Former campus tour guide Manny Cruz now recruits for Oswego in New York City

In this issue’s Spotlight, meet Emmanuel “Manny” Cruz, a 2009 alumnus who resides in Queens and covers the five boroughs of New York City as a full-time recruiter of prospective students for the Office of Admissions.

Q. Where are you from?
A. I’ve lived in New York City my entire life. I’m originally from Queens—Sunnyside. Some people don’t know where that is, so I mention Astoria or Woodside. Sunnyside is a small town in between those two large towns.

Q. Who recruited you to attend SUNY Oswego?
A. I’m pretty sure I met Monico Soto or someone else (from Admissions) who was telling me about this college on the lake. I was looking for marketing/marketing education, and that prompted my interest in the college. I never came to Oswego for an official visit. I came to orientation and fell in love with Oswego. I stayed here four years, did study abroad in Rome. I was a marketing major, so I was part of the School of Business.

Q. What are some of the things you did on campus?
A. I lived on campus all four years. I was an RA for two years—one year in Funnelle, one year in Onondaga. I was in the Latino Student Union. I was an admissions tour guide for four years—I lived in Johnson Hall freshman year and they had a TV channel that played SUNY Oswego information all day, before they had digital signage, and I saw an ad. I met with Audrey (Hager, class of 2006) and she interviewed me, had me shadow a tour—and the rest is history. I actually dragged in some of my other friends.

Q. What jobs did you have after graduation from Oswego?
A. I went backpacking through Europe with my friend Cathleen Richards, class of 2009. We took a job as resident assistants for this company called Summerfuel. I then had a job offer as a marketing assistant for Verizon and another as an admissions counselor for St. Gregory’s University in Shawnee, Oklahoma. I had enjoyed admissions at Oswego. The rule of thumb in admissions is if you do it for three years, you’re a lifer. (Laughs.) St. Gregory’s said I was going to be hall director on top of being an admissions counselor. It was hard juggling two jobs at the same time. A mentor said if I wanted to move up, I needed to get my master’s degree. I decided to go to Drexel University for graduate school in higher education administration and enrollment management. I took a job at Hartwick for about three years. I started as an admissions counselor and left as an associate director. I then saw an opening at SUNY system as a recruitment adviser based in New York City. I got to really form relationships with guidance counselors in the New York City area and promote SUNY to people, creating early awareness during students’ junior and senior years.

Q. When did you start working at Oswego, and what are your duties now?
A. Aug. 1 will be my first anniversary in the job. It’s an interesting job, because I don’t have an actual office. I work from home (in Queens) at this moment in time. Visiting happens between September and mid-November. I visited 211 schools last fall and reached about 8,000 students. It’s a cycle. After that, I usually talk with students—we call it an admissions chat for those who are interested in Oswego—at the SUNY offices in New York or coffee shops like Starbucks or restaurants in town or, if they really need it, at their high school. Then (after the Thanksgiving holiday) comes reading season, reviewing applicants’ materials.

Q. What are some points in your marketing pitch for SUNY Oswego?
A. I try to keep it real. Most admissions counselors have a script. I try to deviate off the script a little bit and talk more about how my experiences—(for example) how I studied abroad and how I thought it was something that was impossible, but lo and behold, I did it, and money shouldn’t be a thing that should limit you from trying to do something like this. I talk a lot about getting interested in the academic programs we offer. Most of the marketing points are about the experience, the brand-new kind of experience awaiting you. They’ll ask, “Will I have people to hang out with here?” “Will I fit in to this type of environment?” And, usually in working with New York City students, “Can I get into your school?” (Prospects) are also focused on experiential learning opportunities, not just that we offer the major.

Q. How do you deal with recruits about diversity in the student body?
A. I’m Hispanic. If they’re Spanish, I’ll talk in Spanish before we start talking about Oswego. Some will ask, “What’s your diversity rate?” I’ll tell them the incoming class is approaching 30 percent (of students from underrepresented groups), and some will say, “That’s not bad.” With some (prospects), it’s just knowing there are clubs and organizations on campus that will support them, will make them feel more comfortable. We’re doing good work in those areas. I let them know they’re not just a name on a card. Moving forward, I send them handwritten notes, I treat them like they’re already a member of our community before they’ve even applied to the school. The challenge is I have a lot of students to work with!

Q. What do you like to do outside of work?
A. I like to travel a lot. I went to Europe for a week (recently) to visit with a couple of Oswego people who live there. I was in London and Paris. I’m looking forward to maybe going to South Africa next year; I’ve never been there. I have family in the Dominican Republic, so I go there quite often. We have a house there—I technically could go there whenever I want. I keep telling myself I’m one day going to backpack through South America. I also volunteer. I do work for an organization called iMentor. I’m assigned an inner-city student going through the college search process, helping them make it to college and helping them after high school with college life. In a couple of days I’m going up to Camp College, an opportunity for me to work with lower-income students to get them interested in going to college.

Q. What can you tell us about your family?
A. My mother is a medical biller. My father is a warehouse manager in Queens. My younger brother has a daughter, so I have a niece now. I also have a large extended family—six aunts and uncles and 23 first cousins, many second cousins. All of them live in New York City.