The second annual Business Leaders of the 21st Century panel discussion offered a crowd of students, faculty and staff the opportunity to learn from successful SUNY New Paltz alumni and trailblazers in local business.
“We’re thrilled to have such distinguished alumni and professionals participate in this discussion,” said New Paltz President Donald P. Christian. “It’s our goal to engage and connect alumni and industry professionals with our students through forums such as these.”
Consisting of regional industry leaders in hospitality, banking and agriculture, the discussion considered the various sorts of nonlinear paths that often lead to professional achievement. Student audience members posed questions on topics ranging from personal motivation to the impact of experiencing career highs and lows.
“I am so grateful that many of our successful alumni are willing to come back and share their expertise with our students,” said Kristin Backhaus, dean of the School of Business. “Their experience and insight is invaluable to the College and it lets current students know that with hard work, anything is possible.”
Alumna and Vice President of Turk Hospitality Group Shelley Turk ’86 (Business Administration) and alumnus and Senior Branch Manager and Vice President of M&T Bank Sean Soliva ’04 (Business Management) were joined in the panel by Dr. Samuel Simons, president of product development and agricultural relations at Hudson Valley Fresh. Students in attendance showed their appreciation to this accomplished group, volunteering their time and sharing career highlights with the crowd of eager students.
“I came to see Dr. Simons,” said Diana Cruz ’16 (International Relations and Spanish). “He has such an interesting background as a medical doctor. And now, as a businessman he’s effecting change in a different way.”
The three panelists were united by their jointly-held conviction that the journey to success can often be unpredictable, but can only come about as the result of hard work and perseverance.
“When given the opportunity, I took risks,” said Solvia. “I raised my hand, I said yes. I worked harder and longer because I wanted to be successful and now it’s paid off.
This event was hosted by the Office of Development in collaboration with the Career Resource Center and the Provost’s Office, and stands as a model of the importance of alumni participation in the College’s ongoing mission of engaging with current students.