Throughout the academic year, the Office of Alumni Relations provides students with an opportunity to hear alumni speak about their experiences working in various professional fields. These presentations offer students a clear idea of what to expect of a career in a particular business or industry through first-hand accounts. Faculty coordinate their classes with individual alumni to allow students a glimpse at the working world from the security of the classroom. The benefits of this program are two-fold, affording alumni the opportunity to return to campus and meet current students, and allowing students to benefit from the advice and understanding of successful Western New England University graduates.

If you have an interest in speaking to a class or offering your experiences to our students in another format, please contact Kristina Oleksak, associate director of advancement events, by calling 413-782-1557 or via email at

Alumni Speakers News

April 2014

Valerie Baigert '06 Speaks at Psychology and
Neuroscience Alumni Colloquium on April 30

psichi2014gifThe Sixth Annual Psychology and Neuroscience Alumni Colloquium on April 30 featured Valerie Baigert ’06, a school psychologist in the Ellington, CT public school system. She is pictured on the right with Associate Professor of Psychology Jessica Carlson Outhouse, the 2014 winner of the Teaching Excellence Award. Financial support for the Colloquium was provided by a grant from the Alumni Association.

Baigert talked about her job and stressed the importance of internships to the students. “When you have hands-on experience, you will have a leg up,” she said. “Employers will realize you know exactly what you are doing versus just knowing the theory behind it.”

A reception preceded the presentation, which took place in the Psychology Lounge at the Center for the Sciences and Pharmacy.

April 2014

Trustee Paul Mancinone L'92 Talks About
Philanthropy with Communication Students


On April 23, University Trustee and local philanthropist Paul Mancinone L’92 (pictured in the middle) spoke about civic involvement and giving back to one’s community to students in the Business Communication class taught by Professional Educator of Communications Brenda Garton-Sjoberg (second from left). Also in attendance at the talk were President Anthony S. Caprio (left) and Director of Alumni Relations Kathy Pappas G’98 (right).

Mancinone, a CPA and tax attorney, is on the boards of several charitable organizations, including the Ronald McDonald House and the South End Community Center. In 2009 gave back to Western New England University by directing a gift to the institution to name a School of Law staff lounge after his late father, Sylvio Mancinone.

March 2014

College of Engineering Alumni Discuss Their
Careers at Second Annual Networking Dinner

kowalskinetwork14gifOn March 1, College of Engineering alumni gathered at Rivers Memorial Hall for their second annual Networking Dinner with professors, administrators, and students. Speaking at the event were College of Engineering Assistant Dean Richard Grabiec, Lou Masi ’88, Lisa Murray ’04, Kyle Pepin ’13, and Alumni Relations Director Kathy Pappas G’98. Pictured are Jhonatan Nagasako, a junior majoring in biomedical engineering and minoring in cybernetics (left); and Stanley Kowalski III ’92, chairman of the board at FloDesign, Inc. and 2009 Alumnus of the Year. View the photo album/slide show.

The event was hosted by the University’s chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, Biomedical Engineering Society, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, Institute of Industrial Engineers, and the Society of Women Engineers.

Murray described her somewhat circuitous route to her present role as a laboratory supervisor at the College of Engineering. The native of Jamaica, who majored in biomedical engineering, began her career as an environmental analyst, and then was a teacher before returning to the University and “feeling like I’m back home.” She credited her education with providing her with the know-how and confidence she needs in her career. “The rigorous program they put me through prepared me to tackle anything,” she said.

March 2011

Alumni TV News Photographers Share Advice With Students


Students in the Broadcast II class recently enjoyed a special visit from two alumni who are now news photographers for WGGB abc40 in Springfield. Bobby Souza ’10 (pictured right) and Kenneth Mahoney ’10 took time from their hectic work schedules to visit students and give tips and advice for how to become a success in the broadcast industry.

If you have an interest in speaking to a class or offering your experiences to our students in another format, please contact Kristina Oleksak, associate director of advancement events, at 413-782-1557.

February 2011

Students Learn About Athletics Director Position from Mike Roy ’93


Mike Roy ’93, athletics director at Minnechaug Regional High School in Wilbraham, MA, spoke to students in Assistant Professor Curt Hamakawa's Introductory Sport Management class on February 8. Roy told the students that even though he is essentially a one-person shop and wears many hats, he loves his job and “wouldn’t trade it for anything else.” At the end of his talk, Roy invited students interested in becoming a high school athletics director to spend a day or half-day with him on the job in order to gain a better idea of what the position entails.

If you have an interest in speaking to a class or offering your experiences to our students in another format, please contact Kristina Oleksak, associate director of advancement events, at 413-782-1557.

December, 2010

Young Alumni Featured in Sports Careers Panel Discussion


In conjunction with the College’s latest Open House December 5, the School of Business’ Sport Management Department hosted its annual Sport Careers Panel Discussion featuring alumni Jay Martyn ’05, Stephen Hanjack ’07, Chris Wilk ’07, Breanne Roche ’09, AJ Pappas ’09, and Evan Bartus ’10. Approximately 200 people attended the session in Sleith 100.

In the photo, Associate Professor of Sports Management Dan Covell (at podium) presents Hanjack (standing at left) with the Sport Management Distinguished Young Alumnus Award, while previous award recipient Martyn (center) assists. Hanjack is manager of marketing and game operations/sales for the Springfield Falcons American Hockey League team.

November, 2010

Alumni Share Advice With Business Students


On November 15, five alumni presented a panel discussion to first-year students in the Business 101 class taught by Marilyn Pelosi, professor and associate dean of the School of Business. The alumni shared key insights into the valuable lessons learned when they made the transition from college to the world of work. This opportunity was made possible by a collaboration between the School of Business, the Career Center, and the Office of Alumni Relations.

Pictured are (L-R) Pelosi, Chris Abatsis ’07, rental account manager at Ryder System; Kate Kimball ’08, a commission analyst at Retail Brand Alliance/Brooks Brothers; Ryan Emerson ’05, sports information director at Colby Sawyer College; Ashley LaRocque ’10, public relations and marketing coordinator at Six-Point Creative Works; and David Yousefzadeh ’10, a financial representative at Northwestern Mutual.

November, 2010

Jay Martyn ’05 Gives Students a Tour of Rentschler Field


On November 18, Rentschler Field Operations Manager Jay Martyn ’05 gave 29 Western New England College students a behind-the-scenes tour of the 40,000-seat facility in East Hartford, CT. Home of the UConn Huskies football team, as well as the Hartford Colonials of the United Football League (UFL), Rentschler Field is undergoing work on its turf in preparation for an upcoming UFL game.

The trip was facilitated by Sharianne Walker, chair and professor of Sport Management.

Martyn, who majored in Sport Management as an undergraduate, was a goalkeeper for the Golden Bears men’s soccer team and a 2004 New England Intercollegiate Soccer League All Star.

October, 2010

Communication Students Learn from the Pros,
Including WWLP 22 News Reporter Matt Caron ’10

1caron_garton_webcopygifBroadcast journalists Anne Thomas, senior producer with CBS 3 Springfield, and Matt Caron ’10, reporter for WWLP 22 News, recently spoke to students enrolled in the Communication department’s Television Broadcasting course. During their separate appearances, Thomas and Caron detailed what life is like in a professional newsroom, shared insights about their particular jobs, and offered advice to aspiring broadcast journalists on breaking into the business.

Caron’s talk was a homecoming of sorts. He was recently offered a job as a multimedia journalist at WWLP after working at the station during his college years. He is pictured with his former professor Brenda Garton.

During the visit, Garton presented him with the “22” pin that she wore during her years anchoring the evening news at the station (pictured below).


October, 2010

J. A. Rodriguez ’83 Discusses How Achieve Professional Success in a Tough Economy at Engineering Symposium


Western New England College students were urged to “change your perspective and witness the awesome power of you” during a School of Engineering-sponsored symposium featuring alumnus J.A. Rodriguez Jr. ’83 on October 26. A senior manager with Raytheon Technical Services Company, Rodriguez is a nationally known expert on leadership and management of environmental, health, and safety policy and programs. Shown above speaking to students before his presentation, he talked about achieving professional success in the current difficult economic environment.

“You have to learn right now that you have to develop your brain while you are in college. When you step into the corporate environment and you are interviewing, you are selling your brain,” Rodriguez said. "Where are you going to get your brainpower from? Right here, at Western New England College. And then you are going to sell it. People pay you—companies pay you—for your brain power.”

Along with being a highly sought-after commentator on topics from corporate ethics to the BP oil spill, Rodriguez is the author of Not Intuitively Obvious—Transition to the Professional Work Environment, a book designed to help young professionals establish and maintain a successful career. His talk was cosponsored by D'Amour Library as part of the Library’s Athenaeum Series.

November, 2009

Alumni Share Career Advice with Communication Classes

miculcy122gifTwo recent graduates visited with current students to discuss some helpful hints and pointers they used to begin their career. On November 2, Kristin Miculcy ’09 (pictured) spoke to students enrolled in Business Communication about the steps she took to become the director of marketing at the Reminder Publications, which publishes six community newspapers in the area. She also discussed the various roles that she plays in her career and brought samples of her work.

In addition to hearing from Miculcy about the recent graduate’s perspective of job hunting and interviewing, students received the interviewer’s perspective as Barbara Perry, vice president of sales and marketing at the Reminder Publications, spoke on the experience that she had interviewing Miculcy.

On November 4, students in the Principles of Communication course listened to some helpful advice from Teddy Woeppel ’07 (pictured below). As the director of communication at the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield, Woeppel had some great insight for students on life after college, graduate school, and balancing their career.

Throughout the academic year, the Office of Alumni Relations and individual schools at the College provide students with an opportunity to hear alumni speak about their experiences working in various professional fields.



October, 2009

Alumni Speaker Harold Epps G’84 Talks to Business Students
About the Importance of Continuous Improvement

eppsgifHarold Epps G’84 had a question for the Quality Operations Management class taught by School of Business Assistant Dean Marilyn Pelosi: “Are you willing to pay the price to achieve your goal?” Epps, the President and CEO of PRWT Services—one of the largest minority-owned companies in the country—discussed with students the importance of “continuous improvement” in their personal and professional lives to achieve success.

Throughout the academic year, the Office of Alumni Relations provides students with an opportunity to hear alumni speak about their experiences working in various professional fields. On October 9, Epps, pictured with Pelosi, delivered a lecture that focused on the importance of furthering one’s education and networking.

“The better you prepare, the better the outcome,” said Epps, urging students pursuing graduate degrees. Epps, who earned his MBA at the College while working full-time, recalled doing his homework in hotels, restaurants, and airports at a job that required constant travel —whatever it took to get his degree.

Epps told the students to continually expand their networks to improve their career paths. “Never put all your eggs in one basket,” he said. “Diversify.”

“Mr. Epps expressed, as many professors have here at Western New England College, how important networking is,” said student Eddie Palomba. “You never know who will open the next door for you.”

In addition, Epps encouraged students to be flexible by welcoming and accepting unforeseen situations as a way to enrich themselves. “As you navigate through life, don’t form a straight line,” he said, pointing out that he grew up in North Carolina, but took a job in Boston—and then in Wisconsin to acquire sales and marketing experience.

PRWT Services certainly follows this adaptability philosophy: Black Enterprise magazine named PRWT Services the 2009 Industrial/Service Company of the Year for reinventing itself as a major player in the high-growth pharmaceuticals industry. The Philadelphia-based company specializes in business process outsourcing, large-scale facilities management, and manufacturing and distribution for the life sciences industry.

Student John Welch said that Epps’ lecture prompted him to realize the importance of welcoming a nonlinear career and life path. “I always thought that I would continue my life’s journey in the Northeastern area of the country,” said Welch. “Mr. Epps’ example of taking a job offer in Wisconsin showed me that I do not have to limit myself in regards to location. I need to be open in order to succeed in this international business world.”

Alumni who have an interest in speaking to a class or offering their experiences to students in another format should contact Kristina Oleksak, associate director of advancement events, at 413-782-1557.

This story was written by Office of Alumni Relations intern Matt Mondry ’10.


December, 2008

Jacksonville Jaguars Scout Chris Prescott '01/G'07
Gives Students a Glimpse of Life in the NFL

prescottjags192009.gifChris Prescott ’01/G’07, regional scout for the Jacksonville Jaguars, recently gave a presentation to students at Western New England College as part of the School of Business Sport Management Speaker series. Prescott spoke about the realities of careers in the NFL and his role in player personnel for the Jaguars. Prescott, who was a member of the Golden Bear football team, is pictured holding a thank you gift from current sport management majors and football team members (left to right) Jordan Capitanio, Evan Bartus, and Justin Walz.

Scouting out college players is only part of Prescott’s job. In the pre-season, he spends much of his day “watching tape” for recruitment or player elimination. During the season, he travels around the country to observe prospects in action and attends receptions at all-star games, such as the Cactus Bowl and the Senior Bowl, to “eyeball them physically and see what they’ve got between the ears.”

During spring training, the Panthers’ coaching staff and scouts spend hours reviewing tape to see who measures up.“We start off with 88 guys in camp. The roster has to get down to 53 for the season,” said Prescott. “What I appreciate about our organization is that you know everyone has put work into their decisions, so you respect their opinions. That’s exactly what they taught us about teamwork in the Sport Management program. We learned how to work in groups, delegate, and brainstorm. Dr. Walker and Dr. [Daniel] Covell emphasized the importance of working together to get the best possible finished product. The decisions we make in the staff room show up on the field on Sunday.”

Prescott had more high praise for his education at Western New England College, which “does a great job in finding internships for students,” he said. “I worked for the Springfield Falcons; Madison Square Garden; the Hartford Wolf Pack; the New England Sea Wolves, an arena football team; and the Bridgeport Bluefish, a minor league baseball team.”

The best part of his position, said Prescott, is “having a job that allows me to be around something I’ve loved my whole life. I’m extremely competitive. I love to win and that all starts with the decisions we make in the scouting team. As they say, you can lose with talent, but you can’t win without it.”

November, 2008
Alumni Panel to First Year Business Students:
Begin Preparing for Your Career Now

bizpanelnov1208.gif“It is never too early in your college career to begin preparing for your professional career,” said Meghan Pfau Mancino ’05 (pictured on the left) at a First Year Business Seminar Alumni Panel on November 12. “Time really does move fast, and better to have some kind of plan formed rather than sit back and then say later on, ‘I wish I could have done this or that.’”

Marilyn Pelosi, associate dean of the School of Business, couldn’t agree more. “Begin with the end in mind,” she often tells her students. “Just like an athlete visualizing an upcoming game, first-year students should have a clear idea of what they want their resumes to look like,” she said.

The phrase “Begin With the End in Mind” is also the title of the second chapter of The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, the book by Stephen Convey that is required reading in Pelosi’s First Year Business Seminar. “This kind of forward thinking should shape their day-to-day decision making,” said Pelosi.

The panelists, pictured left to right, were Mancino, a human resources generalist for Environmental Compliance Services, Inc.; Adam Moreau ’03, an account executive at Comcast Spotlight; Theresa Perkins ’06, a staff accountant at Big Y Foods; Ike Erike ’06, a senior cost analyst at Sargent Manufacturing; Bart Haskell ’07, a systems engineer/software integrator at Progeny Systems; and Michael Scavotto ’08, a staff accountant at SS&C Technologies, Inc.

Pelosi said that alumni panels are effective for freshman because not only do they receive sound advice of how to prepare for their careers when they are undergraduates, they also get a clear idea of what to expect after graduation through firsthand accounts of the working world. “The panelists discussed the importance of networking, communication skills, problem-solving skills, and hands-on experience,” she said.

The panelists also advised the students to take advantage of their professors’ expertise, internship opportunities, and the Career Center’s resources.

Mancino discussed with the students “how my professors helped me learn critical thinking skills, as well as public speaking and time management skills, among others. These important skills are what have helped me transition from school to career. There will always be on-the-job training in any new job—college doesn’t teach you your job. It teaches you the analytical skills needed to do your job well.”

Pelosi assembled the panel with the help of Maria Cokotis, a career counselor at the Career Center. Alumni interested in speaking to classes about their career experiences should contact Kristina Oleksak at 413-782-1557.

March, 2008
Life After College: School of Engineering Grad
Offers Lessons on Careers and Graduate School

malek_speaker_pg.gifWestern New England College School of Engineering alumnus Justin Malek '02 (left) spoke to students during the Mechanical Engineering department's all-hands meeting in Rivers Memorial Hall March 11.

He talked about life after graduation including his current work as an aerospace engineer at Northrop Grumman in southern California. He also credited the Western New England College Engineering faculty with preparing him for graduate school at Stanford, one of the top engineering schools in the nation. "I was more ready than a lot of the students from larger schools," said Malek. He also stressed the importance of networking, relaying how relationships he formed at Western New England College and Stanford helped him land his current job.

Alumni interested in speaking to classes about their career experiences should contact Kristina Oleksak at 413-782-1557.

January, 2008
Alumni Panel Shares Career Tips with
Human Resource Management Class



Networking, leadership, and communication: these are the critical skills graduates need in order to make their mark in the business world, according to an alumni panel that recently spoke to a Human Resource Management class taught by Peter Hess, acting associate dean of the School of Business (pictured at the far left).

The panelists, (seated, left to right) Deanna Laffan ’07, Christopher Abatsis ’07, and Megan (Pfau) Mancino ’05, provided students with a description of the job search process and their transition into the working world. They also credited Western New England College with preparing them for their careers through internships and real-world scenarios in business courses.

“I learned to network at my internship at the Middlesex West [Concord, MA area] Chamber of Commerce, and I had the opportunity to develop my leadership skills through a community service project with the management association,” said Abatsis, who majored in management and is a rental management trainee for Ryder Systems, Inc.

Mancino recalled that the presentations she made in her School of Business classes “helped me build my communication skills and become more comfortable with public speaking,” said the human resources generalist for Environmental Compliance Services, Inc. in Agawam, MA. “I also developed organizational and computer skills at Western New England College,” she said. The general business graduate had high praise for her professors and the Career Center, which helped her find an internship in the human resources field. “On top of that, the Career Center helped me prepare my resume, and even offered mock interviews to help me develop my interviewing skills.”

Laffan, who graduated with a concentration in finance, also answered general and specific questions about her job as an accounting specialist for MassMutual Financial Group’s financial products division. Alumni interested in speaking to classes about their career experiences should contact Kristina Oleksak at 413-782-1557.

December, 2007

Alumni Panel to First Year Business Students:
Take Advantage of College’s Resources

biz_speaker_2pg..gif Networking and communication are skills that cannot be emphasized enough in any business career, according to a panel of six alumni in a recent First Year Business Seminar at the College. Members of the panel also urged the students to take advantage of advice from College faculty and career advisors.

Communication is important “even for the more technical jobs,” said Nathan Schwartz ’06 (pictured third from right), a senior underwriter for Sunlife Financial in Windsor, CT. Schwartz, a member-at-large in the Alumni Association Board of Directors, also advised the students in the Business 101 course to “use all the resources the College has available for help, including the Career Center.”

Ike Erike ’06, an industrial engineer and management trainee at UPS, credited the College with helping him develop his networking, organizational, interpersonal, and professional writing skills. “I would say that aligning myself with the Career Center played a great role in helping me attain my position,” he said. “Also, the willingness of professors to share their time outside the classroom setting was extremely beneficial in my development to become a valuable member of the business community.”

The other members of the panel were Sandra Stoughton ’04, a business development-marking associate at A.W. Hastings & Company in Enfield, CT, Mike Raymond ’02/G’04, head men’s and women’s tennis coach at the University of Hartford, Bart Haskell ’07, a systems engineer/software integrator at Progeny Systems in Groton, CT, and Danielle Nash ’07, an assurance associate at PricewaterhouseCoopers in Hartford.

In addition, Pat Kappenman, a corporate communications manager at MassMutual, presented a talk entitled, “Your career may surprise you…if you let it.” Alumni interested in speaking to classes to give students a glimpse of the working world should contact Kristina Oleksak at 413-782-1557.

November, 2007

Alumni Communications Professionals Give Advice to Students

dziok_speaker2_pg.gifTwo alumni recently visited Communication classes to discuss life after college: Darlotte Justice '04, the district director for the Office of State Senator Gale D. Candaras (D-Wilbraham) L'82, and Diana Dziok '06 (pictured), the marketing director of Reminder Publications, spoke with students about their college and career experiences.

Justice stressed the importance of internships and volunteering as critical components of their education. “I could literally write volumes about the benefits I gained and the knowledge I continually utilize as a result of my education in communication at Western New England College,” she said to a Business Communication class taught by Brenda Garton, professional educator of communications.

Among the topics Justice covered was the importance of being cautious about one’s image in the business environment. “A person’s personal and professional image is theirs to develop and maintain, and is theirs to ruin if they aren’t careful,” said Justice. She also explained the importance of creating a professional impression when communicating by email and phone.

Dziok, who made several presentations to Communication 100 classes, discussed how she began her career at Springfield's ABC-40 television station, and described the duties of her present job at Reminder Publications, which publishes six community newspapers in the area. Dziok also talked about the transition from school to work, saying she found the hands-on experience within the classroom particularly valuable.

Justice “was very impressed with the students’ level of participation in the discussion, the quality of their questions and the general feedback they provided,” she said. “They were attentive and I could sense that they appreciated the discussion and valued my insight.”

Alumni interested in speaking to classes to give students a glimpse of the working world should contact Kristina Oleksak at 413-782-1557.