Young Alum Success Stories

Early Success

Madison BrownMeet Madison Brown. As a Sport Management major, she earned internships with the Buffalo Sabres and Buffalo Bisons. Today, this 2013 graduate is working for Buffalo?s new HarborCenter project, and contributing to the economic resurgence of downtown Buffalo. See her story here>>

Raul LopezMeet Raul Lopez. He took a chance on a university that was seven hours from home. Today, he works with Fortune 500 clients at Ogilvy Public Relations -- and he's loving every moment! See his story here>>

Steve GangloffMeet Steve Gangloff. In 2012, he graduated with a degree in Biology. Today, he's one of just 144 first-year medical students in the University at Buffalo's School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. See his story here:

Mercedes SornozaMeet Mercedes Sornoza. A Brooklyn native, she studied Criminal Justice and Spanish. Today, she's a Probation Officer, changing the future for individuals and our society. See her story here:

Liz Ruff Class of 2011Meet Liz Ruff. In 2011, she earned a degree in Musical Theatre. A few weeks later, she landed a role in Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Cats!" See her story here:

Jud HeusslerMeet Jud Heussler. As a freshman, he started his own radio show. As a senior, he interned with Buffalo's Kiss 98.5 FM -- which hired him before he even graduated! Today, he's known by music fans across Western New York. See his story here:

Heather SmithMeet Heather Smith. In 2012, she gradated from SUNY Fredonia's College of Education. Today, she's a middle school science teacher near Rochester, N.Y. See her story here:

Georgie Fu Class of 2012Meet Georgie Fu. She graduated in 2012 with a double major in computer science and public relations. Today, she's pursuing a master?s degree in International Affairs with a merit fellowship at George Washington University. See her story here:

Thayer discovers career change at Fredonia quickly adds up

Betsy Thayer earned bachelor’s degrees in Psychology, and Health and Human Services, from a much bigger school in a much bigger city. However, after three years of working in the social services field, she realized she wanted a different career. So this Jamestown, N.Y., native chose SUNY Fredonia to pursue a degree in Public Accountancy. Her new-found education paid immediate dividends, leading to a job offer before she even graduated. It also helped her pass the rigorous Uniform Certified Public Accountancy (CPA) Examination – with one of the top scores in the nation.

“I had friends who attended Fredonia, so I had been on campus before to visit,” Thayer remembers. “They had good things to say about the school.”

Fredonia’s smaller enrollment and class sizes were big attractions for Betsy. In fact, over 80 percent of all classes at Fredonia have 29 or fewer students.

“You aren't just a number in a large lecture hall,” she explains. “Knowing your professors helps provide a bridge between college and the workforce, because they’re able to provide career coaching based on what they have learned about you. They also provide recommendations during your internship or job search.”

Betsy Thayer

She still maintains contact with some of her professors from Fredonia, which she adds was not an experience she had before.

As she prepared for her new numeric career, Betsy became focused on a specific number: five. Public Accountancy programs which prepare students for the CPA exam consist of 150 credit hours and typically take five years to complete. However, Betsy wanted to wrap hers up in just five semesters. Fortunately, Fredonia accepted 75 of her prior credits, allowing her to do exactly that.

“That fit well with what I was looking for,” recalls Betsy, the first in her family to attend college. It made it less expensive, too.

Betsy graduated in 2012 and immediately began working at the Jamestown, N.Y., office of Schaffner, Knight, Minnaugh & Company, an Erie, Pa.-based accounting firm with whom she interned as a student.

“I never left (the firm),” she jokes. “That’s pretty much where I wanted to be.”

Betsy’s current focus is tax preparation, but she also assists with accounting and auditing services. She is also a Notary Public commissioned by New York State and belongs to the American Institute of CPAs and the New York State Society of CPAs.

“I initially thought I had to go to a large urban area in order to have opportunities for internships to gain experience. At Fredonia, I found that there were plenty of opportunities to gain experience, and I actually found my current position through a SUNY Fredonia career fair,” she says.

When it came time for her to take the CPA exam — a test which only 20 percent or so of all candidates pass on their first attempt — Betsy made it look easy. She earned a stunning 95.50 average score (out of 99) on all four parts. Only 39 of the more than 92,000 candidates across the U.S. who took the exam last year earned a higher score.

Betsy ThayerBetsy credits SUNY Fredonia for successfully preparing her. She had taken no business courses before coming to Fredonia, yet she graduated summa cum laude. She earned a scholarship, two awards from the New York State Society of CPAs, and the M.R. Poummit Achievement Award for the highest department GPA.

Betsy is especially appreciative of her three core accounting professors, Dr. Linda Hall, John Olsavsky and Ken Plucinski, for the interest they showed in her success — and in her schedule. “They challenged their students. I felt like they really wanted to develop great future accountants,” she says.

Betsy Thayer immediately added to her bottom line after graduation, because she’s a Fredonian. Would you like to become one too? Just visit our admissions section to learn more — and connect with a counselor who can show you how the numbers add up as well.


Page modified 10/29/13