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Graduates on the Go

A decade-by-decade look at our alumni.

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Summer 2007
| 1970s |
Not only is Jerome Leslie Eben (B.S. ’71) the principal of an architecture firm that bears his name, but he also consults for other architects and even manages to complete small architectural projects without the benefit of CAD. He has been married to his wife, Marsha, for 33 years. Their son, Jacob, is a filmmaker in New York City and their daughter, Dena, lives with her husband, Michael, and two-year old son, Alexander, in Loveland, Ohio. For Jerome, there was no individual NYIT professor who inspired him—he recalls liking them all.

Tom D’Aprile (B.S. ’74) is the District I Commissioner of Charlotte County, Fla. He was elected to the position in 2000, re-elected in 2004, and plans to run for a third term in 2008. This year, he and his wife, Delores, will celebrate their 47th anniversary. They have three children, two daughters, Debbie and Denise, and a son, Tommy.

Artie Kahn (B.S. ’74, M.B.A. ’78) is a computer specialist for the New York City Department of Education. He and his wife, Connie, live in Glendale, N.Y. and have three children, Farrah, Gina, and Jimmy. “When I was at NYIT, it moved locations three times,” Artie recalls. “I spent a lot of time in Central Park. I loved my teachers at NYIT, who were all very caring. It was because of their help that I landed five scholarships while I was there.”

Mike Pregmon (M.B.A. ’76) is the executive vice president of the Quality Assurance Institute, where he focuses on the user side of information systems, such as customer satisfaction, systems modeling, defining system requirements, building and maintaining systems, and acceptance testing. “NYIT was a special experience for me. I earned my degree in an off-campus program. It was particularly rewarding since a number of adjunct professors in the program worked at NASA. This added many interesting aspects to the courses, including learning about activities developed in the space program.” Over the years, Mike has been an author, consultant, senior corporate executive, and adjunct professor in the Graduate School of Business at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. He is now an adjunct professor at St. Petersburg College, also in Florida, and is a member of the Software Testing Advisory Board at the University of Washington. Mike was also honored as a Paul Harris Fellow, the Rotary Club International’s award for service to humanity worldwide.

Charles Giambalvo (B.S. ’78) is the vice president of worldwide sales and service for Brix Networks, which produces quality assurance products for converged network services such as voice, video, and data-over IP. The company sells these solutions to major international telephone and cable companies to help them maintain and troubleshoot their networks. Charles lives in Sudbury, Mass., with wife Karen, son Tony, and daughter Gina. “Dr. Edward Kafrissen was my favorite professor, bar none. His greatest strength is his ability to teach theory and practical application together, so the knowledge he transfers is the most understandable and useful to his students.” During his time at NYIT, Charles served as the chairman of the NYIT branch of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. “We had a great club room, complete with our own lab, refrigerator, sofas, and, most important, a toaster oven to heat frozen pizza. Our favorite project was building one of the first microprocessor kits, the KIM-1. This was when microchips were just emerging, and Dr. Kafrissen was helping us appreciate all the applications they would fit into, such as cars, microwaves, stereos, etc. He was more than right.”

Chris Mainini (B.S. ’79) is the vice president of innovations and quality at Radio Systems Corp. Based in Knoxville, Tenn., Chris considers the most gratifying part of his work to be “coordinating the efforts of associates in developing ‘game hanging’ technologies and setting up a quality and engineering office in Shenzhen, China.” He and his wife, Ann-Marie, have two children, Christine and Kevin. Chris says about NYIT, “I can clearly remember the days and nights when a tight group of us would find empty classrooms to study in and help each other get through the tough engineering and math classes. I know I could have never done it alone.” He adds that many of his classmates participated in the Radio Control Club to get electronics experience. “I can also remember watching The Creature from the Black Lagoon in 3-D at the Pub.”

| 1980s |
Suzan Lucas Santiago (B.F.A. ’80) is the director of interior architecture and a principal at Grad Associates, P.A., Gateway Center, in downtown Newark, N.J. She says the most gratifying part of her job is working with new clients and creating environments that reflect their business sectors and mission statements. Suzan has been married to Philip, a chiropractor, for 25 years. Not surprisingly, one of her best memories was meeting her husband when his chiropractor college shared space on NYIT’s Old Westbury campus. “I also enjoyed hanging out at the Pub and the Barefoot Peddler, playing volleyball, and participating in the tennis club,” says Suzan, whose hobbies these days include skiing, biking, hiking, cooking, and winemaking.

Itzhak Fisher (B.S. ’82) is the executive chairman of Nielsen Buzzmetrics. The company, which he helped found, bills itself as the global measurement standard in consumer-generated media (CGM). It helps companies, brands, and business professionals to better understand the influence and impact of CGM on products, issues, reputation, and image. “I am very proud and happy to have seen the company grow from inception to its size today.” He lives in New York City with his wife, Ruth. They have two sons, Ron and Gidon.

Ed de la Fuente (B.F.A. ’82) lives in Portland, Ore., with his wife, Joyce, and daughter Eva. He is the director of marketing for the audio entertainment group at Plantronics Inc., an international provider of mobile and telecommunications headsets. He also works in the audio electronics market through Plantronics’ wholly owned subsidiary, Altec Lansing Technologies. “I lead the product development team from discovery to market launch. Working with a small team that is supported by the larger organization allows us to be as nimble as a startup,” Ed says. His favorite place on campus was WNYT, the student-run radio station. “What made it great was that everyone there was devoted to building a career by making WNYT fun and very professional. I met some lifelong friends, some of whom I’m still in touch with today—sometimes it feels like we never left.”

Angelo Scialfa (B.F.A. ’83) recently accepted a new position in marketing partnerships with the WNBA’s New York Liberty, where he will handle corporate and sponsorship sales. One of his favorite parts of his new job: “I enjoy meeting with many different business leaders of Fortune 1,000 companies and learning their business and marketing strategies.” Angelo lives in Robbinsville, N.J., with his wife, Tracey McCarthy (B.F.A ’83), and daughters Victoria and Selena.

Although he graduated with a degree in computer science, John Lallier (B.S. ’84) particularly enjoyed his NYIT business classes, which he says were valuable additions to his technical education. Today, John is vice president of technology for FalconStor Software in Melville, N.Y., where he designs network storage solutions. He lives in Massapequa Park, N.Y., with his wife, Katherine Grimes Lallier, and their two children, James and Erin. His hobbies include—what else?—computers.

Suzanne Sowinski (B.A.R. ’85) is the owner of Sowinski Sullivan Architects in Sparta, N.J. The 15-person firm focuses on transportation, education, and hospitality architecture, as well as residential sectors. “I like to solve problems and use my talents as an architect in creative and new ways. [Associate Professor] Rodolfo Imas, my fourth-year design professor, taught me to think this way. We had to design projects without preconceived ideas.” Suzanne and her husband, Richard, have been married for more than 21 years and are the parents of 17-year-old triplets.

Charles Dragisa Lazin (M.A. ’88) is the founder and president of New Paltz, N.Y.-based Altren Consulting and Contracting Inc., specializing in alternative renewable energy. Firmly entrenched in the “green” movement in the Hudson Valley, Charles reports: “We have several teams designing and installing geothermal heating and cooling systems driven by solar photovoltaics for residential, educational, municipal, and commercial applications.” Using skills learned during his communication arts/computer graphics courses at NYIT, he is also working on a multimedia DVD that focuses on sustainable, green, energy-efficient design and installation steps applicable to a variety of developments. Charles is married to fellow communication arts alumna Linda Lauro-Lazin (M.A. ’89), a professor of computer graphics at Pratt Institute.

Michael Melamed (B.F.A. ’89) works for the television industry in California’s San Fernando Valley. He is an assistant director on Dexter, a crime series that airs on Showtime, and has held similar positions on such popular shows as Ghost Whisperer, Related, The Singles Table, and Insatiable. Other credits include Desperate Housewives, the sequel to The Dukes of Hazzard, and many independent features. “The most gratifying part of my work is the camaraderie I have with the cast and crew. It feels like a family at times. It’s nice to work with people who make you smile. I also love the magic of filmmaking.” Michael’s favorite teacher at NYIT was Professor Sal Laspada. “He was very good at explaining how the classroom experience would relate [to our careers] once we graduated,” he recalls.

| 1990s |
Elmer Porter Hardy Jr. (B.F.A. ’91) is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Port Jefferson, N.Y. After receiving his communication arts degree at NYIT, he went on to receive a Master of Divinity from the New Brunswick Theological Seminary. Elmer recently completed one year of the Doctor of Ministry program at the Morehouse School of Religion at the Interdenominational Theological Center in Atlanta, Ga. “One of my favorite NYIT memories was being a lead reporter for the award-winning student television news program, LI News Tonight, which allowed me to cover stories all across Long Island.”

Don Malloy (M.B.A. ’92) is the director of business development for Innovative Card Technologies, headquartered in Los Angeles. The company provides security and authentication solutions for online applications in the financial, enterprise, and government markets. “I found out early in my career that I was not satisfied being a scientist working in the laboratory. For more than 10 years, I have been marketing many new technologies, including Smart Cards, radio frequency identification, biometrics, and semiconductors.” Don lives in the Boston area with his wife of 30 years. They have three daughters, Jessica, Valerie, and Tiffany. “I enjoyed my time at NYIT,” Don says. “I was beginning my career and my family during those years. I especially enjoyed my quantitative methods and financial accounting courses.”

Ravindra Rao (M.S. ’94) is a senior technology specialist based in Flushing, N.Y., for CA Inc., one of the world’s largest information technology management software providers. She says the most gratifying part of her job is helping internal and external clients resolve problems. The company, founded in 1976, is headquartered in the United States and has 150 offices in more than 45 countries. CA Inc. serves more than 98 percent of Fortune 1,000 companies, as well as government entities, educational institutions, and thousands of companies throughout the world.

Jeff Bottomley (B.A.R. ’95) works as an associate and lead designer at O’Brien/Atkins Associates P.A., in Research Triangle Park, N.C. The architectural firm has won more than 60 design awards and was the inaugural winner of the American Institute of Architects-North Carolina Firm of the Year award. “Architecture is my first hobby, and I really love what I do,” Jeff says. Being a dad is also at the top of his list. He and his wife, Elizabeth, have three children, Stefan, Isabella, and Gabriella. Jeff also enjoys playing guitar, reading, and drawing. “My favorite teacher was Professor Paul Amatuzzo, but John Freidman and Pascal Hofstien were close seconds,” he notes.

Shawn Bolduc (B.S. ’98) took a position with JSA Inc., a firm specializing in architecture, interior design, and planning in Portsmouth, N.H. immediately after graduation. A job captain, he is now preparing to take his Architectural Registration Exams. “I am the construction administrator for a $42 million project at the University of New Hampshire, which is adding three new five-story dorms (730 beds total) as the first phase of a mini-master plan. The most gratifying part of my work is the diversity of the projects, as well as the ability to be part of watching what you draw on paper become a reality.” He lives in Rochester, N.H., with his wife, Rachel, and daughters Quincy Ann and Tess Sumner. “I am an avid outdoorsman and love hunting or fly-fishing. Homebrewing my own beer is also a hobby of mine. Favorite memories of NYIT include endless nights in the design studio, not to mention the Bauhaus golf ball-chipping competitions in the field adjacent to the dorm.”

Thomas Penna (B.A.R. ’98) is an intern at the architecture firm of O’Brien Atkins Associates P.A. in Durham, N.C. He moved to Raleigh, N.C., in 2004 with his wife, Dena Spiro-Penna (B.A.R. ’98). Together, they travel around the world. Thomas also enjoys physical fitness.

| 2000s |
Christine Marie Caruso (B.Arch. ’02) is the office manager and a project manager for Peter Caradonna Architects. “I work in the field of sustainable architecture and absolutely love everything I do in my field.” She takes pride in knowing that her contributions are part of the bigger picture to save the planet. Christine lives in Moriches, N.Y., with her husband, Chris. “For the last two years, I volunteered for the United States Green Building Council’s Long Island chapter as a board member, program chair, membership chair, and sponsorship chair, and hosted two large galas. I love to snowboard and scrapbook, as well as travel. My husband and I have been all around the world, including Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Aruba, Mexico, and the Bahamas.”

John Dambeck (B.S. ’02) works for Parker Hannifin Corp.’s Electronic Systems Division as a senior mechanical design engineer, where he enjoys the diversity of his work and the day-to-day challenges it provides. Along with his wife, Lynn, and two daughters, Melanie and Meghan, John lives in Smithtown, N.Y. The family enjoys skiing, traveling, and boating. He attended NYIT part-time in the evenings for about seven years while he continued to work full-time. John says NYIT gave him the tools to succeed in the extremely competitive aerospace industry. “The long hours of studying and working full-time were painful, but also gratifying, and as I look back, somewhat enjoyable. It was time well spent.” Upon graduation, John was immediately promoted. Today, his work philosophy is to “learn something new every day. That, and enjoying my career, is what keeps me striving for improvement.”

Vikas Advani (M.B.A. ’04) works for WOW Global Corp. LLC, a Pittsburgh-based professional services company that has been highlighted in Forbes magazine. As a national accounts manager, he is involved in business development ranging from target research and identification to strategy building and account development. For Vikas, the most enjoyable part of his work is interacting with Fortune 1,000 clients in different industries, being exposed to their respective technologies, and providing them with cost-efficient information technology solutions and consulting services to improve their businesses. Vikas arrived from India just one day before his first NYIT class. “On my first day of school, I wore a shiny blue shirt—my professor asked if I came straight from ‘Bollywood.’” By the end of his NYIT education, he realized his journey was worth it. “NYIT helped me develop into a seasoned, matured, ethical, and successful professional,” says Vikas, who lives in Pittsburgh with his wife, Shikha Ajwani.

Jorge Sierra (M.B.A. ’04) works for ADT Security Services in Boca Raton, Fla., as a technology project manager. He lives in Davie, Fla., but will soon relocate to Jacksonville, where he will continue to work in his current position. Along with his wife, Sheila, Jorge bought property there last summer, and construction on his house has just been completed. They have one daughter who turned a year old on March 2 and have another baby girl on the way. Jorge was recently inducted into the 2007-2008 edition of the Cambridge Who’s Who Among Executives and Professionals. He attended NYIT as part of a Master of Business Administration program with ADT Security Services. “There were about 12 of us who completed the program in August 2004. It was an opportunity we could not pass up, and I really enjoyed the experience of being able to attend such an excellent program.” Jorge says his favorite professor was Ron Capute, though that might be because Ron also happens to be his boss.

On March 1, Sean Gallagher (M.B.A. ’05) and his wife, Courtney, became the proud parents of their first child, Liam. Sean serves as a program director and senior research analyst at Eduventures Inc., an education-focused market research and consulting firm based in Boston. There, he conducts research that helps colleges and universities innovate and develop new degree programs, courses, and strategies to better serve students. “It’s very fulfilling to work on improving education and outcomes for students and colleges—this helps improve people’s lives and also enhances the competitiveness of our economy and nation.” Sean says he enjoys being a national advocate for quality courses and programs that are more convenient, flexible, and tailored to the needs of students who are working full-time. Not surprisingly, he earned his degree through Ellis College of NYIT, an online school that specializes in meeting the needs of working professionals. “The first and only time I was on an NYIT campus was during commencement, when I had the opportunity to meet the people whom I had studied with for the previous two years. They came from all over the world—from Japan to Germany to Brazil. It was an incredible experience. I learned so much from their professional and cultural backgrounds and experiences.”

Raymond Snyder (M.B.A. ’05) works for Océ Business Services in New York City as a segment marketing manager responsible for developing plans, programs, and new services for key industry segments, including the legal and healthcare areas. He is also an adjunct professor of economics at Centenary College in New Jersey. “The ability to be creative when developing marketing plans, projects, and new services, and then seeing them [implemented], is particularly gratifying. Also, being able to take the initiative on a project that has resulted in honors for Océ Business Services and which provides additional marketing opportunities was exciting.” At NYIT, Raymond took classes that provided dual concentrations in strategy and economics, as well as marketing. He was also invited to join NYIT’s chapter of Delta Mu Delta, an international honor society that focuses on business administration. “The best part of the NYIT experience was the interaction with fellow students from a variety of states, countries, and job backgrounds. The discussions we had were always interesting, thought-provoking, and provided an extra idea or a new perspective.” Raymond tries to keep in touch with his former NYIT classmates. Along with Laura, his wife of 19 years, he has three daughters, Emily, Rachel, and Johanna.

Valencia de la Vega (M.B.A. ’05) is the director of purchasing for the Phoenix CSE division of Pulte Homes Inc. She considers her co-workers an extended family. “They are honest, reliable, and dedicated to building the best quality home money can buy.” Along with her husband, Greg, Valencia has two dogs and lives in Phoenix, Ariz. “My favorite memories of NYIT were the times I worked on group projects. I could not have been more fortunate to work with such a great group of people. I also had a fantastic advisor, Brett Kuhnert, who was always very helpful, as well as a great instructor, Professor Russell Radford, who truly cared about my learning experience.”

Natalie Almonte (B.S. ’06) works at the Progressive Center for Social Inclusion as the office manager. The most gratifying part of her work, she says, is “helping address structural racism.” She lives in Washington Heights, N.Y., where she is pursuing a physician aassistant degree. “My favorite teacher was Dr. Garrison at the Old Westbury campus. My fondest memories are the seasonal student activities and programs that NYIT offered during free hour that combined free food, culture, music, and friends. My favorite was Mayfest.”

Joe Colapietro (B.S. ’06) is a project superintendent for Pulte Homes of New York, LLC. The Old Bethpage, N.Y., resident is responsible for scheduling, budgeting, supervising, and checking to ensure new homes are built with quality. He is also an emergency medical technician for the Plainview Fire Department, but still finds time for fishing, baseball, and roller hockey. His passion, though, continues to be architecture. His advice to others: “Don’t be afraid of going outside of the box, cubicle, or office. Know what you are designing.”

Michael Kurkujian (M.B.A ’06) is a quality leader working for SES (Société Européenne des Satellites) ASTRA. SES ASTRA, based in Luxembourg, is a leading provider of satellite and network connectivity to media corporations and governments around the world. “My work is interesting because I meet all kinds of people within a company. I deal with cross-functional projects, so I get to capture the views of many players, from senior vice presidents to regular employees in various departments.” Michael says his main hobby is media production. “I spend 90 percent of my free time promoting and building a pan-European initiative to develop rich media content for high-tech companies. These rich media tools support and help marketing and communication managers to boost their respective campaigns.”

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