Alumni virtual events bring community together, inspire self-care

When the College canceled campus events due to COVID-19, the Office of Development & Alumni Relations considered how to continue to engage the SUNY New Paltz cohort of more than 65,000 alumni.

In an effort to lift spirits and utilize a variety of talents and professions, a calendar of Alumni Virtual Programming was scheduled. The bi-weekly online events rely on expert alumni who serve as resources for the rest of the campus community on platforms like Facebook Live and Zoom.

“We wanted to do something for our community that would bring them a little escape and joy,” said Director of Alumni Relations Shana Circe ’02 (Visual Arts) ’08 (Visual Art Education). “It’s no secret that our alumni have a lot to offer during this time, from artistic talents to business expertise. Using online platforms help us stay connected when social distancing prevents our usual in-person events and celebrations.”

Circe kicked off the programming on April 13 with a welcome introduction on Facebook Live and followed up on April 15 with a “Let’s Get Creative” art contest featuring an illustration of the Shawangunk Ridge and a portrait of Hugo the Hawk. Artwork can be shared with the College at #npalumni or #npsocial or via email at

“We have learned a lot about connecting in new and creative ways online,” said Circe. We hope to sustain many of our newly implemented events and programs even after social distancing has ended. The value of engaging alumni in this way is apparent.”

Several alumni have agreed to share their talents including; Jason Valentino ’07 (Business) who held a financial advising Q&A; Juan-Carlos Piñeiro ’07 (Psychology) who hosted a session titled “Mindfulness Now” via Zoom; Kelly Murphy ’13 (Biology) who shared tips during a session titled “Balancing stress with seeds of Ayurveda” and Gorgette Green-Hodnett ’91 (Black Studies) who offered a course on “At Home Living and Learning.”

“It was an absolute joy to connect with Alumni via this virtual setting,” said Piñeiro. “During this “weird period” in human history where we must physically disconnect and somehow embrace alternate ways to socially connect I found it a true gift! In truth, it was an honor to share some of these tools that have been of service to both my clients and myself over the years.”

Financial Planning Specialist Jason Valentino shared Piñeiro’s sentiments, keying in on how well New Paltz saw an opportunity to connect despite these uncertain times. “With every challenge that’s thrown our way, if we dig deep enough, we can almost always uncover an equal amount of opportunity that comes along with it,” he said. “I was thrilled to be given the opportunity to both communicate that message to a captive audience that I care deeply about- our fellow New Paltz alumni- and simultaneously position myself as a thought leader in my profession.”

For more information on the Alumni Virtual Events visit