Our Alumni

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Current position: Training manager at Planned Parenthood of Northeast, Mid-Penn and Bucks County

How did the program help you?
"The program helped me look at adult education as a two-way street. It is not mine to give. It is ours to give and receive as teachers and students through the exchange ideas and concepts."

What was your experience with the faculty?  
"The faculty was extremely approachable and helpful. I never felt as far as I was in distance from the faculty."

What was your experience with other students in your online learning community?
"Although I'm more of a face-to-face person, online interaction was more focused and goal-driven."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Marilyn A. Ballard, Class of '11

Current position: Education Supervisor at Child Care Resource Network

How did the program help you?
"This experience has helped me on many levels. During the process, it gave me an opportunity to reflect on how I was currently creating my instructional material; improved my time management skills while completing assignments; deepened my ability to critically think about issues; and assisted me immensely to supervise individuals and coach executives of businesses."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Denise Burbey, Class of '02

Current position: Executive Director of Technology at Jamestown Community College

How did the  program help you?
"I began the adult education program to fulfill a personal goal. I did not imagine I would see an immediate return on that investment, but I did. Within three months of graduation I had the opportunity to become our college’s first director of distance learning. Not only the content of the adult education program but also the way in which it was delivered contributed to preparing me for that role. Now as executive director of technology for the college, I use what I learned and the contacts that I have made through the program on a regular basis. This degree program was the best investment I ever made."

What was your experience with the faculty?  
"I can’t say enough about the online faculty in the program. They were some of the best instructors in my educational career. They were knowledgeable and well respected in the field. They presented new ideas, challenged old paradigms, and made learning fun. They made our courses true learning communities, and I looked forward to all my classes."

What was your experience with other students in your online learning community?
"I got to know my classmates better in my online courses than I have in any traditional classes I attended and they were outstanding. In fact, I recommended one of my classmates for a position at my college. He was hired and within two years promoted to a director’s position."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Hugh Burnam, Class of '11

Current position: Grant writer, GED instructor, workforce coordinator, and cultural competency facilitator for Indigenous peoples

How did the Adult Education program help you?
"The adult education program was the solid foundation that I needed to use as a springboard, to see what I could do to help. It also opened up my mind to the idea of indigenous knowledge and why it is so important in today’s society. I am currently pursuing my Ph.D in higher education administration from Syracuse University where I plan to spread such crucial indigenous knowledge to the higher education field, for all to benefit."

 
Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Mary Ellen K. Clasgens, Class of '13

Current position: English teacher at Monroe Community College

How did the adult education program help you?
"This program was truly a gift and a blessing. I now possess the tools and strategies needed to be the best possible teacher, adviser, cheerleader, and friend to my adult learners. I have an inner peace and joy in knowing that I am in the right field, working every day to help my students achieve every success possible."

Is there anything that inspired you when you were in the program?
"I was truly inspired by my classmates who had to overcome incredible challenges and inexplicable pain to find professional and personal success. There were many discussions that resulted in feelings of great empathy coupled with sadness. It reminded me of the importance of being there for one another and to carry our friends, loved ones, and students through the tough times."

What was your experience with the faculty?
"The faculty are truly gifted, exceptional educators who give 100 percent to the program and to their students. It was an honor and a privilege to learn from the best of the best. From day one, the professors reached out to me and allowed for me to feel as if I was part of something incredibly special, an online family of learners working and growing together."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Lisa Powell Fortna, Class of '11

Current position: Principal Consultant at kiosks Consulting and Corporate Trainer/Adjunct Faculty at Jamestown Community College

How did the Adult Education program help you?
"As a human resource professional with more than 15 years of experience, I had been exposed to that field of training and development and had led numerous training and facilitation activities. However, I did not have a foundational understanding of adult education philosophy and principles. The adult education program provided me the opportunity to explore these areas in a structured and meaningful way allowing me to enhance my practical knowledge and application. In my role as corporate trainer, this foundation has been invaluable in enriching my course design, as well as expanding my ability to facilitate learning outcomes for diverse populations."

Is there anything that inspired you when you were in the program?
"The faculty of the adult education program was critical in my experience and supported my individual learning needs and professional objectives in every course. They reinforced my existing knowledge base while inspiring me to think differently about adult education and adult learning through a broad curriculum and relevant assignments."

What was your experience with the faculty online?  
"Program faculty actively participated and responded to the needs of participants through online dialogued and development of course exercises and assignments."

What was your experience with other students in your online learning community?
"In some ways, I felt I gained more insight in online courses than in a classroom setting. Expectations were set that required all learners to participate in discussions and online activities, so instead of hearing from a few vocal participants in a live setting, there were more opinions and experiences shared in the online community, deepening the overall course experience."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Katherine M. Marzec, Class of '08

Current position: Self-employed as an independent staff development consultant

How did the adult education program help you?
"The adult education program encourages personal and professional development in all of the courses offered. In order to be an effective adult educator, you have to have credibility and be focused on others. The work you do while in the program does that while providing the mechanics of building adult learning programs."

What was your experience with the faculty?  
"The faculty was encouraging, challenged students, always available and approachable."

What was your experience with other students in your online learning community?
"When students signed on for the first time, they were hesitant but quickly came to enjoy the camaraderie and team work atmosphere the instructors worked to make happen. Everyone was collaborative, supportive, and encouraging. It never ceased to amaze me how people juggled so much in their lives to take these courses and get their degrees."

 
Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

David M. Merlo, Class of '06

Current position: Professor within the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program at Erie Community College

How did the adult education program help you?
"The adult education program provided me with a theoretical and philosophical base which has bolstered my confidence and boldness as an educator. I began my college teaching career with no formal academic background in teaching to support my vague notions of what it means to be an educator. I gained techniques and strategies over the years, but had no real foundational understanding to guide me in taking my teaching to a higher level. It was the theoretical and philosophical understandings that I gained through the adult education program that compelled me to venture in new directions and to build upon my technical knowledge of instruction."

Is there anything that inspired you when you were in the program?
"J. John Loughran wrote 'The heart and soul of teaching begins with relationships. Teaching is a relationship. Without building relationships the purpose of teaching is diminished.' This quote characterizes the pedagogy of Dr. Susan Birden. Through her modeling, Dr. Birden taught me the power of developing relationships with learners—relationships built on trust, respect, listening, and expectancy. Her course on historical, social, and philosophical foundations of adult education (ADE 605) and my ensuing relationship with Dr. Birden helped to transform my own academic career and served as a catalyst toward significant development in my approaches to teaching."

What was your experience with other students in your online learning community?
"I appreciated the opportunity to engage in sharing ideas with other students through online discussion forums. With the need to write responses, I had a greater opportunity to really think about my opinions before expressing them (as in a face-to-face dialogue)."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Christian Soto, Class of '12

Current position: Community Supervision Officer at Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency for the District of Columbia

How did the Adult Education program help you?
"The work of a Community Supervision Officer requires the monitoring of criminal offender’s in the field and keeping detailed records of their activities as well as working towards changing the behavior of the offender from anti-social activities to pro-social activities and goals. The lessons learned by studying the history and application of adult education now allow me to excel as a law enforcement officer with the federal government."

Is there anything that inspired you when you were in the program?
"The faculty members I interacted with during the program were equally influential in my degree program. Dr. Birden’s emphasis on social history, thinking problems through in groups, and focusing on the details of central cultural/ethnic themes has prepared me to work as an integral member of a nine officer team that must communicate information and cooperate on a common goal that deals with changing cultural attitudes daily. Dr. Campbell’s courses focused on the application of cognitive and psychological concepts in integrative models as a method of teaching. The knowledge I learned in these courses has helped in the one-on-one interaction I have with an offender during a visit. Dr. Hura and Dr. Gold presented courses in instructional design, employee training and leadership. These courses have been the most useful in operating within the bureaucracy of the federal government, and interacting with superiors as well as colleagues."

Maryanell Agosto, Class of '11

Bernadette Walsh, Class of '11

Current position: Corporate Training and Development Manager at National Air Cargo Group Inc.

How did the Adult Education program help you?
"The adult education program taught me the fundamentals and theories I have used to expand my career. When I first started the program, I was new to the corporate training world and had no practical knowledge of how those programs should be created. The curriculum offered by Buffalo State's master's program taught me the ADDIE model, instructional design, and learning theories. This knowledge gave me the building blocks to critically evaluate how to work with subject matter experts and design materials for my global audience. Within the first year of graduation I was tasked with developing an ethics program for over 500 employees across the world. The training I produced gained accolades from our senior management team and our Department of Defense partners. Without my degree, I never would have gotten the opportunity to shine."

What about the program inspired you?
"The professors inspired me. Their wealth of knowledge and their passion for educational excellence encouraged me to challenge myself."

What was your experience with the faculty?
"The faculty interacted on a consistent basis with the students in Angel. Working virtually made it easier to gain access to personalized feedback from my professors. If I was working late into the night I knew that I could submit a question and have the answer back the next day."

What was your experience with other students in your online learning community?
"The students in my online learning communities contributed greatly to my learning experience. Learning from other students' real-life experiences helped give another dimension to the course work. In addition, being able to collaborate and communicate freely made discussions more robust."

Adult Education

Buffalo State •  1300 Elmwood Avenue  •  Bacon Hall 122
Buffalo, NY 14222  •  Phone: (716) 878-4303 •  Fax: (716) 878-5833

adulteducation@buffalostate.edu