Alumni Interview Series launches with one-on-one conversations about finding success after graduation

Rebecca Kassay ’10 (Environmental Studies) and Dynahlee Padilla ’19 (Journalism) explored their time at New Paltz, as well as Kassay’s long career as a community organizer, volunteer, entrepreneur and local government official, during a recent episode of the College’s new Alumni Interview Series.

Their conversation aired on Jan. 5, 2020, as the first in a series developed by the Office of Development and Alumni Relations that seeks to share inspiring alumni stories with the greater campus community. Padilla will serve as the host for the series, currently focused on entrepreneurship opportunities and experiences among recent alumni.

“We are always looking to create opportunities for our alumni to connect,” said assistant director for alumni relations Elizabeth Diuiguid. “This series allows them to share their stories in their own way while making connections with alumni hosts and campus viewers online. Their success is ours to share and we are extremely excited to hear the various ways that SUNY New Paltz shaped their lives.”

Meet Rebecca Kassay ’10 (Environmental Studies)

Kassay spent her time at New Paltz working toward a uniquely crafted contract major that prepared her to fill many roles within her community.  As an activist and organizer, an innkeeper, a nonprofit board member, a volunteer and mentor, the alumna does her best to balance it all in an uncertain world.

“As time goes on, issues seem to grow more complex and uncertain, but one thing has stayed the same: when I need help picking my chin up, I step into my community and do something good,” said Kassay. “Anything: Cook at a soup kitchen, help to plant a garden, read to kids at the library.”

As a producer and host for Be the Change with Rebecca, Kassay joins local volunteers at dynamic community service opportunities across America, empowering viewers to “be the change” in their own communities.

Kassay has also demonstrated a strong commitment to public service. She was recently elected to the board of Village Trustees in Port Jervis, New York, where she further serves her community and seeks to empower her fellow villagers to impact their communities in lasting and important ways.

“I meet the kindest people who are also busy, and anxious, and overwhelmed, but out there doing good, too, despite it all. I’m reminded that I am not alone, I am not powerless, and that my community is full of incredible people.

Kassay is a 2017 SUNY New Paltz 40 Under Forty honoree, the founder and director of Students Taking Action for Tomorrow’s Environment (STATE), and a participant in the Worldview Impact Foundation.

The next Alumni Interview will feature alumna Stephanie Whiteman ’12 and will air Feb. 2 at 7:30 p.m. via Facebook Live. Learn how you can participate in the series online.