Alumni

Alumni Profiles

candice-beck
Candice Beck
Major: Public Policy
Current Job Title: Research Coordinator
Employer: Edelman Intelligence
Industry: Market Research & Public Relations
Quote: “Having a liberal arts education from a technology-based school really does give me an edge over my peers and co-workers. At RIT, I was exposed to a wide range of software and technology and was expected to be able to use it well. Today, I find that I pick up on new programs and tools quickly and I’m comfortable ‘talking shop’ with technology experts, which is important in my job.”

Tell us about how your RIT experience influenced your life personally and professionally?

I absolutely loved my RIT experience! Professionally, the school and my program helped boost my confidence and my ability to think critically. Personally, I gained a quality education that will always be with me. I also explored new hobbies, developed wonderful friendships, found a mentor, and even met my fiancé there. RIT will always be a huge part of my life.

What were you involved in outside of the classroom at RIT?

Outside of the classroom, I worked as a student assistant in the Public Policy department, attended anime club, and frequented most of the coffee stops around campus.

What makes you most proud to be a tiger?

I don’t think I can pinpoint one thing above another that makes me a proud tiger. I had such a positive all-around experience at RIT, it would be hard not to be proud!

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

I would tell myself to worry less! Life if unexpected, and that’s okay – that’s half the fun of it all.

chris-spinelli
Chris Spinelli
Major: Economics
Current Job Title: Chief Executive Officer
Employer: Roc Brewing Company
Industry: Craft Brewing
Quote: “RIT helped me find a love and passion for Economics and understanding markets. It led me to find a passion and excitement about the growing craft beer industry. If I had not studied Economics, I might not have seen the opportunity to open a brewery.”

How has a liberal arts education at a technology-focused university set you apart from your peers and colleagues?

I found that being in the COLA gave me a much more open and wide view of the world and business.  My professors taught me to look beyond the narrow focus and see a larger global economy.

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

I think my study abroad was the best experience at RIT.  It gave me an inner strength and belief in myself that has helped me make the move to open a small business.

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

Push yourself every day to go beyond yourself.  Life is only lived by those who take it!

hannah-barry
Hannah Barry
Major: Advertising & Public Relations
Current Job Title: Online Marketing Specialist
Employer: Rochester Museum & Science Center
Industry: Non-profit Marketing
Quote: “Studying liberal arts at RIT allowed me to gain a theoretical grounding and a practical edge. I notice this in particular when managing interns from different programs. They’re often specialized in one area like social media, marketing or graphic design, but don’t have experience putting the pieces together as a whole. In my RIT program, on the other hand, I was designing ads with Adobe Design Software, writing press releases, doing market research, giving business pitches and writing social media posts.”

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

My co-op with the City of Rochester Communications Bureau and the School of Communications’ faculty were two of the things that most prepared me for life after RIT. I think back in particular to one professor who held us to very high standards and gave us timed classwork. It gave me very realistic work expectations and habits to face the time crunch my small department deals with every day.

In my life after RIT, the faculty has continued to be supportive. I’ve kept in contact with some of them via email and social media.

What makes you most proud to be a tiger?

I’m proud to be a tiger because I see how well it prepared me and because it has placed me in a great network of people. I’ve connected with RIT faculty that I didn’t know while at RIT, but I’ve met through work in the museum field. I’ve even had professionals in my field reach out to me after noticing that I was a fellow alum to ask what program I graduated from.

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

I would have given myself Theodore Roosevelt’s quote: “Comparison is the thief of joy.”

After graduation, I quickly realized that graduation isn’t the end of an educational journey, but the beginning of an entirely new one and that I shouldn’t compare myself too harshly with professionals ten years ahead of me in my field. They are models, not benchmarks.

I also came to understand that there’s no single right way to do something. My education equipped me with the tools I needed to invent my own solutions and feel confident in doing so, rather than comparing my work with that of my counterparts in other organizations.

jenna-deutsch
Jenna Deutsch
Major: Advertising & Public Relations
Current Job Title: Program Manager, Field Testing
Employer: Fitbit
Industry: Wearable Technology
Quote: “At RIT, I met tons of people who were different than me—backgrounds, majors, beliefs, etc. From this, I was able to learn how to communicate and work with people from all sorts of backgrounds. This has really helped me professionally, as I interact with everyone from creatives to engineers, all of whom think, communicate, and work differently.”

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

Co-ops and being in a sorority most prepared me for life after RIT. While on my four co-ops, I learned what life was like in advertising and PR agencies; I was able to see what I liked and what I didn’t like, which made job searching a bit easier. Being in a sorority allowed me the opportunity to work closely with people from across campus, as well as plan major events such as fundraisers. For example, planning Mud Tug made me use what I learned in School of Communication classes in order to get donations and press for the event. This is particularly coming in handy as I am fundraising for Back on My Feet so I can run the Boston Marathon in April 2017.

What were you involved in outside of the classroom at RIT?

I spent 4 years as a sister of Zeta Tau Alpha where I was Philanthropy Chair, Greek Wear Chair, House Manager, Treasurer, Vice President of Programming, and President; I planned-- and helped to plan-- numerous Mud Tugs and Make the Rink Pinks, raising over $30,000 for various organizations. I also worked at RIT SportsZone as the Director of Marketing for a year, and RIT Sports Information for four years. My senior year, I spent a few months on the Big Shot Team as they prepared for Big Shot at Cowboys Stadium. I developed a social media strategy for the team as well as helped with PR.

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

Make sure to thank your professors! You never know when you’ll need their help further down the road… if you enjoyed your time with them, let them know! Your professors do care about you and your success.

john-letteney
John Letteney
Major: Criminal Justice
Current Job Title: Chief of Police
Employer: Apex, NC Police Department
Industry: Law Enforcement
Quote: “At RIT, I learned there was so much more to criminal justice than just police work. I really had only one perspective of how I could serve, and that was what I was exposed to in street-level police work. RIT broadened my perspective and allowed me to really explore all the career field had to offer. In the end, I still chose to join local law enforcement, however I did so with a much greater understanding of how police officers fit into the broader criminal justice system.”

How has your RIT experience influenced your life personally or professionally?

I lived about eight hours from campus, and I remember feeling a sincere sense of loneliness during those first few days, but freshman orientation was great and I quickly made very good friends.  A shared experience in a new place binds people together!  On my first day as a freshman, I met a sophomore orientation volunteer and we became friends.  And over the next few years, good friends.  We’ll celebrate our 34th anniversary later this year!  After four sons and five grandkids (so far), I guess that’s a real impact on my personal life!

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

One class I really appreciate is on research and statistics.  Research skills are important, not only being able to conduct the research, but as a police leader, to know when research is valid and reliable or not.  A few years ago there was a study of police traffic stops and conclusions were made that were not based on good research methods.  I was able to understand that and, in my role as a member of the Board of Directors of the state Chiefs of Police Association, commission another study that proved the fallacy of the research and show how better research was needed. That one study turned the tide on very negative and inaccurate research and gave pause to making conclusions based on failed methods.  My classes at RIT were the basis for my knowledge in that subject and had a very real impact on public policy.

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

If there were one piece of advice I would give my then-self, it would be to not set your goals too low.  I remember thinking “If I could retire as a sergeant, that would be great!”  Once I achieved that goal within five years of joining the department, I was left at a loss for what was next.  After some time, I revisited my goals and set a goal at what I thought was too high – be a Chief of Police.  Well, I’m back to “what now?”  I still have goals for my remaining years in this profession and still credit RIT for giving me the experience, skills and abilities to achieve my goals, and then some.

lisa-barber
Lisa Barber
Major: Communications & Media Technologies (MS)
Current Job Title: Freelance Travel Blogger
Employer: Barbers Go Global
Industry: Online Marketing
Quote: “The depth and range of topics covered in the M.S. in Communications and Media Technologies provided the historical building blocks to identify communicate barriers, methods of dissemination and advances in new media which remain relevant across multiple disciplines. This gave me with the ability to sharpen my skills in writing, verbal and visual content creation, all of which I’m using with Barbers Go Global.”

What were you involvement outside the classroom?

As a member of the RIT community, both as a student and employee, my involvement outside of the classroom often varied. My role as a student provided the opportunity to connect with fellow graduate students to build a global network of relationships with my international classmates. Upon completion of my program at the time, I worked in the Office of Diversity & Inclusion which allowed me to serve in various mentoring programs with NTID/RIT students and provided the opportunity to serve as the university’s first coach for the RIT Poetry Slam Team and as a club advisor for Mental Graffiti Poetry Club for non-competing poets.

What makes you most proud to be a Tiger?

I am proud of being a Tiger because of RIT’s commitment to diversity, innovation and the global network of Tigers around the world through the international campuses. The Tiger spirit can be found in virtually every RIT alum, no matter where they’re from!

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

If I could go back to graduation day the advice that I would give myself is to not let the question of What’s next? overshadow my academic achievement.

louis-perez
Louis Perez
Major: Communications & Media Technologies (MS)
Current Job Title: Associate Director, SEO
Employer: 360i
Industry: Search Engine Optimization
Quote: “A liberal arts education has allowed me to pivot my career easily from general advertising to digital marketing. It was broad enough to be applicable to different paths, but specific enough to be valuable in the marketing field that I chose.”

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

I would have to say working so closely with the faculty in my department is what prepared me most for life after RIT. Whether it was memorable teachings from important books (which I actually see on colleagues’ desks today, like ‘Elements of Style’ by Shrunk & White), or valuable research guidance on my thesis, I am grateful for my time at RIT, and learning from such great teachers.

What challenges and successes have you experienced up to this point in your career?

Finishing and presenting my thesis was very rewarding- my advisors were very supportive and interested in my career path as well. I also found success by harnessing my improved research skills to hit the ground running in my career, many of the tasks in SEO are related in some ways to research.

Matt Staub
Major: Communication
Current Job Title: Manager of Technical Support
Employer: Oracle
Industry: Telecommunications
Quote: “The best part about being a Tiger is the fact that just mentioning that I attended RIT, I have near instant credibility with technology sector individuals and companies.”

How has your RIT experience influenced your life personally and professionally?

RIT encouraged me to follow my natural tendency towards technology.  Studying in the School of Communication prepared me for working in Technical Support by teaching me to communicate clearly and concisely while still including enough relevant details for my intended audience.  That is a key ability in professional services or technical support roles.

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

The faculty in the School of Communication were some of the best instructors and people I have met.  Their classes were truly memorable and I look back on them fondly, not only as incredible experiences, but also as a foundation for what I have done in my career.

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

I think the biggest advice I would give myself as a new graduate is not to settle.  The best career advice I could give to anyone, including myself as a graduate is to not focus so much on the first job that comes along with a great salary.  Look for a position and a company that will challenge you every day.  Paying the bills is important, but there is a lot of truth to the axiom that work is not work if you love what you do. 

parris_bryan
Parris Bryan II
Major: Economics
Current Job Title: Certified Personal Banker
Employer: Five Star Bank
Industry: Finance & Banking
Quote: “The diversity represented and valued on campus makes me proud to be a Tiger. The university is made up of people with different genders, races, nationalities, orientations, you name it. RIT really showcases the beauty that everyone has within.”

Tell us about how your RIT experience influenced your life personally and professionally?

My RIT experience influenced my life for the better, most notably through the MOCHA program. This program transformed me as a person, which allowed me to step out of my comfort level and try new things in life.  It also gave me the kind of confidence to approach people like the CEO of the bank I work at and discuss new ideas over lunch.

How has a liberal arts education at a technology-focused university set you apart from your peers and colleagues?

Being at a technology-focused university gave me access to the best resources and allowed me to interact with some of the brightest minds. Having a liberal arts education taught me to be a good communicator and critical thinker. It taught me not to be afraid to think outside of the box.

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

Take more pictures!

tianna_manon
Tianna Mañón
Major: Journalism
Current Job Title: Editor in Chief
Employer: Open Mic Rochester
Industry: Journalism & Media
Quote: “A lot of journalism majors come out of college knowing how to do basic journalism, or possibly some video editing, but I walked out knowing how to code because I went to RIT. That really sets me apart.”

Tell us about how your RIT experience influenced your life personally and professionally?

I’m honestly not sure I’d even have my job without RIT. I loved that we focus on both how to write as a journalist but also adding technology and utilizing new media skills. When I graduated, I felt prepared to maneuver comfortably in newsrooms. I knew I had the skills. Personally, I was able to meet a number of people that really influenced my way of thinking and helped round out my experience.

What makes you most proud to be a tiger?

The other tigers. Our pack is crazy huge and incredibly talented. Some of the alumni I know and have met are some of the most successful people around. But beyond that, and more importantly, they’re compassionate and caring for the next generations.

Yenory Pouncil
Major: Public Policy
Current Job Title: Director of Communications & Membership Relations
Employer: National Association of Workforce Boards
Industry: Non-Profit Workforce Development
Quote: "The liberal arts taught me how to think critically and hone the art of building relationships. These skills have been critical in the roles I've accepted after graduation. Most people think of me as a problem solver. Thanks to my Public Policy, background I can analyze problems and provide multiple feasible solutions quickly."

What experiences most prepared you for life after RIT?

I joined the outstanding Omicron Beta City chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority. I learned to host programs, write proposals, and work with student and faculty leadership organizations.  I also got to know many amazing people, many of whom I still talk to today. In addition, my awesome HEOP advisor Joe "Bones" Williams was a huge influence in my life. I will forever be indebted to him for his advice, for advocating for me and always being in my corner. Joe, if you are reading this, thank you so much for always making time for me, for always keeping the door of your office open, even when I showed up without an appointment.

What makes you most proud to be a Tiger?

RIT's commitment to diversity and inclusion. I love seeing how the university continues to make strides to support faculty members and students of color

If you could go back to graduation day what advice would you give yourself?

Be patient with yourself! You are always where you are supposed to be, even when it is uncomfortable or painful. Sometimes life won't make sense. Don't freak out; things will be ok because you are not alone and everything is temporary.

 

Helen Syme
Major: Criminal Justice
Current Job Title: Assistant Public Defender
Employer: Monroe County Public Defender's Office
Industry: Criminal Defense Law
Quote: "As an attorney, I often have to argue that my interpretation of a law is correct. Even now, I know I can count on my professors at RIT for advice. They have provided me with invaluable assistance such as providing statistics, academic journal articles, and their own individual expertise to help analyze the broader social impact each potential interpretation may have."

How has a liberal arts education at a technology-focused university set you apart from your peers and colleagues?

Whether it’s a class on computer crime or the shot-spotter system, having a liberal arts degree that embraces technology sets you apart from your colleagues by allowing you to ask the right questions.  New technologies and scientific testing are constantly being used in litigation.  The basic understanding of how things work, how they are used, what their strengths and weakness are, and how to tell if they are malfunctioning, is a critical tool for an attorney.

Experts often assist attorneys in the courtroom, particularly when specialized technological or scientific expertise is needed.  However, the testimony from these experts is provided in the form of a question and its answer.  It’s important for the attorney to gain an understanding of the topic their expert will testify to.  Without this background knowledge you won’t know what questions to ask…or, more importantly, what not to ask!

What experience most prepared you for life after RIT?

My field experience at RIT most prepared me for life after RIT.  It bridged the gap between academia and practice allowing me, for the first time, to see the real world application of concepts we learned in the classroom. 

My field experience was diversified for a criminal justice student. I interned with a Superior Court Judge, and spent time learning in both the Monroe County District Attorney’s Office and the Monroe County Public Defender’s Office.  Seeing the principles we learned in class being applied to real cases from both a prosecution and defense perspective prepared me for life after RIT.