Asian hate crimes and bias incidents. On this student-centric 'Cuse Conversation, we hear from Merci Sugai G’22, the AAPI Planning Committee co-chair, and Hyejun Yoo ’22, who moderated the commemorative lecture Q&A with Michelle Zauner. They discuss planning this year’s celebrations, why they wanted to get involved and how their time at Syracuse University helped them discover more about their identities.
Trailblazing Women's Lacrosse Standout Katie (Rowan) Thomson '09, G'10
Katie (Rowan) Thomson '09, G’10 helped grow the Orange women’s lacrosse program into a perennial power during her four years on campus. An electrifying playmaker, Thomson graduated as Syracuse’s all-time leader in points (396) and assists (164). A three-time All-American, Thomson’s teams won the program’s first-ever NCAA tournament game in 2007 and later reached its first Final Four in 2008. Thomson became the first female lacrosse player and second female student-athlete to have her jersey retired when her No. 21 was raised to the Dome rafters on Feb. 20. Thomson shares how she was blown away by the honor of having her jersey retired, her favorite memories from her time with the Orange, and how she’s applying the lessons she learned at Syracuse to the next wave of talented Division I standouts as the head women’s lacrosse coach at the University at Albany.
Grammy Award winner Joanie Leeds '00
It’s a musical Cuse Conversation with Joanie Leeds '00, 2021 Grammy Award winner for best children’s music album. She teamed up with a female producer and several talented female musicians to create "All the Ladies, " an album designed to entertain, inspire, educate and empower.
Joanie shares the story of her journey and the chances, odd jobs and interesting gigs she took along the way to becoming a successful artist who creates music loved by children and their parents.
Learn about Joanie's spring/summer concert dates on her website and find her music on YouTube, Spotify and more.
Author, speaker and life coach David Essel '79
As a kid growing up in Utica, David Essel wanted to be an NBA star. While he walked on to the Syracuse University men's basketball team, his time at the University ultimately led him on a very different professional journey. He's built a successful career writing about and supporting people through addiction recovery, relationship difficulties, grief counseling and professional challenges. Visit his website to learn more about Essel's work. He is a big believer in the power of positivity, which has been both difficult to come by and more important than ever during the last two years of pandemic living. Essel talks about his education and experience at Syracuse University and his drive to help others in this 'Cuse Conversation.
NFL Network Host Andrew Siciliano '96
Andrew Siciliano '96 doesn't know how he got so lucky. Every Sunday is surreal as he brings highlights from around the NFL to millions of fans around the world as host of DIRECTV's RedZone Channel. As Super Bowl 56 approaches, Siciliano will be in Los Angeles as part of NFL Network’s coverage of the big game. On this 'Cuse Conversation, Siciliano discusses the Super Bowl and the role he will play for NFL Network. He shares the biggest ways Syracuse University and WAER impacted his broadcasting style, reveals the big break that launched his career, and gives advice to sportscasters looking to follow in his footsteps.
Fueling Team USA's Olympians with Dietitian Maggie McCrudden '14
The Winter Olympics are underway in Beijing, and Team USA’s top athletes have their sights set on winning gold on the world stage. But before these athletes compete, many of them work on developing healthy nutrition habits with Maggie McCrudden '14, the food and nutrition registered dietitian for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee who leads Team USA’s nutrition program. McCrudden, a former rower at Syracuse University, discusses how she developed a lifelong appreciation for food and its impact on our bodies, and how her approach to nutrition incorporates data and science with meeting people where they are. She shares how being a former Division I student-athlete helps her gain the trust of these Olympians, and why her four years at Syracuse University were truly transformative.
Jared Kraham '13: Binghamton's History-Making Mayor
When Jared Kraham '13 was sworn in as the mayor of Binghamton on Jan. 1, he made history as the youngest mayor in the city’s 220-year history. On this Cuse Conversation, Kraham shares how his time at Maxwell and Newhouse influenced him to become a politician, and why Syracuse University inspired him to join the next generation of policymakers and make a difference in his hometown. Kraham discusses the challenges of leading during COVID-19, how he convinced voters to entrust the future of their city to a 30-year-old, why his whole life was building up to serve as Binghamton's mayor, and why he was determined to help save Binghamton's minor league baseball team.
Rob McClanaghan '01 opens up
On the surface, Rob McClanaghan '01 seemed to be "living his best life." As a skills trainer for some of the NBA's biggest superstars, he was traveling the world in private jets, sitting courtside at big games and had just published a book about his work with the league's elite. But McClanaghan says that lifestyle was a "façade" that was hiding his struggles with anxiety and depression, something he kept quiet until sharing his story - including his 2019 suicide attempt - in a powerful essay in The Player's Tribune in December 2021.
In this 'Cuse Conversation podcast, McClanaghan talks about the importance of opening up and the impact his story has already had on so many people. He also explains how his hard work and resilience earned him a spot on the Syracuse University basketball team, shares some stories about his training career and, most important, emphasizes the importance of opening up and addressing mental health issues.
Yes! Recounting the career of Hall of Fame Sportscaster Marv Albert '63
When he was in the third grade, Marv Albert '63 decided he wanted to become a sportscaster. Albert followed his passion and studied journalism at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications. Before long, Albert was calling Syracuse Chiefs games alongside fellow Orange legend Carl Eilenberg H'53. But Albert's big break came when another all-time Syracuse great, Marty Glickman '39, hired Albert to be his researcher, spotter, statistician and backup announcer. After a decorated career that spanned 55 years and saw him call 13 NBA finals, eight Super Bowls and eight Stanley Cup finals, Albert retired following the 2021 NBA Eastern Conference Finals. On the latest Cuse Conversation, the Hall of Fame broadcaster discusses his legendary career, how he came up with his signature "YES!" call, how he found his voice at Syracuse University and on WAER, and why calling the 1992 Dream Team’s gold medal-winning performance stands out among a litany of amazing sportscasting moments.
Felisha Legette-Jack '89: Using Basketball to Transform Lives
Felisha Legette-Jack ’89 was a standout for the Syracuse University women's basketball team who recently became the University's first female student-athlete to have her jersey number retired high atop the Dome. Playing basketball and earning dual degrees in child and family studies and psychology transformed Legette-Jack's life, and now, Legette-Jack is helping to change the lives of her student-athletes as the head women's basketball coach at the University at Buffalo. Hear how Legette-Jack, who grew up in the shadows of the Dome, transformed her life thanks to her time at Syracuse University, why she wanted to establish a dominant women's basketball program on campus, how an injury opened her eyes to becoming a coach, and why she preferred playing in the intimate Manley Field House atmosphere compared to the Dome.
President of Pixar Animation Studios Jim Morris '77, G'78
Ever since he was a child, Jim Morris ’77, G’78 dreamed of creating visually appealing films that connect with audiences; as the president of Pixar Animation Studios, he is living out that dream. Forty-four years after his first animated film, Morris produced the Academy Award-winning Pixar hit "WALL-E," bringing his love of movies full circle. Morris, one of the 2021 Arents Award winners, reflects back on his distinguished award-winning career while discussing his favorite Pixar projects. He reveals how he abandoned his career as a local news cameraman to pursue his dreams, shares how Pixar navigated the challenges of COVID 19, addresses the growth of animation, and gets emotional talking about how Pixar's films change lives, especially for children with autism.
SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey G'93
Greg Sankey G’93 never forgot the important lessons he learned about leadership and crisis management during his pursuit of a master’s degree in education from Syracuse University's School of Education. As COVID-19 was threatening to shut down college athletics in the spring of 2020, Sankey, the commissioner of the Southeastern Conference, relied on his Syracuse education to guide one of the most powerful conferences in the NCAA through the global pandemic. Sankey reveals how those lessons learned at Syracuse University helped him lead the SEC through COVID-19, discusses the changing landscape of college athletics, shares the important place Syracuse holds in his life, and much more.
Bana Miller '04: Advocating for Veterans and their families
Bana Miller's '04 career focuses on advocating for our nation's veterans and their families. And with good reason, as Miller's husband is a veteran of the U.S. Army. Miller has seen first-hand the difficulties facing veterans and their families as they transition from active duty to civilian life. This summer, Miller was accepted into the 2021 Class of the George W. Bush Institute's Stand to Veterans Leadership program, one of a select group of executives from across different industries who are committed to serving the military connected community. Miller, who currently serves as director of marketing and communications for Team Red, White and Blue in Virginia, helps connect veterans to their community via physical and social activities. She discusses how being a Bush Institute scholar will further her efforts to make an impact for our veterans and the military-connected community, how she enjoyed a transformative experience at Syracuse University, and her best advice for current students.
Kevin Richardson H'20: From Wrongly Imprisoned to Criminal Justice Reform Advocate
When he was just 14 years old, Kevin Richardson H'20 and four of his friends were arrested and charged with raping and beating a white woman in Central Park. The case flamed racial tensions across the country, as Richardson and his friends, who would be known as the Central Park 5, were vilified in the media and deprived of their rights by the police during a three-day interrogation. Without forensic evidence, and despite their continued cries of innocence, the Central Park 5 were coerced into confessing to these crimes, serving anywhere from five to 12 years in a juvenile detention facility or a prison. In 2002, thanks to DNA evidence and a confession from the real perpetrator, Richardson was finally released after serving more than seven years. Richardson shares how his faith got him through those trying times, how he and the Exonerated 5 are making a difference and reforming the criminal justice system through their work with The Innocence Project, and how receiving an honorary bachelor of fine arts degree from Syracuse University this fall is the realization of a dream delayed 32 years.
Jeff Rossen '98: A Reporter's Reflections on the 20th Anniversary of 9/11
Jeff Rossen '98 has established himself as one of television's top consumer reporters through his "Rossen Reports" series. He's won awards for his work on NBC's Today Show and as Hearst Television's national consumer correspondent.
On Sept. 11, 2001, Rossen was a rookie reporter for WABC-TV in New York City. In this 'Cuse Conversations podcast, he talks about what he experienced and what he learned reporting on 9/11 in Lower Manhattan two decades ago.
NFL RedZone Host Scott Hanson '93
Scott Hanson '93 has enjoyed a decorated sportscasting career since graduating with a broadcast journalism degree from Newhouse in 1993. But the role that he's best known for is hosting NFL RedZone, the live, whip-around the league show dedicated to providing fans of all 32 teams with an up close look at every touchdown, every big highlight, and every dramatic finish. It’s a unique role for Hanson, a former walk on and four-year member of the Orange football team. For seven consecutive, commercial-free hours each Sunday during the regular season, Hanson acts as the eyes, ears, and voice of the NFL through his fast-paced and frenetic show. It's a role Hanson's been training for ever since he was a child. Hanson discusses how he prepares for his hosting duties, how a persistent letter writing campaign to Coach Dick MacPherson earned Hanson a spot as a walk-on for those talented Orange football teams of the late 80s and early 90s, and, of course, his legendary iron bladder as Hanson has only taken one bathroom break during his 13 years hosting NFL RedZone.
JetBlue's Kevin Dong '09, G'11 Found his Wings at Syracuse University
Kevin Dong '09, G'11 didn't know what direction he wanted to take his career, until a transformative experience at Syracuse University helped Dong find his wings. An operations analyst for JetBlue Airways, Dong collects and studies data and feedback from customers to improve the flying experience. Dong discusses how COVID-19 impacted the airlines and how the airlines are working to make customers feel safe when they fly, how Syracuse helped him discover his voice, how the loss of his father to cancer inspired him to give back to his community, his advice for students and more!
Ola Idowu '14: Providing Mentorship Opportunities to Young Black Professionals
Ola Idowu '14 knows the important role mentors play in the life of young professionals. Idowu, who works in internal events at Twitter, is also the CEO of Sisters in Media, which provides mentor opportunities to young Black professionals seeking a career in media. Through networking events, job postings and a vibrant network of talented mentors, Idowu's company makes it easier to highlight the resources available to these underserved communities. Idowu discusses her motivation for creating Sisters in Media, her struggles finding a mentor who looked like her, how finding the right mentor can have a life-changing impact, her best networking tips, and her advice for maintaining one's mental health and well-being.
Matt Zeller G'06: Rescuing our Allies in Afghanistan
U.S. Army veteran Matt Zeller G’06 wouldn't be alive if it weren't for the heroic actions of Janis Shinwari, the interpreter who intervened when Zeller's unit was ambushed in Afghanistan. Now, Zeller is fighting to save thousands of U.S. allies who played a pivotal role for the military in fighting the Taliban through an organization he co-founded, No One Left Behind. Zeller discusses the efforts to rescue these allies, who are being hunted down and killed by the Taliban for supporting the U.S. Zeller relives how Shinwari saved his life, shares how the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks motivated him to enlist, and reveals why he owes everything to Syracuse University.
Chasing Olympic Dreams with Track Star Justyn Knight '18
For someone who didn't start competitively racing until his sophomore year of high school, Justyn Knight '18 certainly has made quite the impression. Knight is the most decorated distance runner in Syracuse University history, winning two individual NCAA titles (in cross country and the 5,000-meter indoor race) and 11 individual ACC championships while earning 10 All-American honors. Knight will showcase his talents before a global audience when he competes for a medal in the 5,000 meters with Team Canada during the upcoming Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Knight enters the Olympics a man on a mission. He shares how he altered his training regimen during COVID-19, the difficulty of training his body and mind for the Olympics, how the sting of missing out on the 2016 Olympics by less than one second fueled him over the last five years, and why he discovered a unique family atmosphere and sense of community at Syracuse University.
Chris Lewis '13: Summer Olympics Voice of Table Tennis
Ever since he attended a sports broadcasting summer camp as a teenager, Chris Lewis '13 dreamed of pursuing a career in sports broadcasting. Thanks to his strong storytelling skills, Lewis will take that next step in his broadcasting career on one of the biggest stages: the Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Lewis will make his Olympic broadcasting debut as NBC's official voice of its table tennis coverage. Lewis, who was active with Citrus TV, Z89 and WAER as a Syracuse University student, is the longtime radio voice for Boise State Athletics. He discusses how he landed the role of a lifetime, how he is preparing for this latest broadcasting challenge, the lessons he learned from his time at Syracuse University and his advice to aspiring broadcasters. He also debunks the stick to sports philosophy and shares how he serves as a voice for social justice issues.
Covering COVID-19 and Indigenous Issues with Reporter Jourdan Bennett-Begaye G'16
Jourdan Bennett-Begaye G’16 serves as managing editor of Indian Country Today, a national multimedia news publication covering Indigenous issues, including the COVID-19 global health pandemic. With a background in public health, Bennett-Begaye created a real-time COVID-19 database that tracked the number of cases, tests, vaccinations and deaths among Native American communities, the first database of its kind to benefit Indigenous people. Bennett-Begaye discusses her work developing this invaluable database, how COVID-19 impacted Native American communities differently, the culture of mistrust around the vaccine on reservations, why she transitioned from being an athletic trainer to a journalist, how she discovered a strong Native American support system on Syracuse University's campus, her social activist roots and more.
Ryan McNaughton '96: New Syracuse University Alumni Association President
Ryan McNaughton '96 still vividly remembers the Tuesday night, while watching television with his parents, he determined Syracuse University was going to be the place for him to attend college. Now, as McNaughton begins his two-year term as president of the Alumni Association and Syracuse University Trustee, learn more about the origins of his Orange pride and passion, his career in broadcasting and beyond and his plans to connect more alumni with their alma mater.
Serving up Love and Soul with Chef Derrell Smith '10, G'13
When Derrell Smith '10, G'13 was at Syracuse University, he excelled as a linebacker on the football team and was known for forcing fumbles and causing chaos on the field. Today, his cooking show, "Mad Good Food," blends preparing and enjoying delicious meals with telling stories that are representative of Black culture. Smith discusses why cooking is about more than just eating a good meal, it’s about emphasizing community and spending time with loved ones. He shares how he serves up love and soul through his dishes, how the strong females in his family brought out his culinary skills, the role Syracuse University played in his career as a chef, why he ties in social justice issues to his cooking, how he felt right at home the first time he stepped onto the Syracuse University campus, and why he is proud to be Forever Orange.
Episode 80: Chris Williamson '14: From Orange Walk-on to NY Sports Anchor
Chris Williamson ’14 is a former walk-on with the Orange football team, a product of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and an anchor for SportsNet New York (SNY) who has discovered a life equation that works for him: Authentic Voice + Powerful Platforms = Meaningful Purpose. In this ’Cuse Conversation, Williamson talks about what brought him to Syracuse University, lessons he’s learned in his fast-rising broadcast career and why he prefers to have a difficult and uncomfortable conversation than to “stick to sports.”
Kevin Michael Richardson '88: Talented Voiceover Actor
Growing up in the Bronx, Kevin Michael Richardson ’88 developed a knack for studying other people's voices. Richardson loved to impersonate characters from his favorite television shows and movies, and would entertain his friends and family members with his spot-on impressions. Today, Richardson is one of the best known voiceover talents in the world with more than 530 credits to his name, including animated TV shows like “Family Guy,” “The Simpsons,” "The Cleveland Show," “Sponge Bob Square Pants,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,” “American Dad,” and more. Richardson shares how he went from a classically trained actor to the world of voiceovers, his all-time favorite voiceover roles, how Syracuse University pushed him to pursue his dreams of being an entertainer, how he honed his voiceover skills impersonating Barry White as a child (complete with his best Barry White impression), and more!
Episode 78: Katie Zaffrann '04: Actor, Singer, Human Being
From musical theatre to Shakespeare, Katie Zaffrann ’04 has performed it all. While the pandemic has put those professional performances on hold, Katie's spent the last year learning a new role - mom. In this 'Cuse Conversation, Katie will share her experiences as a professional musician and actor, talk about what she's learned during the pandemic and open up about the importance of discussing anxiety and mental health.
Visit Katie's website to learn more about her impressive career; check out the Greenhouse Music site to learn more about the online conservatory program.
Episode 78 Audio and Transcript (coming soon). Total run time: 36:25.
Kate Ryan '22: Rower Committed to Eradicating Mercury from Water
Kate Ryan ’22 is a rower studying biology and ecology at Syracuse University. She's a driven STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) scholar who wants to solve the growing problem of mercury exposure in our waters. Before the pandemic, Ryan was among a select group of Syracuse honors students chosen to attend the prestigious Conference of the Parties to the Minimata Convention on Mercury in Geneva, Switzerland. Ryan, who has always loved being around water, shares why she's passionate about ecology and solving the mercury issue, how being a student-athlete has helped with her time management skills, the expectations for the eighth-ranked women's rowing team at the upcoming ACC championships, why she was drawn to study at and row competitively for Syracuse, and more. Give it a listen!
Journalist Mitchell Kuga '09: Learning to Embrace Your Identity
Mitchell Kuga '09 is a fourth generation Japanese American, and he also self-tokenizes as a queer Asian person. As part of Syracuse University's Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month celebrations, we tell Kuga's story of struggling to embrace his identity. Kuga discusses using writing to learn more about himself, overcoming the tension that came with growing up as a Japanese American and a queer Asian person, how Syracuse University helped him come to terms with his identity, and how he's seen the Asian American community rally together during this recent rash of bias incidents.
Allison Deegan '80: Transforming Young Women's Lives Through WriteGirl
Amanda Gorman mesmerized the country with her passionate recital of her poem, "The Hill We Climb" during the inauguration of President Joe Biden L'68 and Vice President Kamala Harris. Before she captured a nation, Gorman was another at-risk young girl from Los Angeles who had her life transformed by WriteGirl, a writing and mentoring program that launched in 2001 thanks in part to Allison Deegan '80. Each year, more than 500 girls in grades 8 through 12 hone their writing skills, discover their voice and develop into college-bound young women thanks to this mentoring program, which has placed 100 percent of its participants in college. It's the type of program Deegan would have enjoyed and benefitted from when she was growing up, and it's a remarkable story of how this program is putting these at-risk young women on a path to lifelong success. Deegan discusses how WriteGirl empowers these teenagers, how the program helps them become confident leaders, how COVID-19 helped WriteGirl expand its reach across the country, and the important role Syracuse University has played in her life.
Joe Castiglione G'70: Radio Voice of the Boston Red Sox
In the rich, storied history of the Boston Red Sox, one voice has called more games on the radio than anyone else: Joe Castiglione G'70, who has been the voice of the Red Sox since 1983. Castiglione was the first broadcaster to proclaim “The Boston Red Sox are World Series champions" after they snapped an 85-year championship drought by winning it all in 2004, and he has been on the mic for four World Series championships over the last 16 years. With the start of the Major League Baseball season around the corner, Castiglione discusses the challenges of calling games during the pandemic, how he became passionate about sports play-by-play and how Syracuse University and WAER helped him find his voice. He also recalls the time he broadcast a triple overtime basketball game between Jim Boeheim ’66, G’73, Dave Bing ’66 and Syracuse vs. Colgate and shares his advice for aspiring broadcasters.
Jacqueline Welch '91: New York Times Executive VP and Chief HR Officer
Jacqueline Welch '91 is a highly successful human resources professional and award-winning leader in diversity, equity and inclusion. Welch's leadership style concentrates on a company's moral obligation to the employees while focusing on the human in human resources, a field that has forever been impacted by COVID-19. Welch discusses how the pandemic has altered workplace environments and attitudes towards remote work, how she came to embrace a non-traditional human resources view, how a Syracuse co-op experience led her to become a human resources professional, and the lasting impression that Syracuse University African American studies associate professor Dr. Janis Mayes made on her during her time at Syracuse.
Maria Palmer '03: Author and Community Advocate
Growing up in Pittsburgh, Maria Palmer '03 idolized her father, Joseph Costanzo Jr., the owner of the popular Primadonna Restaurant who reinvented himself by building a world-renowned Italian restaurant. Costanzo was rose to fame as a successful restaurateur who was heavily involved in the Pittsburgh community, but he experienced a sharp fall, eventually serving time in a federal prison for tax evasion. It was an eye-opening incident for Palmer, whose upcoming book, On the Rocks, recounts her father's rise and fall. Having an incarcerated father ignited a passion in Palmer to advocate for marginalized members of society. It's a far cry from the career Palmer envisioned when she was studying public relations at Syracuse University. Palmer shares why she's driven to help those less fortunate as a community advocate, her work connecting children with their incarcerated parents, how Syracuse influenced her career, and how she's making a difference for at-risk citizens in Paterson, N.J. as a grant writer/development associate for St. Paul’s Community Development Corporation.
Tia Thevenin '18, L'23: From Olympic Hopeful to Aspiring Lawyer
Tia Thevenin '18, L'23 was a standout hurdler on the Syracuse University track and field team during her time on campus. Before COVID-19, Thevenin entertained dreams of qualifying for the Summer Olympics in the 100-meter hurdles. But after COVID postponed the Tokyo Olympics, Thevenin decided to walk away from track and focus on her other passion: making the legal system more accessible for disenfranchised citizens by studying at Syracuse University's College of Law. Thevenin also sees a future in sports and entertainment law or corporate law. Whichever direction her legal career heads, she is striving to do the greatest good for the greatest number. On this 'Cuse Conversation, Thevenin shares why how she became interested in making the justice system more accessible for disenfranchised citizens, her passion for helping those less fortunate, why trading in her track spikes for a law career was the most difficult decision of her life, and how Syracuse University helped redefine her perspective.
Bershan Shaw '95: Inspiring Others After Beating Terminal Cancer Diagnosis
Bershan Shaw ’95 was given a death sentence in 2009 when she learned she had stage four breast cancer, the cancer that killed her mother. Rather than wallow in pity over her second cancer diagnosis in three years, Shaw used this devastating news as a wakeup call, choosing to thrive in the face of adversity. Shaw turned her pain into purpose, reinventing herself through a healthier lifestyle, daily affirmations and a positive mindset. Today, Shaw is celebrating 12 years being cancer-free, and she aims to inspire others to transform their lives, overcome their obstacles and never give up on their dreams. A leadership coach, motivational speaker, women’s empowerment advocate and reality TV star, Shaw shares her Warrior Way, how her cancer diagnosis was a gift, why Oprah Winfrey chose to tell her story on the reality TV show "Love in the City," why she loves telling the stories of successful women, and how Syracuse University taught her she could accomplish anything.
First a Cancer Diagnosis, then a Community Created
When Caroline Koller '15 started suffering from persistent, debilitating pain, she began desperately seeking out a place to find answers. After a cancer diagnosis and extensive treatment, Caroline founded femUNITY—a community and crowdsourcing platform for women to discuss their health and wellness questions, thoughts and experiences. It was the platform she had been looking for, but never found. We sit down with Caroline and her sister Laurie Beth Koller '18 for an emotional discussion on how navigating this negative experience has inspired the sisters to ensure other women have support no matter what health challenge they're facing. It's called femUNITY, and Caroline and Laurie Beth hope fellow 'Cuse alumnae will feel the community's welcome embrace.
Quentin Hillsman: Turning Women's Basketball Into a Perennial Power
Since taking over the Syracuse University women’s basketball program, head coach Quentin Hillsman has transformed the Orange into a national championship contender during his 15 seasons. Hillsman, the winningest coach in program history, has led the Orange to unprecedented heights, including the program’s first appearance in the NCAA Division I title game, seven trips to the NCAA Tournament, 18 all-conference selections, five All-Americans and four WNBA Draft picks. Hillsman, who recorded win number 300 with the Orange last February, discusses transforming the program into a national power, using basketball to bring out the best in his student-athletes, playing games during the pandemic, how star Tiana Mangakahia’s recovery from stage 2 breast cancer is inspiring the team, his snazzy fashion sense and more.
Improving Mental Health and Well-Being with Olivia Bowser '16
Olivia Bowser ’16 owns and operates Liberate, a mental wellness studio that is on a mission to bring people together through movement, community, and mindfulness. Bowser, a certified meditation and mindfulness teacher, wants to take mental wellness mainstream, helping people reach their full potential and become their best selves. Bowser shares how she pivoted careers and reinvented herself by launching Liberate during the pandemic, how she learned to become more resilient, her tips for dealing and coping with anxiety, how Syracuse University influenced her career, and the best piece of advice she ever received.
Finding her Identity with Malaka Gharib '08: NPR Journalist, Author, Cartoonist
Growing up, Malaka Gharib '08 struggled to find her identity as a first-generation American and didn't know how to balance embracing her Egyptian and Filipino roots with assimilating into American culture. Eventually, Gharib learned it was up to her to define her cultural identity. Today, Gharib covers the global health beat for NPR and is an award-winning author, illustrator and cartoonist. Gharib is also the author of "I Was Their American Dream: A Graphic Memoir" and is working on a new book, "It Won't Always Be Like This." Gharib discusses how she found her identity, her adjustment to life in the U.S., what it has been like reporting on the pandemic, how Syracuse University prepared her for a career as a journalist, and the most valuable piece of advice she ever received at SU.
Chris Snow '03: Calgary Flames Asst. GM Battling ALS
Chris Snow '03, the assistant general manager of the NHL's Calgary Flames, is engaged in the fight of his life as he battles ALS, the degenerative disease that has already taken the lives of Snow's father, two uncles and a cousin. Snow, who was diagnosed in June of 2019, was given a "death sentence" of 12-18 months to live, but he is making remarkable strides in his battle thanks to an experimental gene therapy that is slowing the progression of this deadly disease. Snow discusses how the gene therapy is making a difference, why he is grateful for every day, how his wife, Kelsie, and their two children have served as his support system, and how he has maintained a positive outlook through it all. Snow also shares why he transitioned from a sports journalist to a front office executive, how Syracuse University and The Daily Orange influenced his career, and why he proudly bleeds Orange.
John Murphy '78: Radio Voice of the Buffalo Bills
For more than three decades, John Murphy '78 has worked in the Buffalo Bills' radio booth, broadcasting NFL games to Bills fans around the world. While Bills Stadium is usually filled with raucous fans, this year has been different, as Murphy has called home games before an empty stadium while doing road games from Buffalo with the help of the television broadcast due to COVID-19. As Buffalo prepares to host a home playoff game for the first time in 25 years, Murphy reflects on his career as a sports broadcaster and his path to the NFL, the challenges of calling games during the pandemic, the success of the long woebegone Bills, how Syracuse University influenced his career, his favorite memories from Syracuse and his advice to aspiring sports broadcasters.
Emma Simches ’18: Certified Child Life Specialist
As a certified child life specialist, Emma Simches ’18 supports children dealing with illnesses and their families. Through her work with Team IMPACT, Simches matches children with college student-athletes and coaches to form unique relationships. Simches makes a difference in the lives of these children, and on this 'Cuse Conversation, Simches discusses her career, how Team IMPACT is a win-win for both the children and the partner student-athletes and coaches, why she's passionate about this line of work, and why she always knew she would study at Syracuse.
Career Services Advice with Jenna Collins G'19 and Russ Terry G'00
Wherever you are on your career journey, the Office of Alumni Engagement has resources to help advance your career. On this 'Cuse Conversation, Jenna Collins G'19, the associate director of alumni professional development in the Office of Alumni Engagement, discusses the launch of our redesigned #HireOrange job board — where alumni can post jobs and search openings around the world. Collins also highlights the revamped career services offerings available to alumni and shares an exclusive new career design fellowship with Mission Collaborative. Russ Terry G'00, the featured career coach for December, then offers pointers for alumni who lost their jobs or are looking to switch careers, shares how he transitioned from a sports reporter to a life coach, discusses why he focuses on the holistic approach to being a life coach, and more.
Brandon Steiner '81: King of Sports Collectibles
By his own admission, Brandon Steiner ’81 wasn’t a great student. He was – and continues to be – a great learner. When he attended Syracuse University, Brandon was determined to get as much as he could out of his education and the college experience. Today, the proud alumnus is a leader in the sports collectible industry with Steiner Sports and Collectible Exchange, an author and a motivational speaker who makes a point to stay connected with and give back to his alma mater.
Chris Licht '93: News & Entertainment Power Producer
When Chris Licht '93 came to Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, he thought he was setting off on a path to become a television news anchor but when he entered the world of journalism, he discovered a passion - and a tremendous skill - for producing. His professional journey has taken him to the top of the mountain in both the news and entertainment industries. His resume includes being the first executive producer on "Morning Joe" on MSNBC, launching "CBS This Morning" as executive producer in 2012 before taking over the network's "Late Show with Stephen Colbert" as executive producer and showrunner in 2016. In this 'Cuse Conversation, Chris talks about his successful career, his Syracuse University education and experience, and the responsibility he feels as an alumnus.
Matthew Berry '92: Fantasy Football Guru
Matthew Berry '92 is one of the best known and most respected voices in the world of fantasy sports. Better known as the Talented Mr. Roto, Berry has carved out an impressive career discussing fantasy football as the Senior Fantasy Sports analyst at ESPN. After graduating from Newhouse with a degree in producing for electronic media, and at a time when fantasy sports were starting to rise in popularity, Berry seized on the opportunity and has been helping fantasy owners set their lineups ever since. A best-selling author, Emmy winner and member of two fantasy sports Halls of Fame, Berry shares how he became the king of fantasy football after a career as television and film writer in Hollywood, the growth of fantasy sports, how he became fascinated with fantasy sports as a teenager, how he honed his writing style at Syracuse and learned to write on deadline as a humor columnist with The Daily Orange, some of the weirdest places where people ask him for fantasy lineup advice, and much more!
Eric Devendorf '09: Dishing out Assists in the Community
Fans of Syracuse University basketball got to know Eric Devendorf ’09 on the basketball court – knocking down shots and talking trash, a role he’s reprised as an anchor member of Boeheim’s Army in the TBT. Members of the Syracuse community have gotten to know Devendorf off the court – organizing winter coat drives, hosting free basketball clinics and delivering hundreds of Thanksgiving dinners to families in need. In this ’Cuse Conversation, Devendorf talks about his special relationship with this community, the new podcast he’s hosting, what made a kid from Michigan ultimately choose Orange over Spartan green and much more.
Elizabeth Strout L'82: Pulitzer Prize-Winning Author
From an early age, Elizabeth Strout L'82 was fascinated with seeing life through someone else's perspective, so it's no surprise she envisioned a career in writing, penning works of fiction as a teenager. Upon arrival at Syracuse University's College of Law, Strout aspired to be a lawyer during the day and an author at night. While her legal career was short-lived after graduating cum laude from Syracuse, Strout's writing career has taken off. An accomplished and acclaimed novelist, Strout's books have garnered major literary awards, including a Pulitzer Prize for "Olive Kitteridge" in 2008, which was adapted into an Emmy Award-winning mini-series starring Frances McDormand. Strout discusses how she creates her characters and the authors who inspire her, reveals how she was virtually the last person to know about the Pulitzer Prize, and shares how Syracuse shaped her development both as a person and as an author by teaching her to think differently.
Dave Bing '66, H'06: Attacking the Rim in Basketball and Life
College All-American, basketball Hall of Famer, founder and CEO of Michigan’s largest steel company, Detroit mayor, life-changing mentor – those are just some of the titles Dave Bing ’66 has had during an illustrious career. In his new memoir, “Attacking the Rim,” Bing talks about the trademark drive, spirit and philosophy that propelled him for success on and off the court. He shares stories about his life and lifelong connection to Syracuse University in this ’Cuse Conversation.
Patrick Garrigan '01: Global Head of Bloomberg Live
When Patrick Garrigan '01 was studying musical theater at Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts, he learned to be fearless, to think audaciously, and to go after what he wanted in life. Those core tenets have served him well as Garrigan has carved out a successful career in the communications field, including his current job as Global Head of Bloomberg Live at Bloomberg Media Group. Garrigan discusses how the COVID-19 global pandemic affected his job, how he transitioned from a musical theater major to a creative communications and marketing professional, why he loves producing live news events, how Bloomberg relies on a data-driven approach to communicate the news to its audience, and why he's grateful for the lessons learned and the people he met at Syracuse University.
Greg Allen '73 and the Syracuse 8
In the spring of 1970, Greg Allen '73 and seven of his teammates on the Syracuse University football team, frustrated at how they were treated by the football coaches, sacrificed their shot at glory and took a stand for equality by boycotting spring practices. Among their demands: a more diverse and integrated coaching staff, equal access to academic support and medical care, and playing assignments determined by merit and not the color of their skin. When their demands were denied, the Syracuse 8 decided to sit out the 1970 season, putting their desire to right the wrongs they observed ahead of their own personal glory. Allen, who was recruited to follow in Syracuse's long line of talented running backs, discusses the racial climate on campus back then, why the Syracuse 8 fought to ensure life was better for future generations of students, how their efforts ultimately led to change at Syracuse University, how they laid the foundation for future athletes to take a stand for social justice, and the role faith and forgiveness played in the healing process with his alma mater.
John Dellas '77: Varsity Pizza Co-Owner
If you’re a Syracuse University alumnus, you probably haven’t heard of John and Jerry Dellas, but chances are good that you’ve been inside one of their restaurants before. John and Jerry co-own the Varsity, which has occupied the same location at the corner of Marshall St. and Crouse since its founding in 1926, when John and Jerry’s grandfather, Jerry Dellas, built the Varsity. From its humble beginnings, the Varsity has evolved into a staple for Syracuse University Alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the Orange for nearly 100 years. John Dellas '77 discusses how the Varsity came to play such a prominent role, how former head football coach Dick MacPherson came up with its most famous tradition of flipping over the opposing football team's banner whenever Syracuse gets a win, and the lessons he learned from his days as a Syracuse student.
Ben Clymer '05: Founder and CEO of Hodinkee
What started with a surprise gift from his grandfather led to quite the career for Ben Clymer '05, the founder and CEO of Hodinkee. After receiving his grandfather’s OMEGA Speedmaster watch, Clymer began blogging about vintage watches in 2008, and he quickly discovered there was a tremendous market out there for content about watches. Today, Hodinkee has grown from a one-man shop to a company with more than 60 employees. Hodinkee buys and sells new and vintage watches as part of its growing e-commerce arm of the business, while featuring a print magazine, a podcast, and a series of videos with watch aficionados like musician John Mayer, actor Fred Savage, comedian Aziz Ansari, and golfers Jack Nicklaus and Greg Norman. Clymer, who holds dual degrees from Whitman and the iSchool, discusses his passion for watches, his keys to growing Hodinkee, the role Syracuse University played in his career, and how smart watches will help keep us healthy.
Supporting the Our Time Has Come Scholarship
Since its founding in 1987, the Our Time Has Come Scholarship has changed the lives of more than 1,500 Black and Latino students at Syracuse University. On this 'Cuse Conversation, current scholar Sofia Rossi '22 shares how the scholarship has made an impact on her life, helped her find her community at Syracuse and cultivated her leadership skills. Rachel Vassel '91 and Maria Lopez '05, G'12 with the Office of Multicultural Advancement provide historical context on the scholarship, discuss why it is an important opportunity for Black and Latino/LatinX students to connect with notable alumni, and share how alumni can support this scholarship.
Hattie Taylor '17: Olympic Rowing Hopeful and Youth Mentor
Hattie Taylor '17 felt lost living in Melbourne, Australia on her gap year between high school and college when she was approached by a women's rowing coach from Syracuse University. Intrigued by the recruiting pitch, Taylor, a native of the United Kingdom, went on to earn a political science degree as a four-year member of the women's rowing team. An All-American, Taylor credits rowing with bringing purpose and direction to her life. She uses those lessons of resiliency and overcoming adversity when mentoring young adults in the United Kingdom. Taylor reminisces about Syracuse, why she relishes the school pride associated with being an alumna, the joy she felt qualifying for the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics, and how she's motivated to requalify after COVID-19 delayed the Games.
Selena Saldana '05: V.P. of Publicity, FilmNation Entertainment
When it comes to your favorite films, the actors and actresses deliver memorable performances, and the screenwriters put together an entertaining script. But before you see the movie, Selena Saldana’s '05 job is to market these films to a wide audience. Saldana, the vice president of publicity for FilmNation Entertainment, has promoted films at the Oscars and nearly every major film festival from Sundance and Cannes to London and Toronto. Saldana shares her fascinating career journey, which has included handling publicity for Oprah Winfrey’s multimedia production company, Harpo Productions, and the Weinstein Company. She shares how COVID-19 has impacted her job, the best advice she ever received, why Syracuse University was the only school she applied to, and how her life was forever changed by a semester abroad in Australia.
Joshua Weiss '91: Negotiation & Conflict Resolution Specialist
Whether you’re trying to land a big business deal, angling to get a raise or just trying to get your teenager to do some chores, you can probably pick up a few tips from Joshua Weiss, a 1991 Syracuse University graduate. Joshua’s latest book, “The Book of Real World Negotiations,” breaks down strategies that will help you get through those often difficult discussions. From high stakes matters of global policy to dinner table debates over who’s going to clean up the dishes, there are some surprisingly common threads that – when understood – can help lead to resolution. In this 'Cuse Conversation, Joshua talks about what brought him to Syracuse University, the tips and tricks of successful negotiations and what it means to be a part of the Orange family.
David Parks '83: Executive Producer/Director, Sports and Daytime Emmys
Orchestrating the Daytime Emmy Awards is difficult enough during a normal year. But in a world grappling with COVID-19 pandemic, David Parks '83, the Executive Producer and Director of the Daytime Emmy Awards, responded to the challenge by planning and executing large-scale, live awards shows to honor television's best. Parks — whose 25-year career in entertainment and broadcast production has included live events, network TV news and sports, motion pictures, reality television, documentaries, award shows and scripted television — discusses how the virtual Daytime Emmys went off without a hitch, how Syracuse University cultivated his passion for the entertainment industry, provides advice for students who want to follow in his footsteps, relives his Syracuse men's soccer career, and more.
Brian Konkol: The Healing Power of Presence
People have lost loved ones, their jobs, their sense of security, and even their sense of purpose during COVID-19. Brian Konkol, Dean of Hendricks Chapel, says there is another side that can be nearly as devastating: the damage done to our mental and spiritual well-being. Social distancing has changed how we interact with our friends and family members. We’re all learning to live through this unprecedented period of uncertainty, shock, sorrow and fear. Konkol discusses the healing “power of presence” and what it can teach us during times of crisis, why it's important to find community, and why this disease can’t cancel what matters most: relationships, conversations and our faith.
Charity Purchas '13, G'19: Helping Vulnerable Residents
Charity Purchas '13, G'19 is passionate about two things: providing assistance to vulnerable residents, and Syracuse University. In her role at the Huntington Family Centers under fellow alumna and executive director Mary Lou Sales G'93, Purchas helps people in need get access to essentials like food, water, clothing, personal hygiene items and diapers. Purchas shares her passion for service, why it's important to always show love to people in need, advice for people considering a career in social work, how Syracuse University prepared her for this line of work, and why she bleeds Orange.
Keri Potts '98, G'99: Leveling the Playing Field for Women
For 17 years, Keri Potts '98, G'99 guided strategic communications efforts around ESPN's college sports businesses, created engaging promotional content for the network's NFL and NBA coverage, the 30 for 30 documentary series, the ESPY's awards show and more. But her true passion was advocating for women's empowerment issues, and this summer, Potts became vice president of external relations with the Institute for Women's Policy Research in Washington, DC. Potts earned both her bachelors and master’s degrees from Newhouse while excelling as a member of the volleyball team. She recounts her harrowing escape from a would-be-rapist in Italy and how that encounter fueled her desire to become a women's empowerment and victims rights' advocate. She also discusses her career, why she bleeds Orange and how Syracuse University feels like home. Hear her story on our 44th podcast!
Flose LaPierre '14: Community Organizer and Writer
Everything Flose LaPierre '14 does is driven by a desire to make society better. After graduating from Syracuse University with dual degrees in sociology and public relations, LaPierre worked to help Miami-Dade County adopt affordable housing policies while learning first-hand the important role community organizing plays in bringing about change. As the world grapples with issues of racial injustice and police brutality, LaPierre is rallying her fellow Los Angeles residents to stand up and speak out against injustices. This fall, she is launching a 21-day challenge to teach people to become active and involved citizens, and she’s leading a push to get more people registered to vote. Through her Write to Heal Workshops, LaPierre is encouraging participants to harness the power of writing to heal from trauma. A writer, poet and community organizer, LaPierre discusses why she's driven to make a difference while empowering people to speak up, seek justice and make the world a better place.
Ruth Colvin '59, H'84: Lifelong Learner
Ruth Colvin '59, H'84, the founder of Literacy Volunteers of America (now ProLiteracy), has traveled the world in pursuit of knowledge. She is a proud lifelong learner, the recipient of Presidential Medal of Freedom and a member of the National Women's Hall of Fame. At 103 years old, Ruth still golfs and walks 2,000 steps a day, as tracked by her iPhone. She recently published a memoir: My Travels Through Life, Love and Literacy. In this 'Cuse Conversation, Ruth shares some of her stories, secrets and the significance of her lifelong connection to Syracuse University.
Andrew Lunetta G'14: Homes for the Homeless
Andrew Lunetta G'14 is the founder of A Tiny Home for Good, a not-for-profit organization in Syracuse that designs and builds single-resident houses for homeless people in and around Syracuse. Since its founding in 2016, they have built 21 homes from the ground-up for homeless tenants across Syracuse, with half of the homes going to our nation's veterans. Lunetta discusses why he's passionate about addressing the problem of homelessness, how receiving the gift of shelter has helped these people turn around their lives, and how his time at Maxwell helped fulfill his vision for how his company could impact these vulnerable residents.
Alex Kline '16: NBA Scout and Future Front Office Exec.
Alex Kline has always had an eye for talent on the basketball court. When he was 16, Kline started his own recruiting website, The Recruit Scoop, earning a reputation as a scout with reliable and useful intelligence. While earning his undergraduate degree in broadcast and digital journalism from Newhouse, Kline landed a job with the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans, first as a basketball operations assistant and later as an intel scout. Now, Kline's a scout with the New York Knicks. With the NBA season set to resume, Kline discusses his meteoric rise as a scout, his front office aspirations, his time at Syracuse, and how his efforts to honor his late mother have netted more than $200,000 for cancer research.
Allie Curtis '14: Elevating Women into Leading Roles
2015 Miss Rhode Island Allie Curtis '14 is more than just a former Miss America contestant. A second lieutenant in the Rhode Island National Guard, Curtis graduated from the U.S. Army’s Field Artillery Basic Leadership Course, becoming the FIRST woman field artillery officer in Rhode Island. A public affairs officer, Curtis will help integrate more women into combat arms, part of her mission to empower women and girls for a brighter future. Curtis discusses her passion for elevating women into leadership roles in underrepresented fields, how she used the beauty pageant circuit to promote her "Leading Ladies" leadership platform, and how her time at Syracuse drove her to level the playing field for women in politics.
Jayson Stark '73: Hall of Fame Baseball Writer
If you’re a fan of baseball, you’re familiar with Jayson Stark ’73. He’s the senior baseball writer for the Athletic, an MLB Network studio analyst and a Baseball Hall of Famer - the 2019 J.G. Taylor Spink Award recipient.
In this ’Cuse Conversation, Jayson talks about his lifelong connection to Syracuse University, shares stories from his career and previews the 2020 MLB season, which is certain to be the most unusual of our lifetime.
Ian Wishingrad '08: Marketing Pro
From the moment he stepped on campus, Ian Wishingrad ’08 recognized that Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications was where he belonged. The marketing pro’s career path hasn’t been traditional, but it has led to success. Wishingrad is the founder and creative director of a marketing and advertising firm, the creator of a cereal brand and recently reunited some of the original cast members of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. In this ’Cuse Conversations podcast, Wishingrad talks about the significance of a strong brand, the importance of not being afraid to fail and the lasting impact of his Syracuse experience.
Doug Robinson '85: Media Executive and Producer
From an early age, Doug Robinson '85 envisioned a career in the entertainment industry, preferably as a producer. Robinson worked his way up from the Creative Artists Agency mailroom to become an agent, and eventually he was a partner and co-founder of the talent division at Endeavor Talent Agency where he represented Adam Sandler, Chris Farley, Will Smith, Jennifer Garner, Wesley Snipes, Ashton Kutcher and more. After these successes, Robinson reinvented himself as a television producer, and his executive producer credits include "Rules of Engagement," "The Goldbergs," and "Schooled." His latest television project, "For Life," is a fictionalized legal drama following a prisoner who becomes a lawyer and fights to overturn his life sentence for a crime he didn't commit. Robinson discusses how he went from the mailroom to a career as a decorated Hollywood agent and producer, how Syracuse University taught him how to create his own personal narrative, and why he helped start the Syracuse University Los Angeles semester program.
Sarah Kamya '17: Amplifying Black Voices Through Little Free Diverse Library Project
Growing up, Sarah Kamya '17 loved to read books, but she struggled finding stories and characters she could identify with as a Black child. Today, Kamya is the creator of the Little Free Diverse Library Project, which aims to amplify Black voices while supporting Black authors and Black-owned bookstores. Kamya has raised more than $10,000, purchased more than 500 books written by Black authors from Black-owned bookstores, and received more than 400 books through her Amazon Wish List. These books are being distributed in 28 states around the country. Kamya discusses why this is a passion project, how these books are leading to conversations that could spark change, and how Syracuse prepared her for her career as a school counselor.
Shayna Postman '95: Moving a Synagogue Online
During COVID-19, churches, mosques, synagogues and other houses of worship have been forced to transition their services online. Shayna Postman '95 is the cantor (prayer leader) and a teacher and counselor at the Town & Village Synagogue in New York City. Working with the rabbi, Postman has helped bring the synagogue's services online. Postman leads daily Zoom services for the congregation, teaches religious education classes for children and adults, has delivered supplies and resources to elderly and isolated members of her Manhattan community, and has even orchestrated virtual Zoom Bar and Bat Mitzvah’s. A graduate of the School of Music and member of the University Singers, Postman discusses the importance of staying grateful, optimistic and positive, how her community has come together during the pandemic, the lessons she learned at Syracuse University, and much more!
Sam Blum '16: Shifting from Sports
Sam Blum '16 reports on Southern Methodist University athletics and the Texas Rangers for the Dallas Morning News, but recently, his duties changed to include covering the impact of COVID-19 and the Black Lives Matter protests in and around Dallas. Blum has faced tear gas and had guns drawn on him while covering the protests. A graduate of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications with a degree in newspaper and online journalism, Blum describes the chaos that was his first few days on his new beat, the lessons he's learned covering the protests, how the Daily Orange prepared him and what the return of sports might look like.
Delivering Healthy Beverages and Snacks to NYC Hospitals
As Kieran Pickering '07 watched the COVID-19 news coverage depicting overwhelmed New York City-area hospitals, he had an idea: to fuel these front line health care workers with healthy snacks and beverages. Teaming up with Founders Give, Pickering used his company, Mitchell’s New York Logistics, to deliver more than two million products to 51 hospitals since the initiative launched two months ago. Pickering discusses why he chose hospital workers and first responders, how this cause has taken off, and why it was important to give back to his hometown during the pandemic.
How Upstatement is Helping Contain the Spread of COVID-19
As communities around the world search for solutions to COVID-19, Tito Bottitta '03, Jared Novack '06 and Mike Swartz '06 are using their company, Upstatement, to design three initiatives to contain the spread of this disease. Collaborating with doctors at Brigham & Women's Hospital, COVID Protocols created guidelines for treating COVID-19 patients. COVID Safe Paths is a contact tracing app that allows people to find out if they've been exposed to the disease while mapping out a digital record of infection locations for public health officials. Project Zero identifies what precautions businesses are taking to keep their customers safe during the pandemic. The three discuss the impact these groundbreaking initiatives are having in the fight against the coronavirus, share how their time at Syracuse University and The Daily Orange led to the formation of Upstatement, and much more!
Joy Cho '01: Home Design Expert and Pinterest's Most-Followed User
Always the creative type, Joy Cho '01 founded the Oh Joy! blog in 2005 to market her work as a graphic and product designer. Cho combined her social media savvy with captivating content to launch her own lifestyle brand, Oh Joy!, and she has become a trailblazer in the world of personal style. A home design expert, Cho was one of the first users on Pinterest, and with more than 13 million followers she is now Pinterest’s most popular creative influencer. An accomplished entrepreneur and author, Cho shares her personal style preferences, discusses her love for bringing color into people’s day-to-day lives, dishes out advice to spruce up your home décor, and much more!
Actress, comedian and "A.P. Bio" star Lyric Lewis
Lyric Lewis is an accomplished actress, hilarious comedian, and history buff who plays history teacher Stef Duncan on NBC’s hit show "A.P. Bio." Lewis, who earned a drama degree from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, has also starred on "MadTV" and Comedy Central’s "Drunk History." Lewis says she always wanted to make people laugh, and she is one of the funnier alumna you’ll hear from on this podcast! As Hollywood continue to deal with COVID-19, Lewis shares how this pandemic has impacted the entertainment business, what Hollywood will look like once the industry is allowed to resume filming, how she transitioned from a classically-trained theater major to comedian and improv expert, and how "Jurassic Park" made Lewis get into acting.
Brittany Berry '18 and Logan Bonney G'17: Delivering Meals for a Cause
Brittany Berry '18 and Logan Bonney G'17 are the co-owners of Anything But Beer, a brewery and taproom in Syracuse. Specializing in gluten-free and grain-free foods and beverages, Anything But Beer was only open for one month before COVID-19 forced the restaurant and taproom to close its dining room. Berry and Bonney shifted their focus to helping the area’s health care workers, many of whom have the same dietary restrictions as the restaurant. Thanks to donations made online, Anything But Beer is providing its gluten-free and grain-free meals to medical workers through a series of free deliveries, paid for by those online gifts. Berry and Bonney discuss why they're using their restaurant to give back to our health care workers, how this gives them a renewed sense of purpose and community, and how Syracuse played a role in launching their business.
Becoming Resilient and Restoring Security During COVID-19
Bryan Semaan is an assistant professor in the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University. Semaan's research exploring how we develop resiliency in the face of a life-altering disruption such as COVID-19 is more pertinent and relevant than ever before. Semaan shares how social media can both connect us and lead to a sense of isolation and loneliness, and why, even when we're isolated in our homes, it's important to cultivate a sense of community. Semaan offers insights into how we can restore security in our lives by developing a daily routine, by finding and creating connections with others during the age of social distancing, and by engaging in activities for the greater good.
Responding to COVID-19: Nurse Katie McMurray '13
As the world continues to deal with the fallout from COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, nurses like Katie McMurray '13 are doing their part to treat patients with the coronavirus. McMurray, a progressive care nurse at Danbury Hospital in Danbury, Conn., is a member of an Orange Legacy family who earned her biology degree from the College of Arts and Sciences before entering the health care field. Her hospital has seen its share of coronavirus patients, including treating the state’s first COVID-19 patient, Chris Tillett, who was in a medically-induced coma before recovering. McMurray discusses how the hospital responds when someone is suspected of being COVID-positive, shares how she copes with the anxiety of being a nurse during this pandemic, and reveals how her time with Syracuse University Ambulance taught her to respond to emergency situations.
Tokyo 2020 Olympics Spokesperson Masa Takaya G'07
Much like the rest of the sports world, the 2020 Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan have been affected by COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. For only the fourth time in the history of the Olympics, the games will not go off as scheduled, with the Summer Olympics postponed until July 23, 2021. Takaya and his colleagues spent seven years securing the Summer Olympics and Paralympic Games for Tokyo, only to have the Games be affected by this pandemic. Takaya, the communications director and official spokesperson for the Tokyo Organizing Committee, discusses how his time at Syracuse University shaped his career and the decision for organizers to postpone the Summer Olympics. He addresses how these games will convey a message to the world and the Japanese people about the importance of resiliency, recovery and hope for a country that nine years ago was devastated by a catastrophic earthquake and tsunami.
Responding to COVID-19: Isaac Budmen '12 and Stephanie Keefe '12 use 3D printers to produce face shields
We’ve all heard how our nation’s health care workers are putting their lives on the line each and every day in the fight against COVID-19, the novel coronavirus. Isaac Budmen '12 and Stephanie Keefe '12 are using their company, Budmen Industries, to produce 3D face shields to help keep our health care workers safe. In a span of two weeks, this grassroots movement has gone from a basement in Central New York to a global scale. Budmen Industries is providing digital instructions for printing up various components of these face shields on its website, budmen.com, while connecting 3D printing enthusiasts with hospitals around the world. To date, more than 240,000 requests have come in from people who want to help. Discover how Budmen and Keefe, who met on the Syracuse campus, have turned their Orange love into an inspirational story of Syracuse alumni responding to this pandemic to save lives.
Award-Winning Broadway Producer Van Dean '96
Van Dean '96 is an award-winning Broadway producer. His latest project, "Jagged Little Pill," inspired by Alanis Morissette’s Grammy Award-winning album, debuted on Broadway in December. But now, the musical, like all performances on Broadway, has been shut down by the coronavirus. On the latest episode, Dean shares how the Broadway community is coming together to take care of each other during these unprecedented times. While a student at Syracuse, Dean re-wrote "The Boys From Syracuse" to honor the University's 125th anniversary. The company he co-founded, Broadway Records, has produced more than 200 albums capturing live Broadway musical performances. He discusses the circuitous path he took to Broadway, how he founded Broadway Records to preserve Broadway performances for future generations, and how the classes he took at Syracuse University served as a road map for his successful career.
Forever Orange: The Story of Syracuse University authors Rick Burton '80 and Scott Pitoniak '77
As Syracuse University marks its 150th anniversary on March 24, 2020, we talk to two men who have written the definitive book on the University’s history. Rick Burton ’80 and Scott Pitoniak ’77 are the authors of Forever Orange: The Story of Syracuse University, which shares the stories of the people, places and moments in time that capture the essence of what it means to be Orange.
Alumni journalists on covering the pandemic
As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic expands around the globe and across the country, life has changed dramatically for everyone. For journalists, keeping up with constant developments can be a tremendous challenge in a 24-hour news cycle. Another challenge: staying well - both mentally and physically - as they, like all of us, try to balance the responsibilities of their jobs with the evolving responsibilities of their lives. In this 'Cuse Conversation, we'll hear from television reporters Lissette Nunez '15, Lauren Hall '10 and Scott MacFarlane '98, as well as newspaper editor Maggie Gordon '08 about how they're approaching their jobs and their lives in our "new normal."
Alumni sportscasters... in a world without sports
For many of us, sports is a welcome and enjoyable distraction. For many others, it’s a business, a job, a source of income. In this ’Cuse Conversation, we check in with ESPN play-by-play broadcasters Mike Couzens ’10, Kevin Fitzgerald ’14 and Jay Alter ’16 and WSYR-TV sportscaster Darius Joshua ’14. We talk about life without sports, the significance of sports in society and the importance of “coming together” in this time of social distancing to help one another.
Aaron Robinson '03
Tired of hearing the negative stories about Baltimore, Aaron Robinson '03 decided to do something to change the narrative about his beloved hometown: he started his own podcast, No Pix After Dark, to tell the positive stories from Baltimore. Robinson, who earned a retail degree from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, knew nothing about creating a podcast, but he was passionate about storytelling, and dedicated himself to this new venture. One year later, Robinson has used his podcast to tell the stories of Baltimore residents who are committed to making a difference in their communities, and his podcast was nominated for best podcast in the Baltimore Sun's Best of Baltimore readers' choice awards. Robinson reflects on the lessons learned from his time at SU, tells some of his favorite stories from the podcast, discusses why he almost gave up the podcast, and shares why his love for Syracuse runs deep.
Ed Levine '78
As Ed Levine '78 will tell you, he "talked his way" into the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications in the mid-1970s and, as those who know him will tell you, Levine hasn't stopped talking. But that makes perfect sense for a man who has built a long and successful career in the radio business. Levine, who got his start at WAER while he was a student, is president and CEO of Central New York-based Galaxy Media, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary. In this 'Cuse Conversation, Levine discusses how he built Galaxy into a local radio powerhouse, his love of radio and his passion and pride for Syracuse University.
Cam Lynch '14: Former football standout eying broadcasting career
Ever since he was a standout linebacker for the Syracuse University football team, Cam Lynch '14 envisioned a career in the media. A four-year varsity letter-winner, Lynch ventured into the world of sportscasting as a student-athlete, producing his own sports segment, "Cam's Cam," featuring interviews with teammates. Lynch has played five seasons in the NFL with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and St. Louis/Los Angeles Rams, and while he still dreams of returning to the NFL, Lynch formed his own media company, Heart Work Media, to tell compelling stories. He provided color commentary on the radio for Super Bowl LIII after being selected from hundreds of applicants for the Broadcast Bowl. For this year's big game, Lynch is holding football camps with our troops in both Australia and Guam, capturing digital content for future television and online segments. Lynch discusses his passion for storytelling, how he built his career in media, and why no matter what happens in life, he never stops climbing up.
Sherman Williams, a 25-year veteran of the United States Army, is an entrepreneur, a business owner and a proud graduate of Syracuse University's Institute for Veterans and Military Families' (IVMF) Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans. A mechanic in the Army, Williams saw how our troops were struggling to fuel their bodies with healthy beverages that could both survive the harsh conditions of Iraq and provide essential vitamins and minerals, so he created Body Aqua. Williams discusses how his service to country helped him discover his own greatness, and shares the lessons learned from his time in the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans.
Lenny Garner '74
Director Leonard R. "Lenny" Garner came to Syracuse University hoping to become a professional actor, but thanks to the hands-on experiences and lessons learned from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, Garner instead developed into a respected television and motion picture director. After graduating, Garner moved out to Los Angeles where he received his big break: being accepted into an assistant director's training program designed to help women and minorities break into the business. His directorial career spans four decades, and his credits include hits like: "Miami Vice," "The Blues Brothers," "The Rockford Files," "Wings," "NewsRadio," "Just Shoot Me!," "Sister, Sister," "Sabrina the Teenage Witch," "The King of Queens," "Rules of Engagement," and more. Discover Garner's Orange success story and hear his advice for students looking to break into the field.
Adam Fazackerley '96
Adam Fazackerley ’96 came to Syracuse University to study to become an engineer. He graduated with the education and motivation to become an entrepreneur. Adam and his wife Amy are co-founders of Lay-n-Go, an “activity mat, cleanup, storage and carryall solution in one.” Adam, who with his wife, serves on the Syracuse University Libraries Advisory Board talks about building a business, mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs and why he gets so much out of giving back to current students.
Beth Mowins G'90: Trailblazing Sportscaster
Trailblazing sportscaster Beth Mowins G'90 made history as the first woman to handle play-by-play duties for a Monday Night Football game. Mowins, who joined ESPN in 1994, has called NCAA championships in basketball, softball, soccer and volleyball, and has served as the voice of the Women's College World Series for over 20 years. Mowins discusses growing up as a passionate Syracuse sports fan, why the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications was the perfect place to hone her craft, the path she took to broadcasting success, and more. Mowins also shares advice for students who aspire to follow in her sports broadcasting footsteps.
Brian Moritz G'11, G'14
After about a decade as a sportswriter, Brian Moritz decided to go back to school. He chose Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of public communications, where he earned both a master's and a doctoral degree. Now, he's a communications professor at SUNY-Oswego, blogs about journalism and sports media and hosts a podcast about writing. Brian joined us to talk about why he values his connection to Syracuse Univerity, what he's learned, his philosophy on teaching the next generation of journalists, on what it takes to be a good writer and much more.
Alexis Ostrander '07
We sit down with director Alexis Ostrander '07 to discuss her career in Hollywood and her penchant for telling compelling stories. Ostrander, who earned a musical theater degree from the College of Visual and Performing Arts, has directed television shows like FX's "American Horror Story: Roanoke," CW's "Riverdale," SyFy's "Deadly Class," and more. A member of the inaugural "Sorkin Week" immersion program as part of Syracuse University in Los Angeles, Ostrander has carved out an award-winning and Emmy nominated career as a director. Her work on the short film, "The Haircut," which premiered at the American Film Institute Festival, garnered 13 awards while telling the story of the first female class of recruits at the service academies. Ostrander describes what motivates her as a director, where she learned to tell compelling stories, how she continues to refine her voice as a director, and the role Syracuse University played in her career.
Jonalyn Saxer '14
Just five years out of college, Jonalyn Saxer '14 is building an impressive Broadway resume. After being part of the original Broadway cast of Mean Girls, she's currently playing the role of Karen Smith in the touring production of the show. In this 'Cuse Conversation, Jonalyn tells us how her Syracuse University education prepared her to stand out in a competitive field, talks about sharing the Broadway stage with other Syracuse alumni and provides some valuable advice for young actors who'd like to follow in her footsteps.
Jeff Kurkjian '15
Jeff Kurkjian ’15 stops by to discuss his successful career as a morning talk radio host. Kurkjian, whose career started in Cleveland right after graduating with a broadcast and digital journalism major, is currently a co-host on 102.7 the Coyote in Las Vegas. Kurkjian talks about his love of Syracuse University, the lessons he learned from his S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications faculty members and classmates, how WJPZ (Z89) prepared him for his career in radio, and what it was like being an Otto, Syracuse's official mascot. Kurkjian also talks about his experiences forming Otto Tunes, the all-male a cappella group that performs around the country raising money for testicular cancer research, and the power of Syracuse's alumni network.
Golden Globes Award-Winning Film Producer: Monica Levinson '90
Producer Monica Levinson '90 stops by to discuss her decorated career as a film producer, including her latest work on "Brian Banks," a tale of a football player whose dreams of playing in the NFL were derailed by accusations of rape and kidnapping. Banks, who was falsely incarcerated, was exonerated and now spends his time fighting for others who were falsely convicted of crimes. Levinson's career as a producer has included films like “Captain Fantastic,” “Zoolander,” "Private Parts," “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story," “Trumbo,” and “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for Make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan.” Levinson reveals the break that launched her career in film, talks about reinventing herself, and shares the impact Syracuse University has on her life.
Ben Holtzman '13 and Sammy Lopez '13
Ben Holtzman came to Syracuse University from New York City; Sammy Lopez arrived from Los Angeles. When they met on the first day of their first year on campus, the new roommates shared a similar dream -- both wanted to be Broadway performers. Now, more than a decade later, the two alumni of Syracuse University's College of Visual and Performing Arts (VPA) are making their marks on the theater world... in a way they hadn't initially imagined. They worked together on the team that brought one of 2019's "buzziest" shows, "Be More Chill," to Broadway. Now, they're lead producers on "Gun and Powder," an original musical co-written by fellow VPA alum Ross Baum '12, which will premiere in early 2020 at the Signature Theatre in Arlington, VA. Ben and Sammy talk about their education and experience in the musical theater program at Syracuse, discuss the impact social media is having on entertainment and share the many ways they stay involved with the "family" they built at Syracuse University.
Kevin Belbey '13, G'16, L'16
2019 Generation Orange Alumni Award winner Kevin Belbey jokingly lives by a motto used by ESPNU - "never graduate." While he has, in fact, graduated (he has three degrees from Syracuse University!), Belbey remains passionate about and connected to his alma mater. He works alongside and represents many fellow alumni as director of sports broadcasting for the Montag Group. Belbey, who was a manager for the men's basketball team as a student, has brought Orange alumni together to compete in The Basketball Tournament (TBT) for the last four summers as general manager of Boeheim's Army.
Jennie May '17 and Mike Smith '12, G'13
On the latest episode of the 'Cuse Conversations Podcast, May and Smith, a pair of Generation Orange alumni (graduates of the last 10 years) stopped by to discuss some of the exciting programming available to our young alumni. May and Smith are leaders on the Generation Orange Leadership Council, a collection of young alumni responsible for organizing programs like the GO (Generation Orange) Pro Series and professional development and networking nights. They share their advice to fellow young alumni while highlighting all of the ways you can get involved with Syracuse University where you live.
Peter Gianesini '94
For over 20 years, Gianesini has forged a successful career at ESPN, working on popular shows like "Mike and Mike," "The Dan Le Batard Show with Stugotz," and more. Gianesini stopped by the 'Cuse Conversations Podcast to discuss his career in radio, the lessons he learned from his time studying broadcast journalism at Syracuse University, and his advice to aspiring journalists.
Liz Liddy G'77, G'88
Liddy recently retired as dean of the School of Information Studies (iSchool) at Syracuse University following an 11-year career as dean, and a 30-year career as a faculty member and researcher. On the latest 'Cuse Conversations Podcast, Liddy discusses her distinguished career, shares highlights from her time with the iSchool, and addresses the progress made in helping women and minorities discover careers in STEM.
Mary C. Daly G'94
Daly went from a high school dropout to the president and C.E.O. of the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco. On the latest 'Cuse Conversations Podcast, learn how Daly became one of the world's most respected economists, and how her time spent studying economics and public policy in the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs helped her devise fiscal policies geared at serving others.
Getting Started with 'Cuse Conversations
Co-hosts John Boccacino '03 and Chris Velardi '95 from Syracuse University's Office of Alumni Engagement introduce you to our new 'Cuse Conversations Podcast! Our first podcast sets the stage for what listeners can expect moving forward, while introducing you to our co-hosts, both proud graduates of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and longtime members of the media who know how to tell compelling stories.