Young Alum Success Stories


Office of Admissions
Fenner House
The State University of New York at Fredonia
Fredonia, NY 14063
(800) 252-1212 toll free
(716) 673-3251 local
(716) 673-3249 fax

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>>

Betsy ThayerMeet Betsy Thayer. She came to Fredonia seeking a career change. She left as one of the top new accountants in the nation. 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:

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:

Ruff landed purr-fect role with ‘Cats’ national tour

In the theatre business, it’s unusual for a college graduate to land her first job just weeks after earning her diploma; and, when that job is with the North American tour of Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Cats,” it’s downright exceptional.

Elizabeth Ruff, a 2011 Musical Theatre alumna, auditioned for and was selected to join the ensemble of the “Cats” 30th anniversary North American tour. Originally cast as “Female Vocal Swing,” shortly into rehearsals she was promoted to the role of “Jellylorum.”

Liz Ruff '11In addition, she became the understudy for “Grizabella,” the frail, elderly feline who sings the musical’s most famous number, “Memory.” This classic ballad has been performed by dozens of the world’s biggest recording artists, including Johnny Mathis, Barry Manilow and Barbara Streisand.

And on March 18, 2012, in Madison, Wisc., it was performed live for the first time by SUNY Fredonia’s Elizabeth Ruff, ’11.

She would be called upon three more times to perform the role during the coast-to-coast, 34-city tour across the U.S. and Canada.

“It was incredibly nerve wracking every single time I had to go on (to play Grizabella),” Ms. Ruff admits. “She’s only on stage for 12 minutes throughout the entire show, but it’s a very important 12 minutes. When it’s over, there’s definitely a sigh of relief, but also a magical moment where you say to yourself, ‘I really love my job.’”

Ruff recognizes how well-rounded her experiences at Fredonia were.

“You learn about every part of the business — not just acting and singing, but the scene shop, the costumes, the tech,” she recalls.

She believes that was a key factor in what set her apart during her audition and on tour.

“I could tell that the cast and directors appreciated that I knew a little bit about their world,” she says. “I don’t think I could have received the same level of education if I had gone to another school.

“The atmosphere that Fredonia creates is so nurturing,” she adds. “You become friends with your professors. I mean, they’re definitely teachers – but they don’t treat you like children or think of you as ‘young whippersnappers,’” she laughs. “They’re there to help you mature, find out who you want to be, and discover the mark you want to make in the world.”

Those who know Liz agree this is just the first of many “memories” she will create — because she is a Fredonian. Would you like to become one? Just visit our admissions section to learn more — and connect with a counselor who can help you rise to stardom too!


Page modified 7/15/14