Fortune Footwear CEO Paul Auersperg. CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson. NFL Senior Director of Event Operations Eric Finkelstein. JP Morgan Chase Vice President Linda Tan. Nike Stores Director Bill Schaming.

They all got their start at The College at Brockport.

From October 25–27, 32 Brockport students journeyed through New York City to get to know them and more than 60 other alumni based there. Site visits included insider access to CNN, NFL Headquarters, and Nike Soho.

Now in its fourth year, the annual student-alumni excursion in New York City is hosted by the Office of Alumni Engagement and the Office of the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Director of Alumni Engagement Kerry Gotham and Associate Professor of Biology Laurie Cook serve as advisers on the trip.

"Our goal is to create a complete experiential learning immersion for the students. We want them to experience firsthand the power of the Brockport network and learn from those who came before them that the sky is the limit. And, we have a ton of fun with it," said Gotham.

The students discover what's possible with hard work, dedication, passion — and some networking.

Former and current Brockport Student Government presidents, Joey Jackson '88 and Josh Mathews '19, connect at CNN.


Wolfgang’s Steakhouse

Networking dinner with seven alumni, hosted by CEO of Fortune Footwear Paul Auersperg '86

Auersperg's top 3 tips to students:

1. "Always be prepared. Don't wing it."

2. "Work hard, and learn from your mistakes. Identify the cause of your mistake, reflect on it, and you won't make that mistake again. You'll just make new mistakes. Repeat the process."

3. "Mix it up. Mature socially by meeting people who are different from you and look different from you. Then, build relationships with them. That's the real world."

Katelynn Demskie '20, Political Science

Brockport Student Government Vice President

"I really enjoyed talking with Marisa Ballaro ’07, owner of Ballaro Dance, at the dinner. She gave good advice about finding your passion, taking risks to work toward your passion, and making sacrifices to pursue your passion. I'm inspired to keep working hard, because although there will be bumps in the road, it will eventually lead to something really great."


National Football League Headquarters

Behind-the-scenes talk and tour, hosted by Senior Director of Event Operations Eric Finkelstein '98 and AV Telecommunications Specialist Scott Wagner '05

"I was amazed at how far people from Brockport have made it in this world. I’m a sport management major and hope to end up in the sports industry like Eric and Scott. I learned to take advantage of every opportunity and work hard wherever I go." — Justin Maybach '19



Behind-the-scenes talk and tour, hosted by CNN Legal Analyst Joey Jackson '88

Amanda Leavell '19, Meteorology, Forensics

"As for inspiration, CNN was all I needed. We were able to step in front of the cameras they used to see what it was like. As cliché as it sounds, I felt at home. Maybe not necessarily at CNN, but in front of a camera with a smiling face to report the next breaking weather story. When I put my mind to something, there is no stopping me."
Students listen to Jackson's colleague, a CNN producer, describe what goes into preparing for a live broadcast in the news room.


Nike Soho

Behind-the-scenes talk and tour, hosted by Nike District Stores Director Bill Schaming '91

Savannah Allen '19, History, Childhood Inclusive Education

"At Nike, we observed firsthand the thought and inspiration that goes into every design and advertisement. We saw the enthusiasm the employees have for their careers. They are not jobs, they are passions. You never know where life will take you, and you have to be open to all opportunities. If you work hard, the right career will come to you."

Halima Said '20, English

"I never imagined myself even entering one of these buildings, but as soon as I did, I could imagine myself working there one day. This was my second time in the city, but the first time I really got to explore it. As hectic and loud as it was, there is a kind of beauty in that. I feel like if I have any shot at making my dreams come true, it's in the middle of that chaos, and that was inspiring."

In addition to site visits, students sat in on an alumni panel at the SUNY Global Center and participated in a networking reception at John Sullivan's Bar and Grill in the heart of Midtown, which provided chances to ask questions and build one-on-one connections.

Students took home words of wisdom, lasting connections... and plenty of alums' business cards.

Calvin Butler '20, Business Administration

"Experiences like these not only teach us how to take advantage of opportunities, they teach us how to create our own."

Two days of networking in the Big Apple can be a little tiring...

But completely worth it.

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