Dyson alumni offer advice for new and returning students

By: Katelyn Godoy
Alumni smile holding a #CornellDyson sign

Dyson alumni at Reunion 2019 who left advice for Dyson students

With the fall semester officially underway, it’s easy to get buried in coursework and lose sight of what makes Dyson, and Cornell University, such a special place. No one understands this more than our esteemed alumni who fondly remember their time crossing the Ag Quad and taking classes in Warren Hall.

Now leaders in their fields, a few of Dyson’s 10,000+ alumni offer advice for new and returning students as they start a new academic year.

A man holds his written message as he is photographer
Alumni write messages Dyson to students

#1. Find your passion

Cathy Gaffney ’89
Vice president of Wegmans Food Markets

“Ask yourself, ‘What do I love to do? What will motivate me to get up in the morning? What will drive my ambition?’ Pursue whatever you really truly enjoy. Do not worry about titles or positions or how long you think it should take to get to the next level. Enjoy what you are doing every day and the rest will come!”

Brian Freidman ’95
Chief operating officer for the New York Jets

“Dyson and Cornell prepare you to do anything. Make sure you pick a career that you are passionate about because long hours (which you will have) can be miserable or exhilarating and fun—and you want them to be exhilarating and fun.”

Evan Bashoff ’99
Vice president of marketing at Kramer Consumer Healthcare

“Work hard and never give up when pursuing your dreams! You can never go wrong by following your true interests—treat others well and make a difference along the way!”

Evan holding his written sign
Evan Bashoff ’99, vice president of marketing at Kramer Consumer Healthcare

Anne Paoletti Bayna ’94
Math teacher at Clearview Regional HS District

“Life is more than grades and money. Look for meaning. Develop your talents. Fulfill your purpose.”

Anne Bayna holding her written message
Anne Paoletti Bayna ’94, math teacher at Clearview Regional HS District

#2. Get involved

Aaron Sumida ’89
Vice president of Aldi Inc

“My advice would be to take full advantage of the Cornell experience. The tuition does not go up or down with the amount of involvement a student has. Extract the most value out of the time you have at Cornell by experiencing and involving yourself in as much as you can.”

Rachel Saputo, MPS ’16, MS ’17
Manager of strategic initiatives at DoorDash

“Take advantage of as many opportunities as you can while at Cornell. There are countless resources and if you have an interest in a particular topic or field, Cornell faculty and alums are extremely generous and helpful in making connections in order for you to pursue those interests outside of the classroom.”

Carrie Skolnick Rothfeld ’94
Design manager at Gensler

“My Cornell experience has helped me in ways I never could have predicted. Take advantage of all that is here and it will pay you back exponentially!”

#3. Build your network

Patti Mandel ’83, MBA ’85
Visiting lecturer in brand management at Dyson
Assistant professor of marketing at Ramapo College of New Jersey

“This is a time to expand your horizons. Focus on the big picture. Spend time networking and getting to know Cornell alumni.”

David Cynn ’91
Partner at Killearn Capital

“Constantly develop your network both laterally and upwards. Constantly look for mentors and ask questions—and start now by having multiple, lasting relationships with our great professors!”

Jeremy Zifchock ’98
Assistant dean of operations at the United States Military Academy at West Point

“The mentors and colleagues you gain now will likely benefit you in the decades to come, and at times, will be the difference between success and failure.”

Anthony Sneag ’99
Director of fundamental equity at MacKay Shields

“Get to know as many of your classmates as possible since they will be future business leaders. Take risks, learn as much as possible, and follow your dreams. Good luck at Cornell and in your future career!”

Anthony holds his written message
Anthony Sneag ’99, director of fundamental equity at MacKay Shields

#4. Accounting matters

Mark L. Wilson ’79, MBA ’80
CPA and investor

“Learn accounting, statistics, and finance. Study abroad and enjoy the beauty of central New York.”

Steven Gargano ’98
Managing director and head of financial information & risk analysis at 1199 National Benefit Fund

“What you learn in accounting classes you will apply to every aspect of business.”

#5. Believe in yourself

Annie Ross ’09
Workers’ compensation specialist at the New York City Law Department

“Be your best self.”

Jo Ann Boyko ’84
Co-founder and managing partner at Insightful Analytics, LLC

“Believe in yourself, solicit feedback, and follow your passion. You can achieve your goals!”

David Schatz ’14
Terminal UX infrastructure strategist, Bloomberg LP

“You got this! Grades aren’t life!”

Albert Joerger ’89, MLA ’92 (CALS), PhD ’97 (CALS)
Land conservation and sustainable development consultant and president of The Joerger Group

“Be brave. You cannot do it if you don’t think it.”

Albert holding the sign he wrote
Albert Joerger ’89, MLA ’92 (CALS), PhD ’97 (CALS)

#6. Everything will be OK

Spencer Brownell ’92
Vice president of business development at Change Healthcare

“Enjoy the experience.”

Sam Offei ’14
Product manager of emerging receivables at Citi

“Calm down and enjoy your time on campus. It’s all going to be alright!”

Sam holding his written sign
Sam Offei ’14, product manager of emerging receivables at Citi

Amy (Breitberg) Arshen ’04
Senior vice president at Citi

“Enjoy every moment! There’s so much to learn and experience. Remember to have fun, too!”

Amy holding her written sign
Amy (Breitberg) Arshen ’04, senior vice president at Citi