The first class of Possibility Scholars graduated in 2014, the first fruit of a uniquely Oswego program that guides talented but financially disadvantaged students into impactful careers in sciences-related fields. Their success exemplifies a year in which students responded to the support offered by the college, and by returning alumni, with many achievements of note.
Possibility pioneers Nicole VanDeuson, K.C. VerHage and Sean Willson were among 19 Possibility Scholars studying at SUNY Oswego in 2013-14; another eight enrolled in fall 2014. All were pursuing degrees in science, technology, engineering or mathematics. The visionary, donor-funded Possibility Scholars program provides a debt-free STEM education that incorporates two summer research experiences. One is an international service-learning project through Oswego’s distinctive Global Laboratory, which prepares students with cultural and social skills they need to compete in a global marketplace while sharpening their scientific expertise.
Among the standout accomplishments of other students in 2013-14 were full scholarships to pursue graduate study at major research universities, coveted career-preparing internships and career-launching first jobs, a Fulbright Scholarship, a Newman Civic Fellows Award, a fifth-straight appearance at the Frozen Four and multiple national honors for community service work that ranged from raising funds to fight cancer to mentoring at-risk schoolchildren to volunteering in senior care facilities.
For his Global Laboratory experience, VerHage traveled to India to explore how the microbial ecosystem would adapt in an environment contaminated with petroleum products. He ran DNA tests at University of Calcutta facilities. After graduation, he entered a master's degree program at Oswego.
King served as an international marketing intern for the Great Wall Club in Beijing, had additional study-abroad experiences in Istanbul and Havana, volunteered as a study-abroad mentor and interned for U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, Congressman Dan Maffei and the college’s Admissions Office.
“My academics have to be top-notch. My father instilled in me the value of education. He described his situation (as a youth) in the Dominican: He had no shoes, no books, no book bag. I have textbooks for free, I have the ability to go to school, I have tutoring services, I have a library to study in. There is no reason why I should fail.”
Kingston received national recognition from Campus Compact for his work with the college's Mentor-Scholar Program, working one-on-one with Oswego Middle School students who need academic and social guidance to get through school.
Students have many guardians along their path to success. They help open students’ eyes to pitfalls and possibilities. A bachelor’s degree is an extremely cost-effective investment when completed in four years. In 2013-14, the college sweetened the longstanding Oswego Guarantee with a Graduation Return on Investment: a $300 reward for graduating in four years or less, as the college promises students can. The new incentive supplements the original Guarantee's commitments: classes will be available to complete a degree in four years or remaining courses will be tuition free; small classes will always be available; and a student’s cost for room and board will not go up for four years.
From first-year advising through senior-year planning, the college encourages students to work with faculty and staff on a roadmap to graduation in four years. To assist with this advising, in 2013-14 we launched Degree Works, a software tool to help students easily focus on their progress on the path to a degree, and MyDegree, a companion mobile application we developed in house.
“I put a lot into the physics program and I got everything I wanted out of it: I was able to find professors that I really enjoyed working with who were also genuinely invested in the outcome of my career. I had the chance to live in Taiwan during the summer to do biophysics research. I was given as many opportunities to get involved as I asked for.”
A biology major from Cameroon, Assam job-shadowed physicians through CSTEP Health Connections, had an internship at a hospital, did research in Oswego’s Global Laboratory in Calcutta, tutored students in science and math, was an orientation guide for freshmen and was active with the African Student Organization and Newman Center.
A five-year accounting-MBA student, Brayton had internships with Biogen Idec in Boston and accounting firms in New York City and Syracuse and was active with WTOP-TV and the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, among his many involvements during college.
Schofield earned a prestigious Fulbright scholarship to conduct research in India, examining how survivors of human trafficking can benefit from creative arts therapy. She received dual bachelor’s degrees in women’s studies and English in December 2013.
At the finish line, the graduation dais where they collect their diplomas, our students find another set of sentinels: proud family and friends. As the number of visitors supporting graduates on their special day increased, the college added a third May commencement ceremony to accommodate them starting in 2014. Accomplished alumni were the main speakers at each ceremony, welcoming graduates to their new status and providing role models for success.
95% undergraduates studying full time toward degrees
81% first- to second-year retention
2,063 degrees awarded
96% 2013 graduates employed or in graduate school by 2014
Just as one ambition of our Possibility Scholars program is to diversify the nation's scientific and technical workforce, so we make every effort to infuse a culture of variety and inclusiveness right here at SUNY Oswego. It is an important part of preparing students to succeed in today's global society and to improve the future.
In 2014, the college attended to this responsibility by establishing a task force on diversity and inclusion. As a collegiate community, Oswego aspires to embrace students and faculty who specialize in a wide diversity of academic disciplines from a variety of perspectives, who come from many backgrounds, ethnicities, states and nations, and who delight in exploring their differences and discovering their similarities.
1,521 students from underrepresented groups in fall 2014
75.8% five-year increase in students from underrepresented groups
207 international students in fall 2014
135.2% five-year increase in international students
As Oswego alumni find success in growing numbers of careers and places around the globe, they increasingly reconnect with the college to share their reassuring advice and worldly wisdom with current students.
They are “career connectors” at the annual O'Donnell Media Summit, volunteers in the Alumni in Residence and Alumni Sharing Knowledge programs, visiting writers, artists, scientists and business executives as well as hosts to students visiting their hometowns.
In a campus lecture that was also webcast live to viewers in nine states, Bob Moritz ’85, chairman and senior partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), outlined five sweeping global trends and four key qualities employees need. His advice ranged from business ethics to personal branding, from managing people to navigating market trends.
Students connected with alumni working in the metro-New York area over winter break and visited four potential workplaces: Madison Square Garden, Kellen Communications, KPMG and the Fox Networks. The trip culminated with a networking fair where students learned about developing professional contacts.
Return to Oz IV, the pentennial reunion of alumni of color in fall 2013, featured an alumni-student networking fair called “Ease on Down the Road.”
158 students connected with an alumni mentor in 2013-14
64 ‘Alumni in Residence’ in 2013-14
108 students making ‘New York City Career Connections’ in 2014