Alumni Spotlight - Class of 2020 - Present

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Jessica King '20

"I began at SUNY Orange in the Spring of 2011 after the death of my fiancée. I decided then, there isn't a day that is promised to us, and I better get going. At that time, I had already been a dental assistant and my dream was always to become a dental hygienist. I enrolled and started taking night classes part-time. Once I finished all of the prerequisite courses in preparation for the dental hygiene program, I began applying and was denied three times. I met with advisors, retook some classes in order to get higher grades, and never gave up on my dream. I have to say, it was not easy to keep going. Every time I received the denial letter from the program, I wanted to just quit. I felt defeated, unworthy, and just awful. But I chose to keep going. After my third application, and third denial, I immediately started seeking other programs. I felt I deserved to achieve my goal. I sought out the Fortis Institute and was accepted into their program. A week later I received a call from SUNY Orange offering me a seat into the program and I gladly accepted. It took me three years of applying to finally be accepted into the program. Once in, I worked hard - harder than I think I ever worked. I became a better student, raised my GPA, and worked the entire time I was in the program. Needless to say, the struggle was real! I am forever grateful for the opportunity I was given. There wasn’t a day I didn't show the faculty how much it truly meant to me. In the end, I graduated with the A.S. in Mathematics and Natural Sciences and an A.A.S. in Dental Hygiene. None of this was easy. I am not very good at math, but I did my best and made it to the end. I was also our dental hygiene class fundraiser and managed to raise $357 in tooth brush sales before the Pandemic. The money was put towards our SUNY Orange Dental Hygiene pins that welcome us to the profession. The SUNY Orange Dental Hygiene program is likely the best in New York. We have outstanding passing rates and professors that really take pride in making sure we are well prepared. I have no doubt that I will pass all of my board exams and I have the Dental Hygiene faculty to thank for that. I am very grateful that I was finally given the opportunity to show SUNY Orange just how well of a student I could be.  It was incredible to say the least." 

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Maria Lopez ‘20

“I went into SUNY Orange as a non-traditional college student. I have two beautiful children now ages 5 and 9 and I've been married for 9 years. I dedicated myself to being a mother and wife, but I knew something was missing.  I knew that I wanted to do something with Criminal Justice, but didn't know what exactly I wanted to do. I met Ms. Penzato and she immediately got me started. Ms. P is knowledgeable and gave me the information I needed to start my classes. I even had the blessing of registering my 2-year-old at the time into the SUNY Orange Kinder College program. I think the Universe was aligned with me and what I wanted to do. Ms. Penzato placed me in one of Mr. Z's classes and I fell in love with Criminal Justice.  During this time, I was also trying to obtain my real estate license. I joined the Criminal Justice Club and was able to learn and be mentored by Ms. P and Mr. Z. I was awarded scholarships and it was the reason I feel like I have been so successful.  I also had the honor of interning for Repetitive Sean Patrick Maloney during the summer of 2019 because of the Criminal Justice Club. My first semester I made it on the Dean's List and I passed my NYS real estate salespersons license. I was on the Dean's List every semester and graduated in the Spring of 2020 with Manga Cum Laude Honors. Three months after graduation I was given an opportunity to work for Fearless! An amazing organization who help survivors of Domestic Violence. SUNY Orange has helped shape my life into what it is now.  I am a first generation immigrant from El Salvador and I have invested a lot into my education in the hopes that I may get where I want one day. I have earned my place and will continue to earn the positions, and things I want to manifest into my life. I also have done it to show my children an example of a hardworking Latina and a mother they can feel proud of.  Don't give up, don't back down. It's all about strategy and using your time wisely.”