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>>

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:

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:

Lopez leaps from classroom to global PR agency Ogilvy

Raul Lopez grew up in the New York City borough of Queens. His family was very close – and large. Although he has just one younger sister, his parents come from big, close-knit families.

“I have something like 60 cousins just on my mom’s side alone,” says Lopez.

Raul Lopez_LG Phones

So when it came time to choose a college, the fact that he considered a university seven hours from home surprised his family. It was a little nerve-wracking even to him.

However, Raul had heard about SUNY Fredonia’s strong communications programs, and when he received the phone call which told him he was accepted, it changed his life forever.

“I still remember getting that call to congratulate me,” says Lopez. “That welcoming feeling still gives me goose bumps.”

He sent in his deposit right away, even though he hadn’t visited the campus. But after coming to orientation, his fears were quickly put to rest.

“I knew I made a great choice right away,” he says. “It felt like home as soon as I stepped foot on campus.”

Today, Raul works for Ogilvy Public Relations, a legendary communication agency which hired him as an Assistant Account Executive just months after he graduated. The company serves some of the world’s most admired brands and institutions, including DuPont, Ford, BP and American Express.

His primary account is LG Electronics, ranked #225 on the 2013 Fortune Global 500 list. He’s helped LG launch major new phone and TV products. He’s been part of the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. He’s worked with partners such as Bentley Motors, Showtime and Best Buy.

And he only graduated in 2012.

Raul Lopez (right)

Raul Lopez with celebrity Chef Richard Blais from Bravo TV's "Top Chef."

Raul marvels at how much Fredonia helped him prepare for the business world, starting with his first advertising course.

“The textbook we used was ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’ (authored by agency founder David Ogilvy),” he says. “When I started at Ogilvy, I was given that same book at orientation, and I couldn't help but laugh.”

He gained experience from four distinct internships, which he believes really set him apart from other candidates. One was with Buffalo’s largest and oldest public relations firm, working for a staff member who was also a Fredonia graduate — and an adjunct instructor in Fredonia’s communication department.

“It was great to learn from someone who does this kind of work every day,” Raul attests. “It opened my eyes to a whole new part of the industry, and showed me how fun PR could really be.”

Fredonia’s full-time professors were even more influential, especially Bond Benton who, Raul says, was instrumental in widening his eye to the global scope of public relations, and Ann Carden, APR, a member of the Public Relations Society of America’s College of Fellows, who Raul describes as both a great professor and a friend.

“Her door is always open to chat about anything, which makes her relationships with her students in the classroom so much stronger — and not too many people can say they were taught by a PRSA Fellow.”

In 2011, he interned with SUNY Fredonia’s Public Relations Office, promoting the campus to prospective students, alumni and other audiences, and publicizing major events. That experience, Lopez says, was his most valuable internship, because it gave him the freedom to suggest and lead a variety of tactics.

“It allowed me to have an impact on campus. I not only learned about issues facing higher education, but I learned a ton about myself,” Raul says. “And how many students can say they rocked out with the creator of (the video game) ‘Guitar Hero’ and wrote about (hip hop artist) Lupe Fiasco?”

Raul also credits two extracurricular groups: Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE, now called Enactus), within Fredonia’s School of Business; and his fraternity, Delta Chi.

Raul Lopez

“Our SIFE advisor taught us that, if we had a vision, we needed to develop a set of goals and figure out how to achieve them,” recounts Raul, who traveled to New York and Kansas City, Mo., to compete in regional and national events.

His fraternity work gave him strong event management experience, including organizing his chapter’s 20th anniversary reunion and initiating a new campus tradition: the Delta Chi Easter Egg Hunt, which welcomes area children to SUNY Fredonia’s President’s House each spring.

Today Lopez says that, while the events he’s organizing have ‘slightly’ higher stakes, the basic elements are the same.

“Just a few weeks ago, we held an event with Bentley Motors at a $25 million home in The Hamptons. It showcased LG’s high-end TVs,” he explains. “I was a key part of the event team, and experiences like planning that Delta Chi reunion definitely gave me things I could draw on here.”

Raul’s career has taken off in ways he never imagined. Then again, he made sure to aim high — because he is a Fredonian! Would you like to become one too? Just visit our admissions section to learn more — and connect with a counselor who can help your career take flight too!


Page modified 10/29/13